Let’s do the math: In the stroke community, one topic is about how many repetitions are required to result in rewiring our brain to communicate with a distant muscle no longer connected to its original boss in our brain. We exercise aerobically to optimize neurogenesis, and we try repeatedly to perform the feat we want to accomplish. How many times do we have to repeat it? Two weeks ago, I had the thrilling success of using my left biceps femoris, semitendinosus, and semimembranosus muscles (a.k.a. hamstring) for the first time post-stroke. Out of curiosity, I decided to answer the “how many repetitions does it take?” question: In addition to all the muscle-specific exercises demanded of me by my therapists over the years and many uses of the hamstring Nautilus equipment at the Y, along with attempting to raise my knee (and use my hamstring) every step up on stairs, plus electrical stimulation, and taking nearly-daily walks – all performed over a span of the 3.5 years since having a stroke – I have also WALKED. By that I mean daily incidental walking (incidental to life, with at least a short walk). When I got my new Bioness, I turned in my “trial” unit and it turned out to have saved all my daily walking data, which ranged from a low of 2,500 to a high of 5,000 or 6,000; that’s at the very least an average of 2,000. Although a person with a proper gait is advised to walk at least 10,000 steps/day, I don’t think 2,000 for me is shoddy. I have done that every day for 3.5 years. 365 x 3.5 x 2,000 = 2,555,000. That is two-and-a-half MILLION attempts to use my hamstring. A daunting number, but it works out to about 170 attempts per hour for a 12-hour day ( 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.) or 3 times/minute during everyday life, which doesn’t seem too hard to do. Got to focus on these fingers.
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