2014 was a good year… now cheers to 2015!
I wanted to highlight a few successes that some of my clients had in 2014:
K. received a new dynamic ankle brace and is now walking more than ever. He reports that he can feel the muscles in his weak leg getting stronger, and he can walk over uneven ground, up /down stairs easily and finally can say that he enjoys walking again.
C. is using her fingers again! Not quite two years post stroke and she is able to use her hand to help her with all kinds of daily activities. She has returned to work full-time and has also gotten back in the routine of being “mom” in her family now. It was hard having her daughter and husband take care of the baby, but she is back. This year, is dedicated to fine motor control in those fingers!
E. became independent in transferring into the shower, is driving his own van, and is learning to walk again. Not bad for someone who is not even three years post injury to his cervical spinal cord. No need for an electric chair because he can push himself in his new lightweight chair and feels he is getting stronger (below the level of lesion) every day.
S. returned to work full time, is using her right hand for typing and is talking up a storm! She and her family have fought hard. Still a ways to go until this young woman feels satisfied with her recovery, but I have no doubt she will get there.
M. barely survived his stroke, but he is getting better every day. He can stand independently, transfer for showers and walk short distances. Mostly delayed now by distorted vision that makes it hard to move, but he is having a surgical procedure this week that hopes to improve his vision.
Just a few successes. Would love to hear from others about the Highs, Lows, and Plateaus of recovery.
Cheers to 2015!
Why is the ankle so difficult to recover function after a stroke? There are a lot of reasons that circle around the neurological control of the ankle, the complexity of the ankle joint, and problems with sensory awareness after stroke. If you think about it, it is pretty cool that a foot and skinny little ankle can support our entire body all day long!
So, I really do not like the plastic molded ankle joints that so many people are sent home with! They make NO sense to me. They are rigid, have no energy storage, block sensory signals from the foot, block the natural motion of the foot bones and they are just plain ugly. I think it is time we all start demanding that stroke survivors be fit with dynamic, energy storing ankle braces.
There are a lot available, but here are the four I have worked with just this week and have been very pleased with how well they work in not only providing support to the ankle, but providing for a dynamic, energy-storing system that actually helps one learn to walk again.
Please note that this information is provided for educational purposes and does NOT provide endorsement of any particular device.
The rigid AFO serves a purpose early in rehabilitation following stroke. It provides stability to the weak leg, allowing people to safely stand and transfer. This rigid AFO, however, is NOT the ankle brace that should be used when one is learning how to walk again. It is time to start demanding that ankle orthosis be made so that a hinged ankle and some form of dorsiflexion assistance can be added once the survivor is ready to learn to walk. Using a rigid ankle brace almost demands that the person learn to walk with a stiff leg, that is thrown forward with hip hike and circumduction. One cannot bend the knee for walking if the ankle is fixed! Simple biomechanics. So, how do we change the way Therapists, Physicians, and Orthotists approach the ankle??