Stroke Camp – La Jolla

I had the pleasure of attending Stroke Camp last week in La Jolla California.

@http://www.strokecamp.org/

I went as a volunteer and also to promote my new book, “Highs, Lows, and Plateaus: a path to recovery from stroke.”

@http://www.amazon.com/Highs-Lows-Plateaus-Recovery-Stroke/dp/1491862319

I can honestly say that I gained so much more than I gave!  It was a weekend of laughter and camaraderie ~ a weekend of sharing and supporting ~ a weekend of gaining strength from each other.  I met some amazing people and have so much respect for the stroke survivors and their loved ones who live each day with the struggles of stroke, and yet they turn those struggles into moments of inspiration and strength.

As anyone there can attest, I cry very easily.  Sometimes I tell people that I have “dry eye” and that the lubricating tears are just a side effect of the disorder.  Not true.  I just cry easily.  My daughter says it is because my heart sometimes brims over as tears.  At stroke camp, I did not cry tears of sadness.  Instead they were tears of release, of celebration for the strength of the human spirit.

Every day we hear about the pain and suffering and cruelty of our world.  What I experienced was only love and respect. That is what we need to be shouting from the mountain tops.  Not our differences, but our similarities ~ as people. From that we gain strength. Cheers to the Entire Team from “Stroke Camp”.  You are everyday heroes !

Progress in 2014

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!

Focus should be on “partially complete” versus “incomplete”

Rehab gyms across the country, such as SciFit and ProjectWalk are changing the scope of recovery following spinal cord injury and stroke. Rather than focusing on the deficits and problems left by the injury, their focus is on the potential for neuroplasticity and learning within the human central nervous system. Movement recovery depends on a demand for use. Rehab professionals should embrace a change from speaking of the negative “incomplete” and focusing on the positive “partially complete”. This is the only way we can change the dialogue around recovery.

I would love to hear from survivors who have continued to improve and reach their goals despite a negative prediction set by many health care providers.

Humanity

This morning, my daughter asked me why animals begin walking shortly after they are born but it takes years for a baby to walk? The answer is not as simple as four versus two legs. If it were, then babies would begin crawling shortly after birth! Is it about size? That cannot be right since baby elephants, giraffes, and horses are far larger. Is it about survival? Perhaps. Is it about the complexity of the human nervous system? Most likely. The desire to walk it tantamount in recovery from injury! It is the driving force for much of physical rehabilitation. This complexity of the human nervous system also gives rise to the potential for neuroplasticity.

What are your thoughts on this topic? Would love to hear from you?

Options for ankle bracing

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.

Getting the fingers working again!

So, I have decided that getting the fingers to work again after a stroke is one of the greatest challenges.  I would love to hear from people about what worked for you.   Fine control and dexterity are so uniquely human!  I have recently been studying the literature about how babies and young infants gain control of their finger function. Truly amazing how the brain and body interface goes from shoving a fisted hand into the mouth, to tying shoes, playing the piano, typing, and having unlimited motion and control at our fingertips.  Tell me your story so that we can then share it with other stroke survivors!