Project Walk

Good to be back on the beach

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A great week again at Project Walk particularly with my brother and dad here to help and encourage. I have been able to add a lot of other therapy and movement at home, and when we are out and about with two strong sets of hands around. The highlights for the week have nothing to do with project walk but outings we’ve made. On Saturday we went and watched the redbull air race which happened to be on in San Diego, where Pete and Dad helped me to walk onto the beach. And even though I couldn’t feel the sand with my feet, it was invigorating.

The other highlight was this morning when again with their help I had a shower without involving commode and stood up for a shower.It felt pretty good after having sat down for a shower for the last 10 months. There is a rail out the front of our condo, that overlooks the Pacific Ocean, here is a picture of me standing up holding the rail (sort of) and looking back towards Oz.

At project walk we started to get more focussed on what is weak, with plenty of work on my shoulders and arms, and also on my right hip flexor.If my body is feeling good, you can definitely feel and see the improvement in the way my body parts are working together. It has been very frustrating at times as I cannot imagine why my body won’t work the way I want it. It is a game of patience however, and it is not going to happen overnight or without a lot of effort. I am putting up with enormous amounts of pain as my bodies nervous system reconnects itself, and I literally have to convince that it wants to. My time off from project walk over here for the past two weeks has had to involve resting to make sure that I am ready for the next session. I have one week to go, and I am determined to get to the end of my time without missing an hour.

I am interested to what we will work on this week with it being the last week before we do train-the-trainer. I am very tired, and physically sore from the work done so far and hope that we can continue to work on the bits that are weak and come home with them as strong as they can be.

I have included a clip on YouTube of me walking with sticks, with hand grips and a trainer assisting me to make up for my weak shoulders, hands and wrists.

[youtube]MT3C_iIYebU[/youtube]

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Welcome left glute, where are you right hip flexor?

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I have just finished week 4 at Project Walk and I’ve been really happy with my progress. I have been working really hard at getting the bits that are working well to work better and the bits that are working badly to work at all! My walking has been going really well still with plenty of assistance and finally my left glute muscle is doing its job and supporting my body weight when I try and take a step with my left leg planted and stepping with my right. The next problem is getting the right leg to come through as it is supposed to! This is where I am sending out a telegraph for my right flexor to join the party! This muscle group is needed to lift the leg and pull it through so you can place at ready to take a step with the other leg. Monica and I have placed some more video on youtube with me taking some assisted steps. One of the videos will show you exactly what I mean. One of the physical trainers at Project Walk is assisting my right leg to come through straight and telling the hip flexor to do its job. If you do a search in youtube for “MichaelForbes.org project walk” you get a list of videos that we have taken and posted to this point.

Guided Steps
[youtube]0BzIeDT66t4[/youtube]

Climbing Machine
[youtube]5i2eqKL5o-U[/youtube]

I would like to thank the people that have contributed to the extra sessions that I have been able to take, by Friday afternoons I am completely exhausted. After the session on Friday, I came home and slept for three hours, got up at and ate dinner, went back to bed and slept for 10 hours!

I have two weeks of therapy to go and one more week working with Moni and Patrick where they will be being trained in how to help me when I return home. In that two weeks I have high hopes of what I’ll be able to achieve before I return home. There could even be something as exciting as being able to walk independently with a set of sticks! The only problem will be how do I hold the sticks with wrists and hands that don’t work? Maybe we will come up with a solution and maybe not.

Tomorrow my brother and father arrive to give me some assistance for the next 10 days. I am really looking forward to their arrival, but I think Moni is looking forward to it more. It has been really hard work for Moni as little Ash has needed entertaining every day. So guess what Pete, you have a job when you arrive! We are also hoping to get some more video up on youtube with some extra hands around. Following Dad and Pete will be Moni’s mum and Patrick to get us through the final stint. So the next three weeks should be good fun and a lot of hard work with some extra company around.

Hope you are all well and enjoying the posts as much as I am enjoying making improvements each day. Keep well everyone and see you all soon.

Mike.

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First Situps

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Firstly I want to apologise for not posting before now but it has taken some time to get setup with an internet connection on my computer with the specialist software to enable voice recognition. We are still not quite there as Moni is actually typing for me. We have it all working but it always takes time to setup my working station and I wanted to get a post out so here goes …….

We are now 2 weeks in to Project Walk and the progress is steady. This is exactly what you would expect in an exercise-based program. It is very rewarding to put in the effort and see improvements each day. I have been very impressed with how methodical the approach of the physical trainers is to help me improve. The exercises are aimed at improving what is weak and re-enforcing what works. My left leg for instance is weaker than my right so we have spent a lot of time improving its strength and also in my confidence to rely on the left leg. By the end of the second week I am now able to support my weight thru the left side and take a step with my right . This is all still supported of course as my balance is terrible! This is to be expected as I cannot feel my legs and have no idea where they are … and they certainly don’t react quickly enough if I am about to fall!

We have just started the third week and if we are looking for milestones I managed to do 22 situps today with the physical trainer only holding my legs down. I can remember early on when my abs first started working and I was told that I might get 20% of my abdominal strength back my reply was “I should be able to do 50 situps then”. My reason for this was simple, before the accident I could 250. Only 28 to go!!

In each 3 hour session i usually do about an hour of stretching and mobility and simple strength work or both the legs and arms. This hour is very structured and directed at improving the areas that need it and releasing spasm in areas that i need to help me. It really is about the trainers helping me to do exercise that you would otherwise do on your own …… with one of the key things for me being that they don’t ignore things that ‘don’t work’. The middle hour really is about smashing my legs – we do a lot of assisted walking, squats and work on my balance. I am very proud of a session I did last week where I was balancing on a half-ball and transferring weight from side to side. I was of course strapped by my hands on to a bar so I didn’t fall!! The final hour of each session is generally devoted to my shoulders and arms. They are very troublesome and I know that unless I pay them some attention I will have nothing to support me when I go to fall over!

Aside from Project Walk, whereI ensure i approach each session with energy, we have managed to fit in plenty of family time. This has been wonderful particularly for me as I have missed my girls over the last 9 months. So far we have been to legoland, San Diego Zoo and Sea World. Sea World for me has been the highlight and i think little Ashley would agree. She absolutely loved the killer whale show and I don’t blame her as I also thought it was terrific. I have also been to the beach on a special beach wheelchair that the lifeguard station had available. It was somewhat depressing to be on the beach but not on the sand or in the water but you cannot escape the tranquility that a beach has to offer and it was lovely to be amongst it, particularly as Ashley was playing in the sand right next to me.

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