23 Jun

Last Thursday I visited a new spinal cord rehab center that is now opening here in Calgary. The name is “synaptic”, and they are using the theories and methods of project walk in California. I went in for an assessment, and it wasn’t something boring involving questionnaire;   rather, it was a lot of hard physical exercise.

The 1st thing they did was get me out of the chair and lay me on a plinth, and roll over. I couldn’t move very far, but they could see which muscles I was able to engage. Surprisingly, I lifted my right leg slightly, which I am actually unable to do except during a spasm, which brings up another aspect of their theory: I can learn how to how to use spasms to help accomplish functional tasks to some extent.

The next thing they did was roll me on my stomach. I have not been in this position since my accident, when I was lying facedown on a rocky mountainside. I was relieved to find that I could tolerate this position. Again, they asked me to try to roll over and this time I used each arm to try to make little more progress.

On to harder tasks! I was helped to move into a kneeling position, visit large box in front of me to rest my arms on and help support me. It was a challenge to try to engage some core muscles and hold my chest up to try to maintain this position. Fortunately, there are mirrors on all the walls so you can see your form. After a few successful poses, they unveiled a surprise.

 moving me to the edge of the plinth, they put my feet on the floor and helped me stand up! It would be an understatement to say that this was an emotional moment–more than 6 months have passed since I last stood on my own feet. Sure, it took 4 people to help hold me in this position, but it was a real treat and an occasion to celebrate.

At the end of the assessment I was rather warm and quite tired out, which brings me to another point. Disabled people have many hurdles, and one of them is finding ways to participate in cardiovascular exercise.

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