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Thread: New caregiver to be, need exercises to do to strength myself

  1. #1
    Senior Member zillazangel's Avatar
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    New caregiver to be, need exercises to do to strength myself

    Hello, this is my first post here, and I am glad to have found a caregiver forum. I am an able bodied 35 year old woman who has fallen wildly and madly in love 5 months ago with a C4/5 quadriplegic man. We plan to get married in the near future, but we first have to get through some logistics, like finding suitable housing for us (his currently accessible home is too small for the three of us - me and my son and him).

    I have learned some of his care so far, hygiene and so far, but in anticipation of doing physical transfers, I would like to start doing some strengthing exercises for my back, legs, etc to reduce the chances of injuring myself when I lift and transfer him in and out of his chair into bed and his shower chair.

    He weighs about 160 pounds and cannot move at all beyond shrugging his shoulders, so I/a caregiver has to move his body completely.

    Any suggestions on a workout routine that would help me strengthen the right muscles?

    Thanks!

    Zillazangel

  2. #2
    Wow, Zilla - Welcome, and how wonderful it is to hear your motivation!

    I would first of all suggest that you also get some training in doing a proper transfer, to reduce the strain on your back. Perhaps physical therapists could help out with that? It's really all about positioning your body and using your hips more than your back muscles.

    In general, tho, I'd suggest some exercises to strengthen your quad muscles in your legs, abs and lower back. Arm work doesn't hurt, either, for doing bed turns!

    Glad you found us, keep us posted, and feel free to ask any questions and join in our 'on line journal'!

    _____________
    If we have no peace, it is because we have forgotten that we belong to each other. - Mother Teresa

  3. #3
    Moderator Obieone's Avatar
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    Welcome Zilla!
    As Marm has said glad you found us! You will find a wealth of info at this site perhaps your Significant Other will visit too. I haven't been able to motiviate my husband Bill to come here yet but it has been a godsend to me!!

    In response to your question you might also want to investigate "mechanical" means of transfering as well ... you will need to think long term if you're in this for the long haul !! My husband is T5 so I have very little experience or knowledge to share. I know others do and I'm sure you will hear from them !!

    Obieone

  4. #4
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    Hi Zillazangel!

    It would also help you a great deal to stretch every day. Repetative caregiving tasks can really make your muscles tighten up. A good book to help with this is Stretching written by Bob Anderson. It's a very user friendly book.

    All my best to you, your son and your future husband!

    by the way, do you get your user name from the band Zilla? Thought maybe you are a fan.

    Take care and welcome to CareCure!

    Carol

  5. #5
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    My husband is C3-C6. You are very smart to start protecting yourself. Keep your knees flexed, and stretch your back. My back is shot but I do use a dyna ball to stretch and I wear a binder to do heavy work. I hated the idea at first but it really does help. I am a bit older than you, 57 and had a bad back to start with. I love my guy too. Good luck to you.

  6. #6
    Senior Member zillazangel's Avatar
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    Thanks everyone so far for the welcome and info. First, my username comes from my s.o.'s username and his pet name for me. He calls me "angel" (awwwwhhh) and he goes by variations of "zilla" at other sites, so zillazangel was born.

    About learning to transfer, we talked about finding a PT to teach me transfer skills properly, especially since his current caregivers all do it differently (and mostly improperly!!). How do I/we go about finding a PT to teach me? He's been in his chair for 15 years, so he doesn't have a rehab facility or anything that he goes to. I assume I'd have to pay them to teach me, but I don't know where even to start. He has a physiatrist, but he's not overly fond of this guy and he sees him only 1x a year max anyway. So, suggestions on how to find someone to teach me these skills?

    And on mechanical lifts, we are going to do that. Part of modifying my home is going to include strengthing the bedroom celing to use a sling type thing (that he owns now but doesn't use at the moment, his current caregivers prefer manual transfers). But of course, I'll still need to do plenty of manual transfers here and there.

    Thanks everyone, I really look forward to being here. And I'll point my "Zilla" guy here too. He's very friendly.

  7. #7
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    Hi! I use a quad pivot and a slide board. I get my hubby dressed, pull him to the edge of the bed then have the chair in place, put the slide board hopefully most of the way under his behind but far enough out to cover the gap between the bed and the chair. I then pull his legs forward and up locking his knees between mine. I squeeze his legs with my knees to hold them steady, grab his arm (he helps) pull him to a sitting position, lean him over my shoulder and grabbing his belt loops do a slight backward motion using my butt as ballast and a gentle twist to the chair and if all is in place, he slides right in, gig line in place. Sounds hopelessly complicated but takes about 2 minutes tops (lots of practice) and I have never dropped him. I am 5'2 ¾", 140 (if I want to be honest!) he is 6', 180lbs. I use my legs and weight to help me but it is kinda like learning to lift weights, you find the muscles you need and isolate and use those. I was amazed at the strength I built up just from getting him up. I have only gotten him up a few times since my spinal fusion and I am amazed at how much weaker I am. BTW, the fusion was due to spondylolythesis (sp) not from getting him up all the time. Good Luck~~you'll have gobs of interesting adventures along the way!

    "We only become what we are by the radical and deep-seated refusal of that which others have made of us."~~Sartre

  8. #8
    Welcome!



    It would be good to find a local rehab facility.... and if they are willing you could volunteer for a few days or hours a week... this may give you more insight to the best ways to transfer. Each person does it a little different and you will have to find which method works best for you....

    "Those who would trade liberty for safety deserve neither." - Ben Franklin

  9. #9
    Recent studies indicate there is NO SAFE WAY to do a dependent slide board or quad pivot transfer. We have totally banned these where I work. Even done the perfect way we teach staff, the loads on your lumbar spine, neck and shoulders exceed the OSHA recommended maximums by as much as 600%!!!!

    I would strongly recommend that you see about getting either a mobile or ceiling track lift to minimize the brute lifting that you will be doing. It is not a matter of being strong or being trained properly. These injuries are repetative stress, and with time you will be injured. If you are, you are out of the picture as a caregiver. You need to take care of yourself in order to take care of him.

    (KLD)

  10. #10
    Senior Member zillazangel's Avatar
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    Originally posted by SCI-Nurse:

    Recent studies indicate there is NO SAFE WAY to do a dependent slide board or quad pivot transfer. We have totally banned these where I work. Even done the perfect way we teach staff, the loads on your lumbar spine, neck and shoulders exceed the OSHA recommended maximums by as much as 600%!!!!

    I would strongly recommend that you see about getting either a mobile or ceiling track lift to minimize the brute lifting that you will be doing. It is not a matter of being strong or being trained properly. These injuries are repetative stress, and with time you will be injured. If you are, you are out of the picture as a caregiver. You need to take care of yourself in order to take care of him.

    (KLD)
    Thanks for the info, but there will be inevitable times when I'll have to transfer him manually such as when we travel (which we do fairly frequently to visit family), so I do want to learn how to do this properly and want to strengthen myself. So, with that in mind, any suggestions?

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