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Thread: walking help neurorecovery?

  1. #1

    walking help neurorecovery?

    does walking help neurorecovery for SCI?
    for completes, KAFOs, does this help the chance of being able to walk,
    for incompletes, clearly walking helps...is it not proven that walking with KAFOs will help recovery, even however long and hard it is?
    walking on a treadmill in a biodex, etc

    is this not true:
    walking is great for sci recovery, as long as it takes

    of course it is great physical therapy, but that's not the thread im looking to get into ... im looking to see people's experiences with walking and their recovery, completes, and incs
    Last edited by freedomdan; 02-03-2009 at 08:46 PM.

  2. #2
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    Does it help? I sure think it has for me, I went from a chair, to a walker to a cane, and now the cane's seem to be history. It's been over 5 years, but, I never gave up, and try to one up things every day. I used a tread mill and a stationary bike at the start, and gradualy increased my therapies. I walk every day, I use the stairs in the house every day. walking in my driveway is a challange, unpaved, like a mine field with iron and equipment it is dangerous and the complete "if you fall, you're going to get hurt" therapy. I've since graduated to moving boats in the water, just to test my balance, and it does.

  3. #3
    I think it does. While it's hard to say what kind of recovery my son (an L1 burst fracture) would have had if we didn't press for intensive physical therapy and walking, I do think the walking (which was the goal of the PT) played an important role. He now has good function to L3 and some to L4 (according to the EMG). At first he had no movement below the waist. I think the walking is beneficial not only because it reminds the body how to do the movements, it also puts gravity to work and keeps the blood moving. He is two years out and we continue to incorporate walking in his exercise program and he is uses crutches whenever possible when out and about or in school.

    Just my opinion, but I think if it's possible for you to use KAFOs or AFOs and walk around, even if it's short distances, then you should. Don't worryy if you can only go a short distance. My son started with KAFOs in the parallel bars and progressed from there and it took a long time and a lot of work. His first time out of the parallel bars with the KAFOs he went 7 feet. First time with the AFOs it was 9 feet.

    I don't know what it means, but now if he goes longer distances he can feel muscles fatiguing that the EMG shows he clearly doesn't have function in.

    Please don't take this as a huge ray of sunshine for the future, I really can't say if my son or anyone else will/has gotten return because of walking. But I am a firm believer that it is well worth a try. Like you said, if nothing else just the exercise is good for the body.

    Best wishes.
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  4. #4
    I will throw in my 2 cents here:

    First off, I am an incomplete para at L1 7 years out from a skiing accident.

    Exercise in what ever form is good. Any muscle that can contract should be 'exercised' or squeezed. I had a tiny little hamstring return 12 months after my injury that I could only demonstrate in a swimming pool. But I contracted and squeezed and more came back. Now it does help decelerate my lower leg with walking a bit. I don't know if crutch walking improved neurorecovery but once a nerve recovers it has to fire a muscle . So better have that muscle as strong as possible when that happens.
    I actually think that the neurorecovery is on its own course for each individual and not related to 'trying hard'. You can't tell ever what brought it back. People ascribe recover on all sorts of things around here. Magnetism, Prayer, PT, OT, diet, vitamins, snake oil, exercise. With that said, if you lie in bed all day, your muscles will not be strong if the day comes that you get nerve fibers firing.
    What I found to be a challenge was staying motivated to try walking and leg exercise when it was clear to me (although this turned out to be wrong fortunately) that this was not 'functional walking' but rather just 'therapeutic walking'. A voice in the back of my head said 'why bother - you will never be a functional walker'. Being stubborn, I ignored this voice and continued. My wife reminds me that there was one year, when the pain was almost intolerable that I quit trying to ambulate.
    But 10 months ago, I had a revision spine surgery that helped with pain and posture to the point that walking has become functional. 7 years after the injury, go figure - what a rollercoaster ride.
    I just related this story to help you if that voice in the back of your head says "why bother' - ignore it. Strive, that is what organisms like us people do. But stay sane too. This has turned into a large story - sorry if I babbled there.....
    Jon

  5. #5
    Moderator jody's Avatar
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    yes it does. however I have had to start over each time I lose tone. build it up and it is getting harder to do as the years move. it takes more and more work, for less and less return. not to discourage you, just saying you cant let up.

  6. #6
    Senior Member Rick1's Avatar
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    One of the basic principles of exercise is that, if intense enough, it provides the necessary stimulus for the body to adapt and enhance. This, of course, is based on the idea that the human body is an efficient organism which resists change unless stimulated by a demand exceeding it’s current ability.

    So, in terms of exercise-based “neuro-recovery,” the objective is to build on the body’s ability to establish new connections by creating challenges which force the body into a state of adaptation.

    The bottom line for people with SCI:
    • There are no guarantees.
    • A long term perspective is essential.
    • There are no guarantees.
    • Consistency pays the biggest dividends.
    • There are no guarantees.
    Know Thyself

  7. #7
    Senior Member fishin'guy's Avatar
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    My PT told me, and I can feel it also, that enen when wearing the AFO and KAFO, your muscles still flex and work, so it helps to do the walking.

  8. #8

    It can

    I believe and studies have shown, that recovery after SCI is activity based. Meaning if you want to recover walking, practice walking, if you want to ride a bike, get on one and so on and so forth. With that said any exercise is good, especially those that work your"paralyzed" muscles. In the quest to walk again, don't ignore the importance of trunk control and strength. Walking with back pain because of weakened and neglected abdominal/back muscles is no fun.
    If possible get braces(if needed of course) like soft knee immbolizers, that while allowing you to bear weight, also give you room to bend and straigthen your knee within the brace, while keeping you off the floor. I found KAFO's to be inferior in this regard. Recovery is nothing if not highly individual, all you can do is try and hope that your work pays off. I echo everything Rick1 said.

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