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Thread: Ask a PT

  1. #51
    Great question! And an interesting situation... The spasms are unfortunately not likely to decrease. He definitely needs daily range to prevent muscle shortening, which makes spasms stronger. And he needs to try medication, possibly a baclofen pump to control the spasms.
    Spasticity is helpful to keep a muscle belly, aid circulation, and let you know when something is wrong. But if it is so strong that it is painful, or that it interferes with function, then medical intervention is needed.
    But about the exercise - some of the strengthening I do with newly injured (which would be gentle enough for him) include:
    - basic pulley exercises with a wrist cuff for biceps, rows, internal and external rotation, and pull down if he can do that.
    - proning on elbows. I stand over them to support body weight in my forearms if they can hold themselves. From here, he can do head raises, push ups, and weight shifts.
    - wrist weights can be used
    - supine on a mat, lifting his head, and moving his arms to learn how to use gravity for what he doesn't have

    That's where I would start. Do they make sense? Good luck!!

  2. #52
    I've said it before, but it's worth repeating again:
    People often focus so much on strengthen, strengthen, strengthen and forego the stretch. The stretching will keep you balanced and help you to get stronger!! Yes, it takes time and is tedious, but I promise you it's worth the work! If you need to have someone help you, get someone who has an idea of how to stretch you safely.

  3. #53
    Junior Member
    Join Date
    Dec 2011
    South Carolina
    i am a c6/c7 9 years now. feeling throughout, have KAFOs - that i have in the past used at home for exercise / weight bearing. have not used for almost a year now and need to get back in the habit of using the braces. any recommendations? currently i am just standing for 10-15 minutes at a time, but i am planning for increased walking in near future.

  4. #54
    S.C. - the only concern I have is your hips... You have significant bone loss from 9 years of injury, and a year off is quite a bit. I would definitely start by increasing your standing time - are you standing in a frame or on the KAFOs?

    You may want to consult an MD who specializes in SCI to ask about your bones, and how quickly you can build up. It's the part of your femur that angles up to the hip joint (femoral neck) that you don't want to fracture.

    You will certainly have to start walking again slowly - like only a few steps to start, then adding a few more steps each time. I think it's a wonderful activity, and I think it's great you get back into walking again - just do it safely.

  5. #55
    Junior Member
    Join Date
    Dec 2011
    South Carolina
    scitotalfitness - just KAFOs and a walker. i have an annual appointment with a SCI MD where we discuss overall health, etc. thanks for your input. for now standing seems logical and it helps my spasms tremendously

  6. #56


    I have a cauda equina injury (t12), how should i use the electronic stimulation to wake up my nerves? Also...i have very weak calves/hamstrings...i have been working on strengthening them for months and do not see much inprovement if any. will the muscles still strengthen even if the nerve isn't working properly?!

    Quote Originally Posted by scitotalfitness View Post
    One thing that is important I should have mentioned when writing about electrical stimulation - the parameters I gave are for injuries above L1, and only for injuries of the spinal cord. The parameters are for upper motor neuron injuries - not peripheral nerve injuries (which cauda equina injuries fall under) So if you have a lumbar level SCI, estim is not in your treatment plan.

    Now, onto balance training. Doing balance activities would help (always do in a secure setting so you can catch yourself or someone else can help):
    - practice just standing without using your arms
    - once that is easy, close your eyes. See if you sway
    - keep your eyes, stand with your feet as close together as you can get
    - try walking the line
    - if this gets easy, try a softer surface

    The bigger issue is the lack of sensation going back to your brain to tell your muscles to adjust for balance. That you can't train, you need to compensate for it. Have you ever tried walking with braces? Some AFOs may help. I know people don't like them, but they could make it safer to walk without the canes and can be hidden under clothes. If you get articulating ankle joints, you are not preventing motor recovery. Those are the 2 biggest reasons I hear from people who would benefit from braces but don't wear them.

    Good luck!
    Life is what happens to you while you're busy making other plans. -- John Lennon

  7. #57
    Senior Member rdf's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2001
    Someplace between Nowhere and Goodbye
    Hi scitotalfitness, thanks for your help to so many.

    I have a question please. Can I use a standing frame after 25 years being in the chair, with the only standing a few months early on 20+ years ago?

    The local PT said no problem, but I'm worried about fracturing any bones, or doing some damage. Thanks for any input.

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  8. #58
    My son had a baclofen pump and was in a wheelchair for about 6 months. When the baclofen dosage was reduced, he was able to stand holding onto a walker. He can move his legs (make walking movements) laying down but gets exhausted when he takes a step or two. We been trying to rehab him ourselves. Is their any damage of pushing him to walk? He seems pretty strong now.

  9. #59
    LIP26 - estim really hasn't been proven effective for cauda equina... however, I also don't see any harm in putting it on set at a sensory level and seeing if it helps. This means the stim is on at a level you can feel (if you put it somewhere that you can't feel normally, then test it on your arm) but not strong enough to contract the muscle. Try for an hour at a time - like I said, it can't hurt, but it may not do much.

    On a positive note, if you have movement, even if it's weak, you can strengthen it. As a cauda equina injury, your progress will be slow, but keep working! You may never reach full strength, but you certainly won't get stronger if you don't try. Do you have a good exercise routine?

  10. #60
    Bobby - I have put people on standing frames after years of injury without issue, the majority of fractures I've heard about involved impact. But I think there are some things to consider:
    First, do you have an IVC filter? Have you ever had a problem with clots? It's worth checking out if you have any possibility of having a DVT. If you have a lot of spasms, that likely helps your circulation, but you can never be too careful.
    Second, the way the standing frame lifts you should be safe even for weak bones because there isn't any impact, and the force goes straight up the long bones. You could raise slowly so you aren't overloading the system if it makes you feel more comfortable.
    Hope that helps!

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