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Thread: Questions for the Walkers

  1. #1

    Questions for the Walkers

    I just wanted to ask those of you who can and do walk, about walking. I am a C6 incomplete and I can walk with crutches. I can walk a lot of places but if it's too far I will get too tired, so I use a manual chair for trips to the mall, etc.

    -Do you wear any AFO's or braces or anything? Which of your legs is stronger or are they the same? How about your hand function?

    I wear an AFO on my right leg to keep my foot set at a 90-degree angle, or otherwise the toe would drag. My left leg is almost as strong as it was before my accident and I have complete function of all its muscles. I also drive using my left foot, without any modifications or hand controls. My right leg is a lot weaker and I can't move my foot, which is why I wear the brace.

    As for my hands, my left one is practically normal but my right hand is severely limited. I can't move my thumb and can only move the fingers at the first knuckle.

    Please tell me about yourself and what your experience walking is like. How do you walk? Do you use crutches and/or walker? When you walk with crutches, do you move each leg separately like an able-bodied person, or do you swing both legs forward together like the guy in the breakdance video?

    Thank you in advance for the responses and I apologize if this is a repeated topic; I am just very curious.

  2. #2
    I was injured at L1 almost 7 months ago. My motor deficits are pretty symmetric, basically weak glutes, hams and calfs.

    At home, I usually hobble short distances (one leg in front of the other, extremely weak). I "walk" a lot better with assistive devices (canes or walker), usually when I go to grocery store or to my appointments and such. I do a 2 point gait.

    I'll use the chair for longer distances.
    Daniel

  3. #3
    Senior Member mr_coffee's Avatar
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    SOunds like ur doing great!

    I'm c7, incomplete. I use to walk without any bracing, but i screwed up my knee's by doing so after awhile because my muscles didn't devlope evenly in my legs.

    I walk full time even if its a very far walk, I just make sure there is some place to sit, i look ahead and plan out where i'm going to take a break at, if it feels like i'm gonna have to pee soon, etc. Because if i have to pee its 10x harder for me to walk.

    I walk with 1 KAFO without the knee joint, so its really a brace that will stabalize my knee from hyperextenion and to also prevent foot drop. My leg legs return is some hamstring (-2), and some quad, but i swing it through (no hipflexors). Some of the doctors don't know how im' walking so good with just that return.

    On the other Leg(my good leg) i have to wear a knee stabalizing athetlic brace. Its just black, but not the smallest of braces either.

    Its a real pain in the ass taking them on and off anytime I want to walk but I remember when I couldn't walk and i'd give anything to do what i do now.

    The walking patern is a 2 point gait i believe. 1 crutch goes at the same time as the opposite foot goes to take a step. Both the opposite crutch and foot hit the floor the same time then I switch. People don't think i have an sci, they always ask me if i got hurt in a sports accident which i a compliment to me.

    My left hand looks normal but its hard to explain what it can't do, my thumb can't roll inward proplery so if i pick somthing up with it, it looks odd. It also seems like there is a fore arm msucle in it missing. It seems to be the same size as my right one but there's somthing strange about it when i try to move it certain ways.

    I also use to walk fulltime with a walker but now i can't walk with a walker as far as i can with forearm crutches. The mian reason why has somthing to do with it really makes my back arch badly and then i can't hardly walk at all.

    Sorry the post is kinda random but hope it helps!



    I don't want to ever touch/look at my chair again if i don't have too.
    Injured:10-16-04
    C7/C8, T1 incomplete;


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  4. #4
    Senior Member cali's Avatar
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    i'm c6-7 i walk with RGO (reciprocating gait orthotics) braces. i use a walker and quad crutches.

    i have a video of it here.

    http://carecure.org/forum/showthread.php?t=62567

    i do one leg at a time.
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  5. #5
    Wow Matt, when I started reading your post, I almost thought you were describing me! My injury is at C6 also, my left side is much stronger, I use a AFO on my right leg, I drive with my left foot, I don't have much going on in my right hand.

    Maybe the only difference is that I walk with a cane, though I used crutches when I was three years post-injury .. I'm five years post now. A big part of the difference for me was the body-weight-supported treadmill training clinical trial I was part of in 2004. I posted extensively about it here: http://carecure.org/forum/showthread.php?t=47768

    Also, there's a link to a video I recently made showing me walking at 1, 3 and 5 years post here: http://carecure.org/forum/showthread.php?t=59665 .. you can see the difference the trial made for me .. a big part of the last two years.

    You say you use crutches, are they forearm crutches? Cory describes a two-point gait which is a good, functional way to walk with them .. you can see me doing that in my video too .. swinging your legs through is really not so good. Also, I rarely use the wheelchair, though at the rally in DC last week I used it more than I have in the past year as the distances were pretty far. At home, I can deal with malls and large stores just fine, but if I have to walk more than, say, a quarter mile, it gets kind of hard on me.

    This topic does get revisited here, you will find a lot more if you do a search on "walking" in the Exercise & Recovery forum. Keep at it .. I wish you the best in your recovery!

  6. #6
    Senior Member JustinB's Avatar
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    I have an L1 burst fracture, with no return in ankles and feet, 2-/5 hip abductors, 2/5 hip extensors.

    I use AFOs on each ankle that prevent my toes from dropping more than 90 degrees from my leg, but they allow flexing in the other direction so that as my leg travels backwards during a step, the ankle bends.

    I was (kinda) walking with forearm crutches on and off in therapy for about a month, but purchased some for use during a trip to the beach. At about the same time, I did something (I have no idea what) but it started REALLY hurting any time I was sitting. What with being in a wheelchair and all, that sucked. But it stopped hurting within minutes of either laying down or standing.

    I hate my walker, so I just started going around on crutches. I fell a couple of times, but rapidly improved so that I can walk about three city blocks now (1.5 out, 1.5 back). That's about 2 weeks after really trying to spend a lot more time walking.

    Both legs are close enough to the same strength that it doesn't matter, hand movement is normal.

    Swinging (legs) is bad - don't do it. While learning, I was using a 4 point gait (crutch - opposite leg - crutch - opposite leg) but moved to a 2 point as Corey describes when I didn't feel as though I was in danger of falling with each step.


    -- JB

  7. #7
    Senior Member mr_coffee's Avatar
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    Congradulations on the walking JustinB! Thats impressive, i can't walk that long yet i don't think but i'm working on it!

    As Justin said, start out in a 4 piont gait. Make sure you have people besides you though. I took me awhile to get the pattern. A few times i would move the same crutch and the same leg and almost always eat it. Each fall you take it gets easier as long as you don't fall backwards!

    GOodluck man!
    Injured:10-16-04
    C7/C8, T1 incomplete;


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  8. #8
    Senior Member JustinB's Avatar
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    Another thread reminded me: I like using road biking gloves when using forearm crutches or a walker. They are made for distributing any pressure over the entire area of you plam, rather than right under the knuckles. Makes it far more comfortable for your hands.

    -- JB

  9. #9
    You need to find an orthotist and PT that are willing to help you recover. By this I mean that the goal should be to walk without braces (You may always need some type of brace for safety but do not let anyone set a sub par goal of modified independent). You need to have braces that provide stability/joint safety and have room for adjustment as your muscle function improves. This could be daily, weekly, monthly.... My point is to allow for the use of recovered muscle function as soon as possible in a safe manner. To often individuals are braced inadequately (over or under braced) and D/C from therapy with little or no follow up. I would suggest that you read Bruce's threads on his gait training. I have used several of the methods implemented in the clinical trial the Bruce participated in with great results.
    Wildwilly

  10. #10
    Hi Matt,
    Your injury must be similar to mine.I'm C5/6 incomplete with a weaker right side. I have a very strong left leg and have regained full movement in my left hand.
    My right hand is another story - I can't straighten my fingers at all and have no individual finger movement. I can hold cups ect. and pick things up (in an awakard way).
    I have thumb movement but cannot bring it towards my hand. It kind of sits away. I also have muscle loss across th back of hand.
    Im writing with my right hand (ditched the writing splint) though this can take a while.
    My walking is improving over time. I don't use a chair at all. I was wearing an AFO but got rid of it about 6 months ago. I walk with one forearm crutch which I hold with my left hand and place down at the same time as my right foot.
    I mainly use the crutch for balance when out and about but never at home. I am able to move my right foot but don't have full range of ankle lift (dorsi flexion?).
    On friday I got full range of movement back in my right toes after only 3 visits to an actupuncture. I was very excited about that & just hope it will eventually bring some recovery to my hand.
    I also drive with a left foot pedal and no hand controls.
    I hope this has helped. I am also curious Do you suffer from any pain? I have a lot of neuro pain across the backs of my hands. Im not on any meds.
    All the best.

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