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T6 complete - can trunk control be compensated for?

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  • T6 complete - can trunk control be compensated for?

    I have a T6 complete SCI, ASIA A, cord was 90% severed. Obviously I have no movement/sensation below the chest. First of all, I can balance very well if I don't have any support to lean/hold on to, as far as staying upright. However, as soon as I have to hold both of my arms out or hold things with both hands, I have zero stability. Given that I can't gain any muscle control in my abs and lower back, I'm wondering if there are any muscles above my injury that I could strengthen to compensate.

    So is it possible to sit with both arms straight out in front of me (not slouching back in my chair, but sitting straight up) solely from muscles in my upper back/shoulders/chest? Or is use of my "trunk" to some extent absolutely necessary to do this?

    And I'm not looking to debate wether or not I can regain anything below my injury level, just whether or not muscles I do have can be strong enough to compensate for having no trunk. Thanks
    Last edited by Brad09; 08-19-2015, 09:45 PM.

  • #2
    You will learn to hold yourself up with your arms. I'm the same basically a T4.

    Unless you lean back in your chair something will need to hold you up. Over time I have adapted and learned what works for me. In the process my shoulders and elbows used to be very sore. Now people don't even know I'm doing it.

    Some muscles in your core might help aid your posture but thats unique to you. I personally would love to have my core muscles back. I would be able to do so much more.
    Last edited by cfx; 08-20-2015, 08:58 AM.

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    • #3
      Your arms are your support and with enough arm/upper body strength you can hold yourself up without slouching as you build up those muscles.
      CWO
      The SCI-Nurses are advanced practice nurses specializing in SCI/D care. They are available to answer questions, provide education, and make suggestions which you should always discuss with your physician/primary health care provider before implementing. Medical diagnosis is not provided, nor do the SCI-Nurses provide nursing or medical care through their responses on the CareCure forums.

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      • #4
        I'm a T6 too. The best balance I had was when I raced wheelchairs. My stomach got flatish and I could hold my balance a bit better. The problem was, as the muscles I had got stronger/bigger, my arms got heavier and it was a wash for holding my arms out like you want. Weird eh?

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        • #5
          Originally posted by SCI-Nurse View Post
          Your arms are your support and with enough arm/upper body strength you can hold yourself up without slouching as you build up those muscles.
          CWO
          Im kind of confused as to what you are saying. When you say hold myself up without slouching are you talking about just sitting upright, or being able to hold my arms in front of me like I described? If so, how would my upper body keep me from falling forward?

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          • #6
            Originally posted by baldfatdad View Post
            I'm a T6 too. The best balance I had was when I raced wheelchairs. My stomach got flatish and I could hold my balance a bit better. The problem was, as the muscles I had got stronger/bigger, my arms got heavier and it was a wash for holding my arms out like you want. Weird eh?
            When you were racing, what was it exactly that gave you better balance?

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            • #7
              Originally posted by Brad09 View Post
              When you were racing, what was it exactly that gave you better balance?
              I believe it was just having every muscle in my torso hot as strong as it could get. You push 5-10 miles every day and you get stronger. Still had a gimp belly, but it was tiny. A buddy of mine is a quad and got the use of his tri-ceps after 18 years in the chair.

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              • #8
                Brad-

                Without regaining function in your mid to low back area, it would not be possible to hold your arms out in front of you without slouching. This area of the back is what gives you a lordotic curve which stabilizes your trunk and pelvis. To sit up straight while holding your arms out you must be able to "roll up" onto your hips (anterior pelvic tilt) and then engage your low back to stabilize otherwise once your arms go up and out, your trunk must go backwards in space to counteract the weight of your arms. If it didn't you would just fall forward.

                Hope this helps.


                Eric Harness, CSCS
                Founder/President
                Neuro Ex, Inc
                Adaptive Performance and Neuro Recovery

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