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Walking. What to expect?

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    Walking. What to expect?

    Went to elective surgery for 3-level anterior cervical discectomy/fusion. Unknown by all, had spinal epidural abcess posteriorly. Woke up from surgery paralyzed. Abcess removed( after MRI) later that night. 12 days in ICU then to TIRR in Houston for 7 weeks. Surgery on 02-26-2015.
    Been driving a car for a year. Lack fine motor skills in both hands. Catheter dependent but I know when I need to go.Drop foot( I use an AFO) on left side. Been walking w/ a walker for about 6 months. Been walking at the gym for about 5 months. Strength, which I work on daily, seems to be lacking. If I place my hand on my trainers shoulder, I walk much better and further. Balance?
    Am on the waiting list for the Neuro Recovery Network at TIRR in Houston. Should be there in November or December for (3) months. Any ideas as to what I can expect? I do know that we will be doing Locomotor Training with the suspension device on the treadmill. Any opinion or insight is appreciated

    You are lucky! I don't think anyone can really say how far you will go in your recovery as everyone is different. My thoughts are: if you can take a poop like a normal person, count your blessings!!!!


      Although I agree with Mombo that you should be thankful, I also want to encourage you to set your expectations high. I believe that the higher you set your expectations and keep a positive mindset while consistently working to achieve your goals will lead to the best possible recovery.

      Bless you and best of luck.


        it is a tough road. All you can do is try.


          I have been trying to walk for ten years. This past year I have lost 20 lbs and can walk a few blocks or farther if I have too. In the previous years I just couldn't do it and was in the worst shape of my life.
          The one thing I would say is to slowly push yourself to do more. Consistency is the key. By that I mean try to maintain a routine(rut). It doesn't take much to throw a wrench in your plans and maybe you will improve more and quicker than expected.
          Swimming or pool work is a great way to exercise if you have access to one.
          Don't wait for a recovery program it is too frustrating. Make your dialy routine your recovery program.
          I have a Jack Russel pup named Luigi that needs attention all the time.
          This means letting him outside to play and relive himself. I have found looking after him is a great way to make yourself do more and not get trapped in the disabled world that I live in.

          If you don't have a pet I would get one. The responsibility that they create is good. I wish you well on your recovery and hope it doesn't have to many bumps in it.


            Pool is really helpful. It is easy on the body. Like Steve said make a routine to do things.


              I have a daily regimen @ gym for 6 days/week. Hoping and praying that Locomotor Training and/or Stem cell therapy helps. I'm not afraid of hard work and I still am optimistic that I'll walk w/o a walker one day. I'm not counting on these other therapies but remain hopeful that they may help. Thx for your encouragement and best of luck to you.


                My sci was 46 years ago, with similar after effects as yours. Left foot drop,
                no fine motor hand/finger movement, short distance walking with a

                spastic gait. Poor balance and overall muscle weakness.
                Able to tell when bladder/bowel are full but have fast-escalating AD if there is any delay to empty.

                I haven't had the locomotor training, but I try to replicate it somewhat in my pool.

                A pool with a waist-to chest-high depth and flat floor is ideal.
                Wear a flotation vest if you're unsteady in the water.

                The water supplies resistance which helps build strength and it also slows your movements so you can think through and be deliberate with each-
                lifting foot, knee, moving forward, etc. Break the movements down into sequence and be aware of each one.

                The water also reduces your feeling of weight/heaviness because of buoyancy,

                so you aren't working against gravity as much. You can walk back and forth in the water and use the side of pool as a grab-bar to stabilize your upright stance.
                The long, dense flotation foam pool noodles are great, you can replicate a parallel bars setup using the fixed

                pool edge on one side, a foam noodle on the other. Practice walking sideways, backwards,
                do everything slowly and be aware of all the muscles, sequences of each movement.

                Watch some dvds or take lessons in tai chi, which is great for improving your core strength and balance.

                Also classical ballet barre technique(football players use this training!) is excellent to keep in mind as a template for how to think about each movement from within.

                Having very specific goals and technique to aim for will serve you well in the long run

                and help you build awareness of your post sci body's capabilities and function.

                Don't overdo your daily exercise, it's fatiguing and demanding mentally and physically and

                you need to rest longer between exertions than when you were AB. Let your muscles/mind recover between sessions and even between sets within each session
                and you will make faster progress.

                Avoid falling-be extremely aware and avoid tripping, losing your balance as much as you can-this happens when you aren't paying attention and/or you're overtired. I don't walk (except in the pool) anymore because over the decades I've had too many falls, broken bones, a concussion.

                Making small, steady progress is more efficient than pushing too hard and then having to recover from overuse or a fall. It's a very fine daily, sometimes hourly, balancing act to accurately gauge your energy & strength level--they will vary a lot, depending on many factors.

                Don't rule out getting some more recovery of your hand function-find something you like to do with your hands and again, make specific
                goals. Play with play-dough when you're watching tv just to keep your hands moving.
                Back to the pool- if you're steady enough, you can achieve an 'assisted stand' by placing
                the foam noodle between your legs (like you're riding a broom) and then have two more noodles to use as floating parallel bars.
                You have to experiment with water depth to see where the best area for your height, balance, etc. can work.
                Working with a PT to find methods that work for you will give you a head start on the locomotor training later in the year.

                The water also seems to help many with pain management & relief, myself included.

                Maintain some interests other than your rehab, you need to have absolute breaks from thinking about it.

                Walking with limitations is a decent goal but be open minded about the longterm picture

                and all the various ways in which you can get from point to point.
                Good luck and go slow and steady, like the tortoise in the fable.
                Life can be very good, whether walking or rolling.