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Questions for the Walkers

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    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.

    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.


      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.
      C7/C8, T1 incomplete;

      For stalkers convenience:
      My drawings:


        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.

        i do one leg at a time.
        Never take life seriously, nobody gets out alive anyway

        Frank's blog:
        My regular blog:


          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:

          Also, there's a link to a video I recently made showing me walking at 1, 3 and 5 years post here: .. 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!


            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


              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!
              C7/C8, T1 incomplete;

              For stalkers convenience:
              My drawings:


                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


                  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.
                  “As the cast of villains in SCI is vast and collaborative, so too must be the chorus of hero's that rise to meet them” Ramer et al 2005


                    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.



                      So fantastic to hear that on only your third visit to a accupuncturist that you got full range of movement back in your toes. I have heard that an accupuncturist might be helpful, but never realized the extent. My daughter is C/6 incomplete post 1 yr. and her left side is much weaker than her right. It is extremely difficult for her to wiggle her left toes. She drags her left foot when she walks wth forearm crutches. In what other ways has the acupunctist helped you? How often do you go?


                        Hi mom01,
                        Im also nearly 1yr post and have finally only just started going to actupuncture after months of talking about it. I have probably been about 5 times. I started a few weeks ago and am going twice a week.

                        I was so excited & suprised 2 get that return so quickly. The Dr actually uses a machine with cords and suction caps attached to end and placed them on my right side (weaker side 4 me) on my neck, shoulder, arm, hand and on my right leg and ankle. He then pumps up the current to "wake up" the nerves. Its a no needle acupuncture.

                        I did have a little movement in right toes already but very weak and not full range. Now my toes are so strong. Im just hoping to see a result in my hand. He told me that the hands take a lot longer to recover.

                        Im also drinking a revolting chinese herbal extract that he made for me. Not sure if its helped at all but the Dr thinks its pretty important.

                        Anyway good luck, I was told that it doesn't work for everyone and there are no guarantees but I think its difinitely worth a try. I will let u know if i get any more return. Fingers crossed!


                          Hi Matt, I am 17 years post car accident. I am L1-L2 (one of my docs call me complete and one calls me incomplete) with no feeling or movement in my feet. When I first came home, I had forearm crutches. I have always required AFO's on both feet to keep my feet from dropping. Ive always just put one foot in front of the other like anyone else. I worked my way to a cane and then gave up the cane. I have a swayed gait like a penguin for lack of better analogy. My right leg is my weaker side. I dont have complete use of any of my leg muscles and the sensation is really weird in places. I have fell too many times to count. A couple of years ago I went back to the cane when I started having more and more pain. I second what wildwilly said about the braces. I had to have a 23 hour surgery in 1993 because of an ill fitting brace and a doctor who didnt understand. I like you walk most places but with far distances I seem to get tired. I just make sure there are plenty of places to sit. I sometimes use a scooter. I like to garden and I use the scooter in my yard. No way I could use a manual chair there. I just read your post on turning 25. I been there too. I was getting ready to turn 21 with a six month old baby when I had my accident. You are still young you will look back some day and say "wow I did all that?"
                          Last edited by darkeyed_daisy; 18 May 2006, 8:48 AM.
                          T12-L2; Burst fracture L1: Incomplete walking with AFO's and cane since 1989

                          My goal in life is to be as good of a person my dog already thinks I am. ~Author Unknown


                            I had my operation on 3/12/2004 for cervical stenosis. ( c3-c7 ) Aside from alot of problems I was having, walking was the biggest issue. The doctors said I needed the surgery to avert paraylisis. Up until about 6 months post-op I made a little progress and then one day my right leg went out from under me and I hobbled the rest of the two blocks home. Even before the surgery my legs felt as though they were shaking with every step and still do. That's the spacisity I've been told. I walk around the house with a cane but don't get out to much anymore. The more I walk, the more pain and spasms later on. Funny thing is, and I have already posted this with no replies: I can walk pretty normaly backwards!! Going upstairs is no problem either, but coming down is very hard. We recently moved from a 4th floor walkup apartment to the 1st floor, so I didn't have to go down the stairs anymore. Basically walking is just real hard, with or without cane, but without cane causes other problems such as testicle pain.


                              Walking better and better

                              I had SCI some 8 years ago, a flying accident, trying to be a bird (paragliding). Incomplete L1 paraplegic. Initially doctors told me never to walk again. Little did they know about me and Finnish Sisu.
                              6 Months after the accident I took my first steps with the help of parallel bars and Forrest Gump style callipers in my legs.
                              Even then the health professionals here in NZ were discouraging me with my walking efforts and I was told by the insurance company if they fund me callipers and crutches, they will be gathering dust in the cupboard.
                              It was my high tech carbon fibre rear suspension Vision Reactor wheelchair which was gathering dust and 5 years ago I took it to the insurance company and told them to give it to somebody who needs it more than me.
                              I was able to get rid of wheelchair because I discovered a 4-wheeled Esla kick scooter on my trip to Finland. This allowed me to carry shopping and do good distance by using my legs for kicking.
                              I was not happy about the design so with help of engineer we designed my own design which I call Slida. Now I have Mark V and I have sold previous models to various people, some with and some without mobility challenges.
                              Often I get into trouble when I use it in shopping malls where security does not know me as they take me as 40 something guy just hooning around with a new type of scooter. This is a great compliment as they don't see me as somebody with spinal injury
                              Another type of excercise I have started couple months ago is Advanced Vibrational Therapy using Power Plate machines. I have noticed improved strength and improved muscle control but it is still early days and hopefully can improve strength of my right leg enough to be able to weight bear and use my scooter standing on either leg.
                              So things are looking pretty positive at the moment and good to hear you guys and gals taking steps towards your recovery as well.