Monday, November 26, 2012

Stroke recovery: From where I lie

My view of cloudy weather from second-floor

I started today’s therapy session in a prone position with my left shoulder encased in a heating pad wrapped in towels.  Recent cooler temperatures have increased the stroke-induced tone that tightens my shoulder to a painful degree.

To combat that tightness a 15-minute appointment with the heating pad has preceded my working with occupational therapist Amy to improve the strength and control of my left arm muscles. Today I pulled out my camera during my date with the heating pad and shot what I could see.

The challenge was my position on a mat in a far corner at the back of the gym, the need to avoid having other patients in my snaps and unsteadiness. To my right were windows with a view of the sky. To my left Amy was working with another patient.

For me and for her other patients Amy devises creative exercises to fit the specific deficiences her patients experience.

If it helps a patient, Amy doesn’t hesitate to take to the floor.

Amy works with another patient.

My photo session wasn’t stellar. But my therapy session with Amy was more positive. The workout she gave my left shoulder and arm also gave the right side of my brain a vigorous retraining experience.

She held my arm up and away with a red theraband. As I lay on my back, my job was to bring my arm back to my side with my elbow straight. I could do it if I could look at my arm. But that was a no no. Amy doesn’t want me to develop the habit of looking down in order to move my arm. She rounded up a bell, positioned it where my hand should wind up. Then she talked me through the movement.

As I had a few successes ringing the bell I could tell my control was improving with fewer verbal cues. I still have little sensory input other than sight and sound about what is happening on my left side. I hope that, as with earlier movements I have relearned, I will begin to recognize other cues about where my arm is and what it is doing as I become more successful in accomplishing specific movements.

From where I lie, that possibility looks pretty good to me.


  1. This is fascinating. I am amazed at the different exercises that these therapists have to help relearn things that may have seemed second nature prior to a stroke or injury to the brain. I'm thankful you have such a great therapist.

    Also, I love that you were using your camera to get a new perspective of things. You are making great progress.

  2. You are getting there. It is amazing what those PT's can do to get results. Great post about your recovery!!! And, I am so glad to hear about all the positive results.

  3. I love the way those physical therapists are all so young and flexible. I hope they enjoy their good health.

    Meanwhile with the cold and rain settling in here, I think of warm sand and blue skies. Sigh!!


  4. I agree with the English Teacher, this is fascinating and also this is something MadSnapper would do while waiting. she sounds perfect and we know how much you have improved.

  5. Occupational therapists and physical therapists are amazing people. I have such great respect for their skills, patience and patience. It sounds as if you have some really good folks in your court. It sounds as of you are benefiting well from it. Hurrah!

  6. What a long and hard battle this has been for you, but you are winning! We share a common thread now, with both having struggles. It is cool to see your sweet therapist, and the tree decorating post is divine!!! What could be better?

  7. What wonderful exercises to repattern your brain.
    I never thought about the visual cues we just take for granted.
    I am so happy there is progress.
    As you know...Slow and Steady wins the race.
    Blessings to you my friend.

  8. Sounds like you're doing well with your O.T. The fact you have some slight responses certainly gives therapy something on which to build a plan to increase your abilities.

    I recall years ago recommending to her doctor O.T. for one of my S.T. patients. The doctor said, "Oh, I don't believe in it." Then, as an after thought she added, "Actually, I don't know what they do." So, I explained what they would do for this patient I thought. Later I checked the patient's chart and the doctor had ordered O.T. for my S.T. patient. I think most doctors understand more about what each of our therapies do. Typically, they're most familiar with P.T.

  9. It's great to hear that you are continuing to make progress:)

    I gained the utmost respect for physical and occupational therapists after watching my daddy go through rehab many years ago (following a 2 month stay in ICU).

  10. I'm visiting from Patti's blog. It sounds like you're working hard and making progress. Just the idea of you taking photos makes me smile. Good Luck!