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29
Sep

Frustration

I get frustrated REALLY easily.  Way too easily.  It would be so much easier if everyone I encountered in the world knew about my disabilities.  I think I would get a lot less angry if everyone just knew and treated me accordingly.  🙂  Although that wouldn’t help because sometimes I get annoyed when people do things for me in an effort to be helpful.  Sometimes you just can’t win with me, I’m annoyed and angry at my situation.  I’ll be a much nicer person when I’m all better.

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27
Sep

Stem Cells

Stem Cells are a hot, hot, hot, hot topic.  Not sure what stem cells are exactly?  They’re cells taken from either an embryo(embryonic stem cells) and cells taken from kids or adults, usually from bone marrow but can be obtained from fat and blood(adult stem cells). They’re called adult stem cells because whatever source they are extracted from must be fully developed, the human doesn’t have to be an adult.  Or stem cells can be taken from the umbilical cord of babies and “banked” for later use.   These cells can grow and turn into whatever type of cell you need.  So, the theory is, if you have brain damage, inject stem cells into the brain and those injected cells will turn into new brain cells.  Some stem cells can only be used for the type of tissue they were taken from.  So if stem cells were extracted from the blood, they can only turn into blood cells.  If you want to read a lot of information about stem cells go here.  There isn’t enough research about stem cells and they haven’t been approved by the FDA or else they would use it as a first line of treatment, wouldn’t they?  Stories like this one and this one get me all excited.  Right now, you have to go overseas for stem cell therapy, and it’s very expensive.   I’m not sure of all the laws on stem cells in the US.  There are a lot, and different states have different rules.  But I know it’s legal to do research on stem cells.  If Peter G. Levine thinks stem cells can maybe be useful, I would do a study.  Here are some accounts of people who have received stem cells and documented their journey…..

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26
Sep

The Spine

The spine should look like a backwards ‘S.’  When looked at from the side, your spine from right beneath your skull to the tailbone should form a backwards ‘S.’  It should look like this AT ALL TIMES.  When sitting, the spine should look like it does when standing.  A lot of people slouch when they sit.  This makes the spine look like a ‘C.’  When the spine looks like a ‘C’ we say it is flexed.  That’s not right.  When I was in the hospital, my spine was a ‘C’ for a month.  A couple of things attributed to this.  1) I didn’t give a hoot about my posture at that time and 2) the way they had me positioned made it impossible to sit with good posture.  Hospital beds aren’t exactly ergonomic.  And I don’t think the nurses have been taught anything about posture.  I’m lucky that all this flexion didn’t give me a back problem.  We live in a world of flexion – when you sit or bend your spine is probably flexed.  Generally the opposite motion of how you are usually positioned will help back/neck pain.  Not always, but usually.

23
Sep

Brain Fog

When one has a stroke, that’s a huge insult to the brain. When the brain is insulted, it gets crabby and you’ll experience brain fog. For the first few months after my stroke, I didn’t fully understand what the hell was going on. My brain was damaged and not working properly. I still have brain damage but the effects of it are much different now that it’s a chronic condition as opposed to acute. I still don’t talk and walk as well as I’d like but there are absolutely no cognitive issues. I can think very clearly, and I think I’m still quite smart. :). It just doesn’t seem like it to people that don’t know me well. Oh well, I’m way over being embarrassed by this.

21
Sep

Climbing Wall Take 2

Last night, I went to my first climbing wall class.  I now know what top-roping, bouldering, and belaying mean.  It was fun, and really hard.  I liked it,  I’ll be going back.  I found more research

20
Sep

My Thoughts

I’m stealing posts from Kate Allatt.  She writes a blog called arockystrokerecovery.  She has written a few posts that mimic the way I feel sometimes.  I’ve often thought I should wear a bandage on my head.  And I agree with everything in this post.

19
Sep

Knee Extensors (Quadriceps)

Fellow stroke survivor/blogger Dean has a post about knee extensors.  Well this relates to my last post so I’ll write about it.  The knee extensors are the quadriceps.  Knee extension means the leg straightens.  The quads are the big muscles on the front of the thigh.  After a stroke, no matter where the stroke was, you’ll almost always have something wrong with these muscles.  They’ll often be weak.  In my case, there was no weakness but they seemed weak and didn’t work right because I lost all coordination.  The quadriceps are involved in A LOT of actions.  Walking, standing up, scooting, bending over, kneeling, crawling, sitting down, climbing stairs, etc.  A LOT.  Dean’s post talks about the corticospinal tract.  This is a nerve thing and not important for you as a stroke survivor to know.  What you should know is this….A muscle works better when it is stretched.  So the quadriceps are going to work better when the knee is bent a lot rather than when it is bent a little.  You can overstretch a muscle and then it won’t work as well but this will rarely be a problem for stroke survivors.  So stretch a muscle before you use it!  Also, get the knee extensors as strong as you can.  Exercises you can do at home for the quads are squats, lunges, step ups, step downs, walking.  Hmm, if you want more exercises email me!

16
Sep

Center of Gravity

I was talking to my friend recently(the OT) and she said that she used to date a guy who thought she was super strong because she could lift and move really heavy people.  Well, she’s not super strong(sorry Vic).  It’s all about manipulating that person’s center of gravity(the “balance” point on the body).  In PT school, they taught us how to properly lift and transfer(move) people.  After a stroke, these things are oh so important to know.  In fact, it was during my unit on strokes that I learned lifts and transfers.  The reason this is so important after a stroke is because a lot of your muscles are not going to do what your brain would like them to do.  When seated in a normal position, your center of gravity is right around your belly button.  To stand up, scoot to the edge of the chair and pull your feet back so that they’re under/in line with your butt – if you can, if you can’t just pull them back as far as you can.  Now, while still seated lean your upper body forward.  This moves your center of gravity forward so it’s right under your chest.  Then stand up.  It will take minimal effort of the quadriceps(thigh muscles) when the center of gravity is shifted forward.  There are lots of little “tricks” like this that make it much easier to get around.  This site is to explain transfers for geriatrics but after a stroke you age a few years:)

15
Sep

Memory

A stroke can wipe out your memories.  Everything depends on what part of the brain was damaged.  It didn’t erase my memories, luckily.  I have a really good memory.  My long-term memory did not seem to be much affected.  I always knew who I was, who my friends and family were, how old I was, the president, stuff like that.  I remember wowing some people after the stroke with things I remembered.  My short memory – not so good.  It’s fine now but after the stroke there was definitely a problem.  I had trouble recalling a story that was just read to me – among other things.  I remember I couldn’t do this one test and it frustrated me so much.  Name all the words you can that begin with the letter ‘M.’  A conjugation of a word doesn’t count.  So if you have said the word ‘mop,’ the word ‘mopping’ doesn’t count.  I think the goal is to say 11 words in a minute.  I couldn’t do that.  For a few months, I couldn’t do it.  That made me really mad!  🙂  I guess this would test long-term memory.  Anyway, couldn’t do it at first.  A friend of a friend had a stroke a few months ago and when he woke up he thought he was 5 years old.  He forgot that he was in his 30s.  Memory should be frequently assessed.  Here’s an article on memory.

13
Sep

Even More About My Gait

If you had a stroke, buy a treadmill.  Period.  Read this.  And this.  And this.  There are many more studies.  Get a treadmill.  I’m on my treadmill at least 4 times a week.  I hate not being able to do it.  When I first started walking around, it felt weird when I would advance my foot on the right side(that’s therapist speak for taking a step).  It felt different from my left foot.  I really noticed it going up stairs.  Every time I climbed a step, my right toes would hit the step.  That doesn’t happen anymore.  I wouldn’t say that everything feels the same now but close to it.

12
Sep

Posture

I get to talk about whatever I want on my blog!  So this post has more of an orthopedic lean but is beneficial for everyone so stroke survivors listen up!  I am obsessed with posture. I have a friend that says whatever ailment someone asks me about, be it the shoulder or the knee, my response is “Sit up straight!”  Well that’s not quite true but sitting up straight/ having proper posture will do WONDERS for your body.  Wonders.  You really have no idea.  My back/neck pain “guru,” Robin Mckenzie, was once asked “If you could give one piece of advice what would it be?”  He answered have proper posture.  I had a patient once that came in for back pain, I helped him, and he said “even my feet feel better!” A good piece of advice that I used to say to patients about their posture… “Sit like you stand.”  This means that when you are sitting, your spine should be as straight as when you are standing.  I’m telling you……sit up straight!  For a good back/neck therapist, go here.

10
Sep

fMRI

Everyone has heard of an MRI.  Maybe you don’t know exactly what it is – well this is what it is.  In simple terms, an MRI takes a picture of the soft tissues of the body.  An x-ray takes a picture of bones.  So if you break a bone, you get an x-ray.  If you tear your ACL or have a stroke (like me!!!) you get an MRI.  Well hopefully you get an MRI if you have a stroke, I almost didn’t.  Anyway, an x-ray takes pictures of bones and an MRI takes a picture of pretty much everything else.   So ever hear of a functional MRI(fMRI)?  This is an MRI that scans your brain while you are performing a task.  They can look at what part of the brain/how much of the brain is being used to perform that motion.  The EXCITE trial kind of kicked off the excitement(no pun intended) about neuroplasticity (rewiring of the brain).  This study showed that when a stroke patient is thought to have no more recovery in the brain, a whole lot of recovery can take place.  Keep at it, the brain changes for the rest of your life.  Site about different imaging techniques.

9
Sep

Fascinating Video

With regards to my last post, WATCH THIS.

9
Sep

Unilateral Neglect

Unilateral neglect means that you completely ignore one side of the body.  It’s fascinating.  I don’t have unilateral neglect but I’ve previously written about topics that I don’t have, so here ya go.  🙂  You’ll often hear left-sided neglect, it’s much more common to have this problem on the left side of the body (meaning that the right side of the brain was injured) but it can happen to the right side of the body too.  This is a good explanation of unilateral neglect and here is a youtube video of a patient with left-sided visual neglect.  I have never treated a patient with neglect, I imagine it would be extremely frustrating.  Vicki(one of my best friends, an OT), I bet you have treated a patient with neglect, want to add anything?

7
Sep

Kangen Water

I drink Kangen water.  I’ve heard it called alkaline water, ionized water, reduced water, electrolyzed reduced water, ionized alkaline water.  Whatever, call it what you want to call it.

I read too much on the internet.  I look up everything on the internet.  But I know how to research, I know what is right, and what’s probably wrong.  So I’m confused by people saying this water is a total scam, that it’s snake oil on tap.  I have read that there is no evidence to support its use.  That couldn’t be further from the truth.  Even this site, which is meant to “debunk” the “myth” about this water says that it has numerous health benefits and is an antioxidant!  The website says that the problem is that the people that sell this water are saying that the benefits are from the wrong property of the water.  SO WHAT??  Who cares why it will improve your health?  It will improve it.  The naysayers of this water are very passionately against it, I don’t understand why.

Well, I have a lot of time on my hands.  So today I did some research.  Here are 30 published research articles about ionized water.  These all come from pubmed.com.  That is not the only place to find research articles but it is well respected, it’s what we were taught to use in PT school.  Also, there is a lot more research out there, you just have to know how to find it…..

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