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31
Jan

Stepmill

I’m a physical therapist and I should know this but I have no idea. It must have been invented in the last 2 years. I’ve kinda been out of commission the last 2 years. I got a form from the gym I just joined and it says they have stepmills. What the hell’s a stepmill?

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30
Jan

France

As soon as I can afford it, I’m moving to France.  Peace out, America.

29
Jan

RSD

RSD stands for Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy.  It’s also known as CRPS – Complex Regional Pain Syndrome.  But I don’t think CRPS is really used anymore.  This happens when the nerves that control pain sensation act all crazy and cause a lot of pain.  So, you don’t have to move much at all and not much has to touch it and your arm hurts like hell.  I’ve only seen this happen in the arm, I would imagine it can happen in the leg too.  I just read this and it talked about Shoulder-Hand Syndrome after a stroke.  I had never heard that term.  It’s the same thing as RSD, but it’s coming from your brain, I guess that’s the difference.  In RSD, the actual nerves in your arm are messed up.  As a physical therapist, I considered it a good thing when someone’s arm would start to hurt after a stroke.  That meant recovery to me.  You’d rather have pain than no sensation at all.

24
Jan

PFS

This is another orthopedic post.  When your knee hurts and the doctor and physical therapist don’t really know why, you’ll probably be diagnosed as having patellofemoral syndrome(PFS).  PFS happens when your kneecap isn’t tracking properly.  This means that every time you contract the thigh muscle, your kneecap doesn’t follow the correct path and bangs into the thigh bone, and causes pain.  It’s kinda like the go to diagnosis for the knee.  If you’re over 50, the doctor will most likely say “oh that’s your arthritis acting up.”  Maybe these things are wrong with you, I have no idea.  I’m starting to think doctors and therapists don’t really know anything.  Well that’s not fair, I guess they(we) know some stuff or else I wouldn’t be able to give helpful information on this blog.  If you truly do have patellofemoral syndrome, treat it by strengthening a group of muscles called the hip abductors.  I mean, strengthen everything but really focus on the hip abductors.  These are the muscles on the outside of your thigh.  The muscles on the inside of your thigh are called the hip adductors.  Here’s how they taught us to remember that in school….. A baby is ABducted, taken away from its family.  So, the muscles on the outside of the thigh move your leg AWAY from the body, they abduct it.  Most people wouldn’t say this, they would say the opposite – that you need to stretch out this group of muscles, not make them stronger.  But I’m not most people.  Here’s some exercises. Here’s more. And here, I love hip hikes.

23
Jan

Gym

I just joined a gym.  Hey stroke survivors: insurances will probably pay for all or part of a gym membership.  They might pay for this anyway, even if you didn’t have a stroke, as a preventative thing.  Insurances are finally understanding that getting you healthy BEFORE you get sick is the way to go.  Hell of a lot cheaper that way.  In the gym I joined, the female locker rooms are UPSTAIRS with no elevators.  Grrrrrrr!!  Oh well, that’s good for me, I’ll be challenged to climb a flight of stairs every time I have to pee.  Anyway, the treadmills in this gym have a DECLINE.  So you can walk downhill on a treadmill.  That’s pretty freakin’ cool.  I have never seen that before.  Physical therapists would have a field day with that.

21
Jan

Writing

You know that phrase “he wears his heart on his sleeve?”  Well, I think I wear my heart on my blog.  It’s pretty easy to tell what kind of mood I’m in by what I write.  If I’m annoyed at something, I write about it.  If I’m angry, I write.  If I’m in a good mood, I write.  I always feel better after I write.  Writing has been extremely therapeutic for me.  They used to make us journal in PT school and I absolutely hated it.  I guess because it was forced and I was just writing stuff because I had to.  Now, I’m writing because I want to and I think it’s helping people.  I also use my blog to vent sometimes.  🙂  If you’re down, write.  Get it out, get it on paper.  Then it won’t be in your head anymore.  It’ll help, I promise.

20
Jan

Suffering

I’ve gotten a lot of positive feedback on my blog, thank you to everyone who has said something.  I think the reason it’s good is because I’m going through hell.  Out of great suffering comes really good writing, right?  Is that a quote?  Well it is now I just wrote it.  Once I’m better and happy again this blog will probably be really boring.  So enjoy it for now I guess.  🙂

20
Jan

Sleep Study

It’s 3:30 am and I’m right now in a hospital having a sleep study. Obviously I’m not asleep. I highly doubt they’re gonna have enough data. Oh well, screw it. I’m certainly not doing this again.

19
Jan

The Truth Will Set You Free

The last 2 nights I watched the Oprah interview where Lance Armstrong admitted that he was using steroids all those years and lying about it.  Not only lying about it, but suing people who told the truth.  What the hell?  Well, I’m no fan of Oprah but at the end of last night’s interview she said “the truth will set you free.”  She’s right, it will.  Don’t tell lies and pretend to be something you’re not in front of others, it will come back to bite you in the ass.

19
Jan

Therapy

After the stroke, a lot of people told me I need to go to therapy, I need to talk about this.  So I did.  But it didn’t help.  In that therapy, I was talking about what I thought I should talk about, not what I needed to talk about.  Before the stroke, I was already dealing with a lot of crappy stuff, from a dysfunctional family to a dysfunctional relationship.  Then I got massively ill and was left disabled.  My point in writing about this is not to make anyone feel bad for me, that would never be my intention.  There are lots of people who have been through much worse than I have.  Maybe someone else is going through something similar to me, it’s possible.  I have an amazing therapist now and I’m figuring out everything I need to figure out.  I’m figuring out how to be peaceful and happy.

18
Jan

Tibialis Anterior (shin muscle)

I did a post about foot drop.  The reason this happens is because your tibialis anterior muscle weakens and your calf muscles get spastic and shorten.  So, therapists will often put you in an AFO(ankle foot orthotic).  The tibialis anterior is the muscle on the front of your lower leg and is responsible for lifting the foot.  This lifting doesn’t happen if the calf muscles are really spastic or the TA is really weak.  Keep the ankle/foot as flexible as possible and just because your calf muscles are being weird and are spastic doesn’t mean you shouldn’t exercise them.  Do this frequently, and slowlyThen this site shows good exercises.  And this site.

17
Jan

The Neck

I don’t know what to write about so I’m going to write about the neck, the cervical spine.  The neck can be a source of a lot of pain.  Bad positioning of your neck can cause a lot of headaches.  When someone’s artery tears and leads to a stroke, those arteries are in the neck.  The neck is precious and delicate.  Take care of it.  The best way to take care of the neck is to have good posture.  Here, look at this.  The first picture shows posture that would be written as FHRS, forward head, rounded shoulders.  Don’t do that.  Don’t slouch.  When you slouch it causes your neck to jut forward, causing your head to jut forward.  Bring your shoulders back, bring your head back.  I spent a great deal of time in my practice teaching people to have proper posture.  GREAT book on neck pain.

14
Jan

DOMS

DOMS stands for delayed onset muscle soreness.  When I was on one of my clinicals for PT, I said the phrase “the DOMS effect” and got really made fun of for that.  I don’t know where I learned that, I certainly didn’t make it up.  I probably learned it in college.  I went to college in the south, southerners are weird.  (Just kidding Alyson)  🙂  I actually love the south.  Whenever I can afford it, I’m moving somewhere below the Mason-Dixon line, or Europe, I might move to Europe.  Whenever something new is done with a muscle, you’re going to be sore.  After the stroke, I was sore a lot the next day.  Sometimes the soreness lasted like a week.  That’s OK.  My muscles had to relearn a whole lot of stuff and it made me sore a lot.  Good thing I knew what it was because I would imagine that soreness could be quite frightening.  Even stretching can cause DOMS.  Don’t think that you have to do some kind of major workout to be sore.

13
Jan

Sitting Up

I remember waking up in the hospital with a bald head.  That was quite an experience.  I had no idea what happened.  I knew I must have had brain surgery because my head was bald but I had no idea why.  There were all these people surrounding me asking me to do strange things like touch my nose then touch their finger, I had no clue what was happening.  On the second or third day I was awake, my ICU nurse wanted me to sit in a chair.  This is a standard thing, after a surgery you make the patient get used to being upright again by sitting them in a chair.  I didn’t want to do this, it hurt so bad.  I also didn’t want anyone telling me what to do.  I’m a physical therapist, I thought I knew everything I had to do.  Well, turns out I knew very, very little.  Here’s a tip, if someone you love has something awful and traumatic happen to them, just be there and be a loved one, don’t put your 2 cents in – that will infuriate the patient.  Anyway, we were taught some techniques on how to transfer a patient from the lying position to a seated position.  I don’t know how to explain this.  You can watch it here.

11
Jan

Sleep Doctor

I saw a sleep doctor the other day because I’ve been having trouble sleeping.  It’s been weird, for the first 6 months after the stroke I slept excessively.  Then, I had problems with insomnia.  Now, I switch between sleeping excessively and insomnia.  But I’m always tired during the day no matter what.  So I saw a sleep doctor.  She had a statistic on the wall that 70% of stroke survivors have a sleep disorder, particularly sleep apnea.  So she ordered a sleep study.  She said she never would have done this if I didn’t have an unexplained stroke at a young age.  I want the sleep study so I’ll do it but I don’t agree with some other things she told me.  Here is what she said to do.  To tell someone who has a brain injury less than 2 years old to not go to bed until midnight, sleep for 7 hours, and not take naps is incredibly awful advice.  I might be almost 2 years out from the event but I am still very much healing and recovering and I need a lot of sleep.  I had a major, major brain event and it will take me years to recover fully, if I do, and in order to do this I need to sleep A LOT.  I’m not going to do these things.  Oh well, at least she didn’t prescribe me a sleeping pill.  She told me to make a bunch of behavioral changes, I guess that’s a step in the right direction for a Western doctor.