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30
Apr

Triceps

I was just at the gym and walked past a group of guys and heard “Let’s do tris(pronounced ‘tries’) next.”  Meatheads.

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30
Apr

Nerve Glides

I debated writing this post but I decided to do it anyway.  So I’ll just say DO AT YOUR OWN RISK.  Nothing that a physical therapist does is life threatening or anything but of everything I would have patients do, this could cause the most potential harm.  When you stretch something, say your arm, and you feel your fingers start to tingle, stop.   That means you’re stretching a nerve and you don’t want to stretch nerves.  But, nerves can shorten just like muscles can shorten.  Also, you can stretch out nerves just like you can stretch out muscles.  But you have to be careful and do it differently.  Enter nerve glides.  Nerve glides are a way to mobilize the nerve and stretch it out without causing harm.  Here’s a way to tell if your leg/butt pain(sciatica) is from a tight nerve.  Bend over at the waist, I bet it hurts.  Now, bend over at the waist with the painful leg bent at the knee.  If doing this takes away the pain it’s probably a tight nerve causing the pain.  See, when the knee is bent those nerves are on slack so they can’t cause pain.  So what do you do about this?  Nerve glides.  In the case of the sciatic nerve acting up, here’s what you do laying downHere’s what you do sitting up.  As soon as you feel that tingly feeling or pain, go the other direction.  Here’s a glide for the nerve in your arm that’s on the side of your pinky finger(this is the nerve that hurts when you hit your funny bone).  Here’s a glide for the nerve on the thumb side of the arm.

29
Apr

Hamstrings

I did a post about how to strengthen every major muscle group in the legs except the hamstrings.  I wrote about how to properly stretch the hamstrings, but not one about how to make them stronger.  The muscles that are called the hamstrings, located on the back of the thigh, are actually 3 muscles.  That’s not really important though.  The main thing that the hamstrings do is bend the knee and straighten out the legs at the hip-joint.  They’re also involved in rotating the hip inward sometimes, depending upon the position you put the leg in.  So what can happen to them after a stroke?  Well, they can get weak just like everything else.  Can they do anything really weird?  Probably.  Anyone have an experience with their hamstrings doing something really weird?  Here’s how to strengthen themAnd hereAnd hereDon’t forget to work them eccentrically!  Oh when you do all this stuff, keep your back straight.

27
Apr

Running

I can’t run.  I walk pretty well but when I speed up and try to break into a run my brain is like “uhh no you’re not doing that, sorry.”  This sucks because I used to like to go on long runs before the stroke.  Now it’s long walks.  That’s a good thing though because I couldn’t take my dog with me on my runs.  I can certainly take my strokey dog on my strokey walks.  When I try to run it looks pretty f’in funny.  It makes me crack up.  Although I laugh at myself all the time so that’s not saying much.  I wonder if I’ll ever be able to run again.

27
Apr

Sleep Mask

If you have issues sleeping, which I’ve learned if you had a stroke – you have issues with sleep, get a sleep mask.  It’s really helping me.  When I put that thing on my head my damaged brain knows to shut down.  My friend Mandy got me a sleep mask for Christmas and I love it!  Thanks Mandy.  It doesn’t work ALL the time, but it is certainly helping a lot.

sleepmask

26
Apr

Head Meat

Stephen Colbert just called the brain “head meat.”  Hahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahah.

26
Apr

Change

I just did something really impulsive and I kinda wish I didn’t but it’s OK.  What’s done is done.  That was the “old me.”  I used to be insanely impulsive and not think about things before I did them.  That’s a good way to ruin a lot of relationships.  But here’s the thing… When you’re working on yourself and trying to change something about yourself it’s going to be 2 steps forward and one step back.  I’ve taken a lot of steps forward recently so I was due for a step back.  Soon I’ll take two steps forward again.  Then I’ll probably take another step back and get depressed but oh well.  What’s gonna happen is gonna happen.  Just my awareness about this is huge.  Most people walk through life and have no idea what they could work on.  I certainly know.

24
Apr

Tango Music

I’ve read a lot about how listening to music helps recovery.  I was talking about this with my therapist and she told me that there has been a lot of research done on how listening to tango music while exercising helps all kinds of things in the brain.  This intrigued me, so I did some research on the internet and found this.  The video at the beginning of this article is pretty freakin’ cool.  I put the word ‘tango’ into the Pandora app on my iPhone and it created a whole tango station.  If you don’t know about Pandora, it’s awesome, get it, it’s free.  I will be listening to my tango station tomorrow on the treadmill.

23
Apr

PenAgain

This pen helps a ton if you have difficulty writing.  I keep one in my purse….

pen

Get it here.

20
Apr

New Life

I’m in the process of building a brand new life right now.  There are very few people from my “old life” (pre-stroke life) that I care about bringing into my new life.  Those people know who they are.  For the most part I want new people in my life.  I only want to be around people who are understanding, unfortunately most people are not.  I am recovering from a massive brain injury and even though it doesn’t look like it, I still have a ton of problems and I might have problems for the rest of my life.  I can have zero stress in my life right now.  Stress will inhibit my recovery greatly.  So no stress for me.  If you cause me to be stressed out, you’re out of my life.  That would suck for you, cause I’m really funny.  🙂  That sounds really conceited, but I don’t care.  This experience has pretty much made me not give a crap about most things.  It’s time for me to be selfish, and to help other people when and if I can.  Although I don’t think I am being selfish, doing things to make your life better – that’s not selfish.

17
Apr

Anatomy of the Brain

On my stats page I saw a search term that was used which was “basilar artery stroke.”  I realized I have never explained what artery of mine was messed up.  My stroke was caused by a blood clot(ischemic stroke) which got lodged in the basilar artery.  Offshoots of the basilar artery feed blood to the cerebellum, where I had my stroke.  This is called posterior, in the back of the brain.  The front of the brain is called anterior.  Then the basilar artery divides into something called the Circle of Willis.  The blood supply to the brain is very complex.  I could write for hours about the different parts of the brain and what they do.

17
Apr

Figure It Out

Something is happening.  Compared to 20-30 years ago, a lot more young people are having strokes.  Why?  What’s going on?  I know our diet generally sucks and being healthy isn’t at the forefront of most people’s minds but what the hell is going on?  All of the studies say “well maybe it’s because of better MRI imaging and the rates of obesity and diabetes are on the rise.”  Well guess what, not a single young stroke survivor I’ve met was obese, had diabetes, high cholesterol, anything like that.  And don’t get me started on diagnostic tests.  What’s going on stroke researchers?  FIGURE IT OUT.

16
Apr

Pay it Forward

I always stop in this coffee shop and get a big creamy stupid latte before I go to OT. I just did that and this guy was in there buying a gift certificate and he said “And put this pretty young lady’s drink on there.” And he bought my coffee. I tried to refuse and he said “Don’t worry about it, just do something nice for someone later today.” That kinda blew me away. Paying it forward really works. Do something nice for someone today.

15
Apr

Learning to Live With It

Another stroke survivor who is 13 years post-stroke asked me “Do you think you’ll ever get over what happened to you?”  I said “Have you?”  He said “No, I’ve learned to live with it.”  I said “Yes exactly, I’m learning how to live with this, but I don’t think I’ll ever get over it.”

14
Apr

Plantar Fasciitis

ORTHOPEDIC.  I’m having some pain on the bottom of my foot right now.  I self-diagnosed it as plantar fasciitis.  You shouldn’t do that, you shouldn’t diagnose yourself.  Well actually maybe you should, doctors don’t seem to know much.  Anyway, a stroke is enough to deal with, 3 strokes is more than enough.  Having a painful foot on top of the strokey walking is a bad combination.  I already walk all weird, I certainly don’t need a foot that causes pain every time I step down on it.  Oh well.  Here’s how I used to treat plantar fasciitis.  If you have PF(plantar fasciitis), you probably have really tight calf musclesSo stretch them out.  Also stretch out the arch of your foot.  I always told people to do the frozen water bottle stretch.  Actually, this guy’s entire YouTube series on PF is pretty good.  Although I’m not sure I like the part where he says to not wear shoes in the house.  If you’re having acute pain, you need to rest it and support it.  But not forever, once the pain dies down, you should do this.  First thing when you get up in the morning, before you get out of bed and put your foot down, do the towel stretch(first picture).  If what you’re doing makes your foot hurt more and keep hurting more for over 30 seconds, stop doing it.  It’s OK to have a little pain immediately after the activity or during it.  It’s probably OK if your foot hurts a little more later that night or the next day, but it might not beI don’t know, see what works for you.