I amazed the crowd at Sunday’s LeanOnWe Launch Party when I came onto the stage “walking” after 3 ½ years in a wheelchair. It was the first time they had seen me vertical since an out-of-control SUV plowed into my bicycle and left me a paraplegic. So how did I “walk”? Was that robotics? Was I wearing an eksoskeleton suit or some other high-tech device?
I’m proud to tell you that I used a combination of my upper body strength – and more importantly, my core – to keep me upright. With the help of leg braces to keep my legs properly positioned and a walker to help my balance, I concentrated on using my abdominal muscles to contract my hip flexors. In essence, when able-bodied people walk, their spinal cord does the “thinking.” Since mine was crushed in the accident, I rely on training my brain to consciously do multiple repetitive activities that address the muscles responsible for walking. As such, I am able to slowly move one foot and then the next, even though I have no feeling in my legs.
All of this is very difficult and takes quite a bit of stamina and training. You won’t see me "walking” down the street or “walking” into the LeanOnWe headquarters. But the more I’m able to practice it, the stronger I become and the better my body is able to function.
#caregiving #recovery #determination #care #in-home care