The most common question asked after a person survives a neurological illness or trauma is "HOW LONG DOES IT TAKE TO WALK AGAIN?"
GET MOVING! Specifically "Moving With HOPE"!
The man pictured above had a severe neck injury in 2011. He had emergency surgery to save his life. After the surgery, he was sent to a skilled nursing facility (SNF) and received 3 weeks of PT and OT. After three weeks he and his family were told he would never be able to stand again and he would need 24/7 care for the remainder of his life. This was devastating, as he was only 52 years old at the time. His family learned about our program and he began coming to us 5 days a week for 5 hours a day. After evaluation, we developed a plan of care to help him achieve the goal of returning to his home in Ansonia, CT with minimal assistance. After 6 months, he was discharged from the SNF and went home under the Money Follows The Person Program. Upon leaving the SNF, he was able to walk with a one person assist for several yards and could use a recumbent bike for up to 1 hour without undo fatigue. Today, he lives with in a beautiful apartment complex and only needs 60 hours a week of staff to assist with ADL's. He toilets and transfers independently, eats independently and still enjoys coming to our program 4 to 5 days a week to maintain his health and wellness.
We have helped dozens of people like this man. Let us help you or your loved one achieve greater health, wellness and independence using our affordable recovery solution!
On a more nerdy level, the goal of being able to walk again after a stroke or other neurological condition is not realistic for every client. It depends on many variables. These include severity, motor recovery, cognition and medical history. However, for those that are working towards the goal of walking again, you may want to ask: are you doing enough? How much is enough? Does it matter how often you walk or for how long? Should you be doing other exercises besides walking to maximize improvement and obtain an optimal recovery?
WHAT THE RESEARCH SAYS
There is now research that begins to support the answers to all those questions. To improve walking, you must be practicing the components of walking. This can either be on a treadmill, with body weight support, assistance from therapists or caregivers or aides. Large amounts of repetitions are critical to enhancing plastic changes in neural circuits. Repeated task-specific practice during motor skill acquisition increases dendritic growth, synaptic strength, number and neuronal activity in the brain or spinal circuits, resulting in long-lasting alterations (improvements) to motor performance. Evidence shows that there needs to be at least 1000 to 2000 steps or components of walking per session to produce significant changes or improvements in your walking. For most, this number of components takes approximately 3 hours! Most therapy sessions are 40 minutes or less. Also, most therapy sessions are one on one (Medicare rules) and to safely assist a partially paralyzed person toward the goal of better transfers and walking usually requires 2 to 3 people.
Research also tells us that there is an equally vital need to work on the core and the vestibular system. The core is made up of your abdominal muscles, several of your deep back muscles, hip muscles, and groin muscles. These muscles stabilize the pelvis as you swing your leg away from your body during walking. At Moving With Hope, we use very sophisticated equipment to develop the core and vestibular system. The primary piece of equipment is Red Cord. Moving With Hope has the only two such suspension systems in CT.
WORKING THE VESTIBULAR SYSTEM
The vestibular system is that system that integrates all the information being picked up from your eyes, ears, touch, pressure, and speed of your body. We use various unstable surfaces, mats, hurdles, cones, as well as multiple types of swings, gliders, or bolsters. This maximizes the stimulation to your lower brain stems Pons and Thalamus, and creates new maps for motor movement that supplement the need for walking repetition and significantly improves outcomes for our clients.
ELEVATING THE HEART RATE
Walk with a heart rate that is 85% of maximum to see change. Another target is taking 80 steps per minute, or about 2mph. We accomplish this at our clinic by using body-weight supported treadmill training. This increased neural activity drives the muscular and cardiovascular systems. High-intensity exercise may increase synaptic connectivity strength. This has been seen in both animal and human studies where short bursts of high-intensity stimulation to the nervous system results in rapid and sustained increases in synaptic efficacy. During high-intensity exercise, endogenous neuromodulators facilitate performance in the spinal and supra-spinal circuits. So, training the body to walk at higher speeds leads to more significant improvements.
Results are the same whether the walking has been on a treadmill or over the ground. However, our bodyweight support treadmill offers the ability to walk safely reducing the risk of falls. It also ensures that you are working hard enough to achieve the 85% of you predicted heart rate max to provide the neuromuscular adaptations. It is much easier to slow down and reduce your effort levels when walking over the ground. However, the treadmill keeps going at a set speed, so you have to keep working hard.
Let us help you or your loved one achieve greater health, wellness and independence using our affordable recovery solution! We are just a stones throw away from anywhere in CT and because we are the only CT facility to offer this amazing service, anyone on Medicaid gets FREE non-medical transport to our clinic! We hope to hear from you soon.