Saturday, February 28, 2009

The Purpose of the Ride

One of the outcomes of stroke is that various systems in the brain have been damaged. For some people, like me, the biggest area of damage is in the motor planning area of the brain which has affected my left side motor movement and proprioceptive balance. For some it is primarily cognitive, for some it is vision, for some it is motor language and for some it is a combination. The type of sytem damage that occurs is all dependent upon where the brain damage has occurred. One of the clearest concepts in the rehab process is that to create repair to these systems requires them to be stressed and challenged in order for the brain and the body to adapt and for re-wiring too occur.

Initially I lost even my awareness I had a left side of my body. I remeber early days in the hospital telling my sister that I had lost my soup at lunch time. No that's not like losing your cookies, I thought someone had taken it. In actuality it had just disappeared from my vision on the left side. Turning my head a little and voila it wasn't gone afterall. My peripheral vision is now back in acceptible norms.

From a walking perspective, I have spent many hours leaning to my left trying to re-orient my body to know where vertical was. That required leaning against a wall and having a pole beside me for support so I could challenge that balance system safely.

In order to safely challenge some of my motor planning and movement, there is some equipment that would help myself and others to safely push back those barriers to improvement. By attempting this bike ride I am asking for your support to raise money in order to acquire the equipment to help people help themselves. This is specialized exercise equipment that is either adapted or has additional safety features. I spent lots of time on a regular treadmill, however, I also ended up on the exercise room floor a couple of times when I tripped. You see being able to use only one hand, changing settings becomes challenging because you have to let go with your only support in order to do that. One of the pieces of equipment I want the centre to have is a treadmill with a safety sling and overhead frame. With that you can practice getting faster with the safety of knowing you won't crash off the back of the treadmill.

The exercise bike was great for me to get my left hamstring activated and starting to work. However, because of my poor balance, it had to be a seated or recumbent bike. Right after I was discharged fron the hospital I had no ability to lift my foot into the air. Hence it was constantly falling off the bike pedals. What I discovered was using my cycling shoes and clipless pedals I taught my left leg how to cycle again by having my good leg pull it though the cycle with the clips. The challenge is to find a way to have universal size bike shoes. Pyro plates, a product out of the US will allow us to modify recumbent exercise bikes for various size running shoes that can strap on a rigid plate with embedded cycling cleat. The result will be mulit-size cycling shoes that will match each individual running shoe. Having this equipment will enable people to challenge themselves towards improvement. It is hard work but it can be done.

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