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Archive for January, 2010

First – Bob is home. He got back from Nigeria in mid-Dec, about 2 weeks earlier than anticipated. It is so good to have him back!

Okay – to the meat and point of this post.

I have had to return to PT recently due to shoulder pain (on the affected side) and knee pain (unaffected side).

Both are directly and indirectly (respectively) related to the stroke. Subluxation (slight out of socket) of my affected shoulder is due to weak muscles and has just recently decided to rear its ugly head. The knee pain on the unaffected side is due to overcompensation of the affected side. No one ever talks about this possibility. I should have known and have tried to strengthen the affected leg but it was all just too much for the unaffected leg to take on.

I had wanted to ask the Physical Therapist why my affected leg doesn’t have muscle memory. Well, duh. I’m glad that I thought it through rather than actually have the chance to ask the therapist.

“Muscle memory” is a misnomer – it really doesn’t have much to do with the muscle itself. The brain cells that used to control it are dead and eaten by now. The brand new brain cells that now control the affected side never used to do this – how can they have a ‘memory’ of something they never used to do? Of course they can’t. Stroke PT exercises have to be kept up for a lot longer than with usual injury-related PT exercises.

Frankly, this needs to be explicitly explained.

The other thing I noticed is that I can’t work on physical and mental stuff all at the same time. It is simply too much and overwhelming. Again – duh. The brain is but one organ. You can’t fix everything all at once. I also realized that because it is the brain – this creates a unique challenge. When you have a pain in your foot, how do you know that there is pain? The brain tells you! I am going out on a limb here to say that it is practically impossible for the brain to recognize its own ‘pain’ and to fix itself. I can acknowledge and recognize that I have a physical or mental issue from the stroke, but I can’t immediately fix it. It takes time, sometimes more time than we want, to fix the brain. It is doable, no mistake about that. It just takes time.

That brings me to my Netflix movie review – The Brain Fitness Program.

It was a documentary from PBS and totally worth the viewing. It supported and added to my knowledge of how malleable and flexible the brain is and how we must keep ourselves challenged and healthy throughout our lives. One example is how I helped to recover my affected arm. I switched my office around so that my affected (and nondominant) hand controlled the mouse. While frustrating at first – it really helped it recover by leaps and bounds. It forced an area of the brain that had a different job to get a new gig and to grow substantially (as supported by the neuroscientists on this documentary).

I really can’t say enough good things about this movie – really cool bonus stuff too – Alzheimers info, pieces and parts info, how to keep your brain healthy info, etc.

Grab some walnuts (good brain food!) and enjoy the movie!

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