Aug 8, 2016

Neuroplasticity and Stroke Survivors: Reversing My Limbs? It's Starting to Work for Me!

I don't know what to call it. I just simply don't. A kind of neuroplasticity? Let me tell you what I came up with last week that's helping me walk better and longer.

I was having one of those days that I have every once in a while, but I was having it, whatever it was. I had a stroke in 2009 and my right side was affected. My right hand is useless, just there for the sake of it, but I walk with a quad cane that gets me where I want to go, though often relying on the wheelchair. (There are some facts right there that will signal "one of those days").

Anyway, I was daydreaming. Wouldn't it be wonderful, I thought, if my walking were improved by thinking the left leg had the problem instead of the right?

And so it was that last week I pretended my right leg was fine and my left leg had the problem. And I walked down to the laundry room--and back. And I walked up the hill that enters the parking lot. And I walked to the car. And I walked into the blood center where I am tested once a week--and back. And I walked into Giant Eagle for their salad bar and ate their fresh greens right there--and back. That was a new experience for me.

My friend stopped asking me if I was all right because, she told me later, my face was beaming. I was walking with the confidence of a human who has something wrong with her left leg. It wasn't major, just something.

Some other things happened, too. I lost 19 pounds with the help of My Fitness Pal which I downloaded to the phone so wherever I am, I can enter the foods right on my phone. It's a fact: lighter is better. I have a better state of mind, now that everything else worked out. Maybe that helped. But I have to go back to my limb reversal trick, thinking the left foot was bad instead of the right.

So I did some research. Could just thinking it make it so? Maybe. I'll tell you what I found.

Dr. Mark Hallett, Chief of the Human Motor Control Section, National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, National Institutes of Health, in a recent publication, wrote, "Body parts can compete for representation in the brain and use of a body part can enhance its representation. A body part is represented in various areas of the brain, both motor and sensory. The sensory representations are those that are active when sensory stimulation of that body part occurs. The motor representations are those whose activity produces movement of that body part."

Doctors can sometimes be fuzzy, speaking from personal experience. What the good doctor is saying is that body parts which have movement should be maximized to the nth degree and compete to the fullest. Ergo, my limb reversal makes sense.

Forward to today. I'm still doing it, thinking my left leg is worse than my right. But all strokes are different. Don't try this method unless you have a hands-on person the first 2 or 3 days. After that, maybe you'll build up confidence like I did. [Boolya!]

I have it down now. I bike 45 minutes on the stationary bike 4 times a week, sweat a lot, and move more without the wheelchair. If I keep this up.... No. I don't want to make any predictions.

7 comments:

Anonymous said...

Wow, reading this is like this is me! I hate it,,but mine is the left side and I was left handed,so to be left again would be so great! Thank you for your blog,it was like someone was writing how I feel.great for you,now onward and upward!thanks.

Joyce Hoffman said...

Thanks, Anonymous! I write these posts because I want to help stroke survivors. You made my day!

Beckey said...

Oh my goodness. I love what you said. My whole left side is my "bad"side after a stroke in 2010. It's a continuous struggle because of the neuropathy and walking, trying to stay balanced. Thank you and I really hope to read more from you. It's encouraging about your weight loss and exercise.

John Short said...

I couldnt put weight on my left leg because of spasticity(toe curling) in my big toe, or so I thought. After I repeatedly put more weight on it for many months the spasticity actually disappeared and I can now easily put weight on my left leg. Very surprising and kind of paradoxical

Joyce Hoffman said...

Beckey, that's why I write--to keep stroke survivors, their families and friends, and health care providers that information which comes directly from a stroke survivor! Doctors and nurses don't know everything even though some think they do!

Joyce Hoffman said...

John, paradoxical indeed!

Houston Huffard said...

12 years stroke (hemiplegia) survivor.
I had the greatest shock of my life when i had a cardiac arrest 12 years ago and slumped into comma. I was in comma for a year and three months before i was able to open my eyes. I stuttered with speech and and i noticed i could not move the full right side of my body my hands and legs this was when the doctor told me i had stroke (hemiplegia). I was bedridden and kept in a wheel chair when i need to move for 10 years more and it became worse because i started having memory failure i hardly remember anything. The condition was debilitating and even my neurologist could not help me with his several therapy. My wife came in one day with a medicine she got from a herbal doctor she wanted me to start taking that i will be okay, i was reluctant because i had given up already and was waiting for my death day. she talked me into taking it telling me how much she love and cares about me and how she and the kids are gonna miss me. I took the medicine for 3 months as recommended and my condition improved i was able to walk and move those parts affected by the stroke and today i have fully recovered after 12 years of horror. Do not die because of ignorance you too can be well again. just contact him on josephalberteo@gmail.com for more information on about it and how to get his medicine. thanks for allowing me share my story.