Category Archives: Physical Aspect

Dance to Your Own Beat

This post may sound strange at first, but I am being completely serious. I suggest dancing. Dance all you can, whenever you can/ want.

I suggest this because as you are dancing you work both sides of your brain. You work both sides of your brain because you cannot dance properly unless you move both sides of your body. This movement helps your brain figure out the coordination necessary to move correctly. At first you will be terrible, no doubt about that I was, but in time you be dancing like MJ.

The improved coordination that is obtained can help you with everyday activities. For example, you will not have to worry about stepping over someone who is lying on the ground. Before you may be scared that you might lose your balance and fall, but after you dance a little bit you will find yourself able to step over the person with ease and comfort!

I got the idea for this post from my friend Amy. She, like us has a brain injury; is a zumba instructor at my gym. She told me that she always like to dance for the very reason I have said above. She told me she believed it helped her get her coordination back.

You use both hemispheres of your brain to dance. You need both them to move both your arms, hands, feet and legs. It is a total body workout, I should say total mind workout ūüėČ

Learning How to Run-Ankle Support

I know that this was an extremely important aspect of my recovery. Learning how to run with some type of grace again. I was a division one caliber athlete before my accident (baseball) so I practiced running all the time at an attempt to get back to where I was before the accident.

This was one of the hardest things to conquer. Not only was form trouble some (which I will write another post about), but it was the weakness in my ankle that truly gave me a hard time.

Immediately as I took off running I could feel my ankle roll over and tweak itself and I would continue running but could not fully exert myself due to the fact my ankle was killing me.

This in return would really hurt my form because I would favor the ankle that I had just rolled over (my “good” ankle) instead of concentrating on the form of my leg that had left side neglect.

I saw only one way to fix this, I needed some sort of external support. But i tried ankle braces that and give to it and they were not strong enough to hold my ankle in place. They, still, allowed my ankle to roll causing me pain and affecting my form as I continued to run.

I needed something stronger! I went to the closest athletic store and found a heavy duty brace. I looked at this brace and said to myself this will hold my ankle in place, there is no way my ankle is going any where.

This brace came up to mid calf with Velcro straps and had metal bars for support running down each side of the leg. Now, I could run without causing my self injury. This allowed my ankle to get stronger (because I knew that I had to be patient and time would get it stronger).

Ya, it looked¬†unnecessary¬†but I had a brain injury. This is one of the things I must deal with and that’s being different. I didn’t care if I looked like I was going over board to try and support my ankle while running or if people stared at me as I jogged by. What mattered was it was helping and I could now concentrate on my form.

Feelings of Extremes (extreme hot/ extreme cold)

I have this problem. Often, my left hand is¬†absolutely¬†freezing. It is truly amazing how it is almost like it has a mind of its own. I’ll be at the gym sweating from my workout and I can’t touch any one because my left hand is freezing and they will freak out by how cold my hand is.

It is my left hand because I injured my right side of the brain and the right side of the brain controls the left side of the body. It gets so cold that I can barely move my fingers. As I am typing to you, I am struggling making my fingers move because my hand is cold.

This has something to do with my injury but mostly the weather. My hand gets freezing cold when it is freezing cold out. A lot better than when it used to get freezing cold for no reason. Don’t get me wrong, it still gets colder than my right at times. Nothing like it used too.

It has something to do with the nerves. When you have a brain injury nerves are damaged that make the connections in your body. That is why when you concentrate on attempting to get those nerves back (occupational therapy or physical therapy) there is a burning sensation.

When I used to have occupational rehab immediately after my accident the therapist would put little, tiny Christmas bulbs in a hard thick putty. She would make me pick out each one, about 15 bulbs. Think about how long this took considering I had no control of my left arm.

Mid-way through the exercise, my arm would be on fire (not literally). The therapist told me that it was the nerves establishing a new connection. So I kept on doing my best to use my left hand for things no matter how hard or how much it “burned”.

I believe after all my hard work and forcing myself to use my left hand for things, my arm has healed. It is not 100% but I can use it for everything. I can catch a ball, I can punch, I can even do one handed push ups with it. I just can do it better with my right hand (faster for example).

I also believe that after all my hard work the nerves were able to establish those connections, thus helping with the extreme feelings of cold that I used to be stuck with constantly. The time that I can’t move my hand because it’s too cold is when it is in fact too cold out haha.

This will take time and a lot of hard work to achieve so some things that I used to do during my recovery was sit on your hand, stick your had in between your legs, blow hot air through your fist. Do what you must to keep it warm, just remember to be patient…it will come.

Breaking Bad Habits

We all develop bad habits in our rehab phase to learn how to make the correct movements. For example to learn how to walk again, I had to pick up my knee when I walked. I did this in order for my brain to know that I had to pick up my leg when I walked.

I remember in rehab, my physical therapist would say something to the likes of “heel, toe, knee.” These were all the steps that I needed to do to learn how to walk again. By repeating this in my head, I could not forget the correct steps on how to walk.

Once I learned how to walk correctly (on my own, without a cain) I still was lifting my knee when I was walking. I would lift it in an exaggerated motion, just like I had in rehab to remind me to lift my leg off the ground and swing it forward.

So, it would look like I was doing high knees with one of my legs and not the other. The only way I was able to stop this was by forcing myself to not lift my knee up high. I had to consciously think about my knee and what it was doing, where it was in space.

I would consciously tell my self to keep it straight at an attempt to reverse the affects that rehab had left. When I would practice walking with my mom or dad, I would constantly think about what my leg was doing.

The minute my concentration would run off to something else I would catch myself lifting my knee up way to much. In time though I was able to force my knee down. I began to walk normal again. I noticed something else in my walking though.

When I first started to re-learn how to walk I had developed a habit of kicking my left leg out to the left. So, picture my body going straight as my left leg was going kicking out to the left but would loop around to land in front of me. It made me walk with an awkward limp.

I had to get rid of this, the only way to get rid of this was to concentrate like I had before with my knee. I had to consciously tell my self, watch my left leg. Make sure it goes in a straight land and lands in front of me. So, I tried to land my left foot right in front of me and parallel to my right.

In time I was able to walk in a straight line, I no longer looked like I wobbled.  I must confess though, there are times that I am fatigued or tired and I begin to wobble again. Whenever I loose focus or I personally feel I do not have the power to concentrate, my old habits resurface mildly.

Drinking Liquids

I know for me one of the hardest things to do is drinking liquids, especially clear liquids. Liquids of all kinds give me trouble. I learned how to swallow, while I was in rehab, but I still choke dramatically when ever I try to drink fast.

While I was in rehab the speech pathologist taught me how to swallow again. She taught me how to drink using a straw at first. I then graduated to a can, bottle or I drank out of a cup after I had left rehab.

There is a certain way to insure that you will not choke. That way is that you need to angle your head down and swallow. You can’t tip your head up because this opens up the air ways and the liquid will go down, causing you to choke.

You must keep your head angled down because this closes your airways, because of this you are no longer allowed to drink fast. Well you could but I do not encourage this. If you want to not choke then take little sips of your water and keep your head angled down.

When you drink fast you must angle your head up so make the liquids come out of the bottle/ can. Because your head is angled up your airways are now open. You will almost always choke when you try to drink fast, unless of course you use a straw.

I try to drink fast now but I still have a hard time with it. A large gulping sound comes from my throat. It comes directly out of where my¬†tracheotomy¬†was, right where the scar is now. It is so loud that I’ll be in the kitchen drinking a Gatorade and my parents in the living room complain about the sound.

I believe a lot of my choking comes a lot from having a tracheotomy. That and my left side of my throat is a lot weaker than my right.  I have developed a bad habit to prevent choking so I could drink faster.

The bad habit I have developed is every time I drink out of a can, bottle or even a cup I practically French kiss the bottle. I do this, subconsciously, to slow the flow of liquids. My friends make fun of me all the time.

I stick my tongue to the bottle opening or the end of the glass/ cup/ can/ bottle, I tilt my head back slightly and this slows the liquids from shooting straight down the back of my throat. Now, I am slowly stopping this habit.

I must consciously tell my self to not do it. I curl my tongue to touch the top of my tongue with the tip of my tongue, then I bring the beverage to my lips. I do it in this order to remind myself that this is the correct way to drink a beverage.

I have the hardest time drinking water. Nearly everytime I take a sip of water I choke. It must have something to do with it being a clear liquid. I am not sure, but I still struggle drinking this beverage.

When You Feel Lazy or Tired Remember One Thing!!!

DO YOU WANT YOUR LIFE TO SUCK FOR A SHORT PERIOD OF TIME OR DO YOU WANT IT TO SUCK FOR THE REST OF YOUR LIFE!!! JUST SUCK IT UP AND DO YOUR REHAB! IT PAYS OFF IN THE END!!!

If you want to get your life back together, want things to be like they were as quick as possible. You must do your rehab. No matter how much you do not want to, you just have to do it.

Sitting back and wishing that things would go back to they way it used to be aren’t going to get them there. You have to do the hard work to get them there. You must relearn how to do things and do them over and over again so that your brain can establish new connections.

I know its tedious, but think of it as a second chance. You are alive and thats something you should be happy about. Ya, you need to do somethings to get your life back on track but would you rather be dead?

You may think that it would be better to be dead than to go through what you are going through ( God, I know I did) but its just not true. God or whoever put you through this because you are strong enough to handle it!

So, suck it up and do the rehab, because in the end…IT WILL BE WORTH IT!!!