Utah Rehab Update – The Lokomat

I wanted to send out a quick update on the rehab I’ve been doing here in Utah. I’ve had a great time here so far, meeting the inspirational founder of this facility and a fantastic group of physical therapists who are some of the most knowledgable and experienced professionals in the field of Spinal Cord Injury Rehab. It’s also been great to meet some other SCI patients, all at various stages of recovery and some even on their feet, walking independently.

I always said that I didn’t care if I never met anyone else with my level of injury who had recovered, because I would still push myself endlessly to reach my goal, but I must admit that it’s relieving, motivating and inspiring to meet other people who broke the same vertebrae as me and are back on their feet. That said, one of the things I’ve learned here is that no two SCI patients are the same. Even though I’ve met a number of people here with the “same” injury as me, there are many unexplained phenomena in terms of each person’s respective challenges and their prospective recoveries.

Ok so let’s get right to the fun stuff. I’ve been able to do some new exercises and use state of the art equipment that I had not previously tried which has been pretty fun.

You ever wonder what one $350,000 piece of equipment looks like??? Well let me introduce you to the Lokomat:

This is a revolutionary machine for SCI rehab as it’s adjusted to the exact length and size of my legs not to mention that everything – from the amount of weight I’m bearing through my legs to sensing how much effort and movement I’m giving to the walking – is precisely measured and captured in a computer. Nearly everything can be adjusted and tweaked to suit the particular person and well, it’s just pretty damn cool. Yes I do look a bit like Robocop walking but it feels amazing to stand upright and have such a natural stepping feeling for the first time since my accident.

One more video, just to show you a different perspective. Here you can see two important things: 1) the screen in front of me which is basically a virtual reality depiction of me walking and my movement is reflected in the digital game 2) the mirror below the screen, showing my legs walking:

There are only a handful of these Lokomats throughout the US so I’m very fortunate to have access to this one while I’m here in Utah. Stay tuned for another update soon…

Video Update – Parallel Bars Walking

I’ve been using the parallel bars for quite some time now and just a few days ago I had a relatively small but significant breakthrough that I wanted to share. The following video (from March 1st) shows a great development in my walking exercises and reminds me that progress does occur, even when it doesn’t feel like it. As you watch, please keep the following things in mind:

  • Don’t be confused and think this is the big thing: I’m not walking on my own….YET. It’s hard to see but the therapist is holding my core steady with the strap around my waist and she’s also using her leg to lock out my plant knee because I can’t do that yet. That said, it’s still pretty cool.
  • I recently started doing this exercise without shoes because I can slide my feet with socks. Maybe it’s cheating a bit but it’s helped me initiate the movement from my hips and actually pull my leg through with more strength.
  • Previously, the therapist always had to move my legs for me but this was the first time I was able to shift, move and slide my legs forward on my own.
  • Yes I’m rocking a pink shirt. Real men wear pink. End of story.