Brains Over Brawn

Although working smart not hard is always my goal when you have a disability, smart work morphs into a necessity. If your weak left side keeps you from carrying a box of items down a flight of steps, you better figure out a smart and safe way to get your stuff to the first floor.

I spend the majority of my day thinking about moving. Not just esoterically speaking, but in a functional way as well…

  • How will I get that heavy, glass bowl down from the top shelf?
  • How do I walk 50 feet to my car through an icy parking lot while pushing a cart with wheels?
  • How do I enjoy a desperately needed sip of coffee from my travel mug while driving with one hand on the highway, going 70 mph during a foggy, rainstorm?

You think long and hard about it, that’s how.

Because I spend so much time thinking about moving before moving, I’m always looking for ways to move as efficiently and effectively as possible. Usually once or twice a year I find something really helpful. This year’s what-the-fuck-why-didn’t-anyone-ever-tell-me-this-Jesus-Christ-this-information-would’ve-been-good-to-know-five-years-ago moment occurred when I stumbled across the YouTube Channel of Orlando Neuro Physical Therapy.

Dr. Tara Tobias, has educated me while demonstrating a variety of functional rehabilitation exercises I can do at home. If you are a stroke survivor, you need to subscribe to her channel immediately. But anyone that deals with neurologically based movement dysfunction can benefit from this information.

Watching her demo the exercises and seeing the equipment and props she uses in her clinic has been invaluable. However, if you learn best from reading rather than listening or have a diagnosis that affects your cognitive-linguistic, memory, or language comprehension skills, here are my tips if you check out her channel:

  • Subscribe to get updates.
  • Turn on the closed captions feature to read along if you’re a visual learner.
  • Take notes.
  • Add videos to the “watch later” queue, to stay organized.
  • Don’t start watching unless you have time to fall down this rehab rabbit hole.
  • Keep track of what you’ve already viewed.
  • Take screenshots to print out and refer to when you exercise on your own.

I’ve never met or received treatment from Dr. Tobias. I’ve simply been watching her videos, which have introduced me to different props and equipment to best perform the recommended exercises. Obviously, your doctor and physical therapist are the professionals you should be listening to. That being said, not all physical therapists are expert in neurologically based conditions like she is. Athletes who lose functionality due to injury and surgery have a very different rehabilitation process than stroke and brain injured patients or those born or diagnosed with a neurological condition.

So far I’ve learned about normal vs abnormal muscle synergy, stages of motor recovery, spasticity, unusual yet functional props and the best ways to hack my brain for neuroplastic changes. Check out this amazing resource if you have:

  • Spasticity.
  • Decreased ROM.
  • Decreased balance.
  • Hemiparesis.
  • Drop Foot.
  • Been too sedentary due to COVID-19, are aging and less mobile or simply want to improve your balance and mobility.
  • Neurologically based mobility issues.
  • Financial issues or poor insurance coverage keeping you from seeking in-person therapy.
  • You haven’t done physical therapy in a while and want to return to exercising or wondering if you should seek services again.

Because I like to work smart, and I’ve worked in the rehabilitation world as a speech therapist, having a personalized rehabilitation plan matters to me. Insurance won’t reimburse a therapist who’s “winging it” based on a gut feeling. They require a diagnosis, long-term and short-term goals that build upon one another. Frankly, your home program shouldn’t be any different.

I’m trying to remap my brain. Trying to walk 1 mile with a cane in 20 minutes without stopping to rest before I can stand on my weak leg, aligning my belly button over my left foot, with a soft, non-hyper-extended knee while raising my right heel off the ground, is a waste of time.

Grit for grit’s sake is impressive. But that is reserved for folks who move without thinking about moving. Multiple sclerosis has taken away that luxury. But I’m working on it. Her videos, have provided functional techniques, along with a better understanding of how to sequence my movement goals.

And if this doesn’t work, future Linda will have to figure out what’s cheaper, moving to a ranch house or installing a dumb waiter?

Photo Credit: Free iStock by Getty Images via PicMonkey

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