October 8, 2007

Stepping Up to a New AFO

You know it's a sad state of affairs when you can say that flipping a mattress was the highlight of your Sunday. Okay, flipping two mattresses, that's a little better but it's still pathetic. Or is it? We all need a stop-and-smell-the-dust-mites kind of day once in a while.

Monday was just the opposite from Sunday with several things happening to thrill and excite. Okay, not thrilling as in a roller-coaster-at-Disney-Land kind of way, but thrilling in the stroke recovery world. We started the day with a physical therapy session (on land this time) for Don. The highlight of which was Don being asked to step up and back down on a step that was placed in front of a grab bar. This was a two man operation, to help Don the first time. He came close to wiping out and falling and would have if not for the fact that I was there with his wheelchair to catch him on his way down to the floor. His therapist had set a goal of three steps up and down but after that first attempt Don was a little scared to try again. But trooper that he is, after a little rest he was good to go again and the improvement between the first and second attempt was dramatic. By the third step up and down, Don was able to do it all on his own power with minimal help from any of us. Now, if that isn't something to thrill and excite I don't know what is.

In the afternoon Don got casted for a new AFO. When we told Don's PT this morning where we were going to get the AFO made he got puffed-up impressed and told us that the man who owns the place is known world-wide for his innovated carbon fiber braces. He holds the patent and people fly in from all over the world to get them made from him. And here we picked out the place because it was close to home. Who knew our good luck would come to this? What makes this AFO different from the old plastic type Don had before is that the foot part has springy action that is suppose to help with drop foot and the carbon fibers are, of course, very light weight. The top part that goes around the calf is one continuous piece; you slip your foot down through the opening in the top to put it on and it's suppose to help you to stand up straighter. We'll see. It's not going to be a put-it-on-oh-it's-a-miracle kind of thing. We'll have hard work to do---the PT, me and the brace guy---to get Don's calf muscles stretched back out after several years of atrophy.

This orthopedics place also owns a Giger biofeedback machine that the owner has offered to let our PT use on Don free of charge. There are only three in our town of well over 600,000 people. If we can pull this together I'll blog more about the technology later on. It looks interesting!

Jean Riva ©

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