17 September 2008



best friend


14 September 2008

LimaFest 9/'08

So... Last weekend Dr. Lima was here in Detroit, I think mostly to give a presentation on research, methods, etc. Let's review.

If you haven't been following über-closely, Dr. (Carlos) Lima is the front man for a band of neurologists in Portugal who perform a pretty complicated adult (non-embryonic) stem cell transplant for treatment of spinal cord injury (details: 'net search for "OMA" or "olfactory mucosal autograft", or read some of my older posts). Noncoincidentally, this is the operation I had 11 April 2008. Several of his patients are/have been living on the same floor of the I-House where I am, doing similar hardcore PT, and having awesome results. Beyond those of us at RIM, his patients are all over in Detroit - including even the one other wheeling dude at the Death Cab concert! I don't remember exactly how many people have had the surgery from around the world so far, something like 150-175 or so.

Anyway, I digress. Dr. Lima was here the whole weekend; Friday night a few of us went to have calamari 'n' wine and just spend time with him and some of the people from where he was presenting. Yum, squid! Not as good (or bizarre) as takoyaki, of course, but still quality cephalopod cuisine.

Then Saturday afternoon we went out of Detroit Proper to the WtLtSCIR facility to attend the seminar and schmooze more. Dr. Lima talked about his surgery and recent advances a little, and threw in a smidge about other stem cell surgeries, but mostly discussed the benefits of full weight bearing and braceless training in PT for SCI patients, particularly post-operation. Oversimplified summary: (1) the surgery yields results, (2) don't use leg braces. This may not sound like the most fascinating of lectures to non-SCI folks, but I promise, it was great. Dr. Lima is an information machine, and even though his op quite clearly speaks for itself, his style makes it energetic/riveting/xlnt.

Moving on, the next speaker, a superpowered lab research master, talked about the aforementioned surgery's effects in rats - scientists heart rats, after all. O-Summary: they used to think the procedure didn't work well enough in non-humans... But look! It works with rats, too. Come on, FDA, approve this stuff already!

To round out the PowerPoint party, we went through the slides from an SCI doctor who couldn't attend (appendicitis, anyone?), annotated on the fly by some therapist surrogates. O-Summary: (1) rehab is better when it's holistic, and (2) Dr. Lima is right.

Okay, there ya go; that's about it for a quasi-objective recap. On the more subjective end, the handful of us from therapy were thoroughly excited to talk to Dr. Lima, and, well, show off... It's incredible to see what people can do that simply wasn't going to happen before that trip to Lisbon. I don't think it's appro for me to share many details about other rehabbers, but let's just say they can do some pretty sweet stuff.

Ah, did I mention that I spent the whole weekend pushing myself around in a manual chair? *evil grin*

11 September 2008

this WiR

Hey all! A delicious week in review. Be excited.

To start, I'm still on hold or whatever for OT, courtesy of red tape, so nothing official to report on that front. I've been doing wrist/hand e-stim, playing with my tennis balls and baseball, and rocking all sorts of air guitar (like right now), though, so I'm not slacking off too much. Further, methinks the new phone counts as pretty intense dexterity practice...

Phys therapy has been busy! Let's see...

Friday's session was serendipitously cool, not even counting the slightly secret part. I went over an hour early to get in some leg zap bike time, as usual, but, also as is common, all of the bikes were occupied. So there I was, an hour early (me? early? I know) with nothing to do. Hmmm. Well, (1) I'm always up for some manual chair practice, (2) the chair I've been tooling around in was set up and begging for some action, and (3) doing laps on the track is benign enough of an activity that dad could monitor me sans therapist, so I asked my substitute trainer for the day (the 'cenzo) if I could go for it. But (4) he was done with lunch, and (5) was also bored, so he suggested we get started early and go for a trip! Rock, I said, so we went out to push around the medical center campus, testing out my control of the power-assist wheels on inclines/declines and bumpy sidewalks and such. It was fantastic. I can go pretty much anywhere, up and down and all around, with those wheels. Heart. Get me out of this lazy power chair.

After cruising around like that for about 2h, we returned to do the Giger, followed by the now-open leg e-stim bike. Grand. It should be noted that, despite all the ups and downs and how far we went in the power-assisted manual, my arms were neither sore nor tired. It's still a ton of work, but not quite as gruesome and futile as trying to do the same trip with the completely manual chair. Hrrrg!

Okay, that was Friday's crazy four-hour session. Mon/Tues/Wed's times were a bit more standard - Giger, then either weights or manupropel, then fighting with the broken upper-extremity e-stim bike. Wednesday we completely avoided the uppers bike in favor of the arm cycle part of the MOTOmed. The MOTOmed machine is yet another arm and/or leg ergometer that does not include FES assistance. Instead, I pedal as usual, as much on my own as possible; then it either provides resistance or passive motor assistance, depending on [details omitted] my speed relative to a preset speed goal [mostly]. In other words, first I set a speed, something like 40rpm or so. Then I pedal (I was doing it with my arms). If I went much faster than 40, it increased resistance to make it more difficult and slow me down. If I dropped a lot lower than 40, it would either decrease resistance or move the pedals for me, letting me have a short break without stopping the movement. If I were doing my legs, then, since I can't pedal, it would do all the work for me, passively running my legs through the motions. This isn't as great as the active exercise provided by coordinated electrical stimulation, but it's still important, as repetitive motion is key to retraining my body how to do stuff. Anyway, this machine was holy cow hard, but I could tell that my triceps were working with a fair amount of strength. That's a, umm, huge discovery.

Today? Mammoth sleep session. I'd be better off if I were smart enough to go to bed 3h earlier on nights before therapy. Diurnalism 101: Fail.

I suppose that's about all for now. I haven't even mentioned that Dr. Lima was here over the weekend - that deserves its own post. Coming soon. Word out, skillets de la maison.

03 September 2008

y su gemelo diabólico

Que se passe, mes amis! Il y a peu amusant à dire. Lisez si vous osez...

First, there's not much to report in the OT sector - I've been dancing the insurance limbo for a while on these sessions, so instead of going there I'm taking a little break and just zapping my arms at home.

PT sessions have been fairly standard if you've been following along. That is, I'm still running various combinations of Giger, upper and lower extremity e-stim bikes ("FES ergometers", for the PT-snooty), sitting balance and related exercises, prone (face-down) mat work, weight training, and manual chair propulsion. Oh yeah, beating my trainers at Wii tennis, too ;-)

Exciting part: lots of manuchair work with essentially the chair configuration I'm hoping to get. This means cruising with both completely manual peg-rimmed wheels and power assist wheels of the "e-motion" brand variety. I must admit, the power-assisted method feels like sort of cheating, but also feels extremely nice. Don't be misled - it's still quite a bit of work horsing around in the e-motion-assisted *evil twin* setup, particularly since the assists add about 22.5kg (50lb, you lazy empirical folks) directly to the wheels. However, the first day I used them I clocked a 100m lap in 3:10, which is way down from my completely-manual best of 4:30. I used the e-motions again today, and I'm getting used to them a bit more; it's going to take several metric buttloads of practice, though, before I can actually book it in a straight line, rather than like paraZorro... We didn't time any laps today, but considering I don't remember how many we did, they must've been at least a little bit faster. The 3:10/100m rate is by no means fast enough to be useful among the masses, but improve improve improve (and improv!) I must. Anyway, if Captain Insurance comes to the rescue on this one, I should be manual/semi-manual soon... Caution though, wheelies abound.

Also, be on the lookout - the gun show may be coming to your area. Tickets are free.