Internal Perception

March 7, 2011

There’s a saying in life that goes, ……”You don’t know what you’ve got until you lose it”. When it comes to the seriously damaged condition of the body in the case of paraplegia, I think we need to re-write the saying to, ……”You don’t know what you’ve had until you not only lose it but regain it”. Leaving out of the equation, for now, the general decline in my body due to less than ideal living, something common to the vast majority of us, and the damage due to various other injuries, minor in comparison, we are dealing with an injury that causes catastrophic collapse of primary structures within the trunk of the body. In damaging the spinal cord, you damage the very core of the body, affecting every layer from the centre outwards.

However, when you suffer such an injury it is impossible to appreciate this loss of structure. Initially there is the trauma of such an accident together with weeks of bed rest, followed by rehabilitation based upon conscious muscular effort, something you are incapable of to any great, and true, extent, followed by a life of wheelchair use. By the time you settle down into your new found state of being, your able bodied past seems little more than a distant memory. It would be fair to say that I have little conception of what it is to be able bodied and that the art of walking has become something totally alien to my consciousness. What is more, I think nothing of living a life, as that horrible saying goes, ‘confined to a wheelchair’. The fact that I spend a great deal of time moving around without a wheelchair, putting pay to the saying, is a different story, but I do achieve an enormous amount through using a wheelchair. I keep dogs, manage land with sheep and keep geese to cut the grass in my garden. I cross a field in a wheelchair as though that is how everyone lives. The point I am making is that, if I had been truly aware of the extent of the loss of structure of my body, then I’m not sure that I could of embarked upon such a full and active life.

When I first got involved with Advanced Bio-Mechanical Rehabilitation, four and a half years after injury, I felt quite insulted when Leonid Blyum told me that I had weaknesses in my upper body. Looking in the mirror I saw a body more muscular than I could ever remember. From the waist down I was dead weight that I simply had to carry around with me, but not from the waist up. However, it was not long before I began to appreciate those weaknesses. Not a conscious appreciation, though, but merely an academic appreciation. Conscious awareness is not possible when the primary structures of the body are so terribly depleted. You might wonder why you ache, wonder why it is difficult to hold your head up high or sit up straight, but to me the upper regions of my trunk, those parts not directly effected by paralysis, have always felt normal, until now that is.

After ten years of dedication to ABR therapy, things are falling into place. There has always been progress, but recently we have brought my pelvis back to life and regained some structural integrity, creating connection between the elements from head to pelvic floor. This connection is still in its infancy, but has brought with it a sense of ‘internal perception’ that I have never known before, not even when I was able bodied. For the first time I am consciously aware of the twist in my body. How the collapse begins in the left posterior neck, descending through to the pelvis. This explains why the left shoulder is so much weaker than the right. Years of conditioning of attainment to good posture have compensated for lack of stature (in a very superficial sense) masking that twist in outward perception.

The structures we have rebuilt in my body (brought back to life), were structures developed in very early childhood and so have always been taken for granted. In regaining those structures after years of loss, I have gained a truly wonderful internal perception of not just the strength that those structures bring, but, I believe, the structure itself. I hope I never take this for granted again.


  1. An absolutely wonderful and inspiring story. It’s really exciting to see the effects of ABR over time on the body and hopefully your blog will be an inspiration to many parents to stick with it. My so, who is 25, was a near drown at 12 years of age. We have been involved with ABR-Montreal for the past seven and continue to see progress…it does give one’s life back. Best wishes…

  2. Wow…What an amazing story about you and ABR!

    Leonid does rock! It is amazing and inspirational how you can feel and translate this to us! We practiced ABR on our non verbal son for 5 years. We thought he had Sp Quad Cp, but was just diagnosed at 6 1/2 with a rare disease called Lesch Nyhan. It mimics Cp with self injurious behavior. We decided to give ABR a break to digest this terrible news, and take break financially.
    I did lots of research, and my sons structure looks so much better than alot of the boys with Lesch Nyhan. I am a true believer of ABR and try to spread the word.

  3. […] texto es una traducción de la entrada disponible en https://spinalroots.wordpress.com/2011/03/07/life-on-the-fringe/, publicado por primera vez el 28 de marzo de […]

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