Posts Tagged ‘paraplegia’

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C7

February 9, 2021

Paraplegia is usually defined as paralysis of the lower limbs. ‘Plegia’ means paralysis and ‘para’ meaning two (a twisting of the original Greek meaning of ‘besides’, as in one beside the other, leading to a pair and so two limbs). However, in order to truly understand paraplegia it is better to see it as characterised by the ‘missing back’. It is as though the posterior third of the trunk has been sliced off. My rehabilitation assessments have always been videoed and in the early days it was still analogue technology and video cassettes. Relatively poor quality from a home camcorder and so every so often a professional cameraman would come and film. He was a Russian who spoke no English so I had little idea of what he was saying. It turned out he was shocked at the lack of depth to my body. He described me as being like a playing card. From the front I looked fairly normal, while from the side I was flat. Nerve damage will paralyse the muscles in the legs, however, the collapse of the structure of the trunk, that should provide the foundation for the use of the legs, is what prevents the recovery of nerve function.

There is so much more depth to my body now and the back is really taking shape, although there is still some way to go and its capacity is still progressing through waves of development. Yesterday C7 disappeared. C7 is the lowest vertebrae in the neck and in a well developed body is always prominent. It is at the transition form the convex curve of the cervical spine, in the neck, to the concave curve of the thoracic spine of the chest and back region. When I was as flat as a playing card there was no prominence of C7 and during waves of development it has appeared, disappeared and reappeared again. As the neck gains more depth it disappears and when this is followed by the back catching up, and gaining more depth, it reappears. It would have been interesting to notch up a record of how many waves of development there have been. It would be in the hundreds. Not thousands but definitely hundreds. At times these waves of development were happening twice a week, but with the back very much nearer completion they happen less often, though no less significant with each wave building up a new layer of structure.

It is interesting to see that the lack of prominence of C7 is not confined to paraplegics and is also evident in some able bodied people. Although not severe enough to prevent the use of the legs it is nonetheless a lack of development with inevitable consequences. This is particularly noticeable in those with ADHD where the lack of physical capacity results in the lack of capacity to remain focused. I came across such children while working at a Secure Children’s Unit and although I am no longer involved it remains an ambition of mine to one day use my skills, in developing a physical body, to help young people overcome their difficulties.

With these waves of development in the past I noticed minimal effect on my stature and it was only by feeling for the prominence of C7 that I knew what was happening. Now though the disappearance of C7 leaves me with a profound inability to hold my head high while it is preceded, and after a while succeeded, by an incredible natural ability to do just that. The closer we get to building those final outer layers of the trunk, the closer I get to feeling for the body’s true stature.

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Climbing a Mountain

October 8, 2020

I haven’t written a blog post for a whole year. I didn’t feel I had anything new to say. I even sat down in February and got half way through writing a post only to give up. I was just repeating myself. I’d said it all before and was relating what I was saying to yet more small improvements in the head, but that’s just it. What it takes to heal a body, from such a catastrophic injury, is one small improvement after another. Advanced Bio-Mehanical Rehabilitation, as the way of therapy I work with is known, is not a miracle cure, and there are no miracle cures, just steps in the right direction. Each step is nothing more than a tiny incremental change, but if you take enough small steps you can climb a mountain and climbing a mountain is exactly what you have to do to overcome the physical effects of a spinal injury.

Paraplegia is considered a permanent condition and without dedication to a way of healing it will be. I talked in November 2017, in a post entitled ‘Competitive Co-Operative’,about spinal injury being about far more than the loss of muscular function, due to nerve damage, and that there is enormous collateral damage; structural collapse that fails to recover naturally and overtime the changes become ingrained in the body and, if we are not careful, permanent. The cells of our body are constantly replenished and I am led to believe that every seven years we have an entirely new body with every cell being replaced over that period of time. Those changes will be replaced in the same ingrained fashion, unless we encourage the body to return to balance, as it replaces its cells. By delivering repetitive mechanical inputs, into the system of the body, we can encourage that return to balance as the body’s replenishes itself.

By the very nature of the work we are undertaking, it is a long slow process, although I find it incredible that the improvements, however slow, creep up on you so that now and then you suddenly realise how much you have changed and how far you have come. It would be nice to think that those who have known me throughout my rehabilitation notice these changes, bearing in mind that over the last twenty years we have radically altered the structure of my entire body to the point that I barely resemble the paraplegic I once was, and there are some who do. However, there are others who seem to forget just how bad a condition I was once in. I met someone at a funeral earlier this year who asked me if I was still doing the therapy and whether it was working. I looked down at my body and thought, ‘Can’t you see!’.

There’s a guy who drinks in my local pub, whom I haven’t know for long, who on hearing about my therapy work wanted to know more. I gave him the links to my website (www.spinalroots.net), blog (www.spinalroots.blog) and film (www.spinalroots.uk) and on seeing him the following week was impressed with how much he’d looked into it. He realised not only the enormity of the physical improvements, but the extent of the life journey I have undertaken. He’s inspired me to talk more about the psychological aspects of overcoming such an injury, realising that you can’t begin to heal a body without also healing the mind. So maybe it’s time to go back to the beginning and tell the story from a different perspective.