Saturday, 16 March 2013

An extra leg to stand on

With the onset of my Parkinson’s symptoms, I’ve come to realise how hard the body works to maintain its posture and how important this is for movement. Take your legs for example; the bones in your legs are wrapped in layers of specifically sculpted muscle and it is the careful balance of these muscles (some relaxing and some contracting) that keep the hip joints active and the leg straight with knees pointing forward to enable the legs to move freely.

Unfortunately for me the coordination of these muscles is dependent, in part, on the correct levels of dopamine; the chemical reduced in Parkinson’s. As a result, the muscles of my right leg are becoming uncoordinated with some rigidly locked in place while others are still active, causing my whole leg and foot to rotate to the right. Ultimately this causes me to drag my right leg and swivel my hips to push the stride through, resulting in an unsteady, shuffling walk.

There is help at hand! I’ve been given an extra leg! In fact it is a beaten up, NHS, metal with grey plastic trim walking stick. Despite its lack of aesthetic appeal, my walking stick is doing a solid job of providing stability to my walking and reminding me to extend my stride. These adaptations I’m making are about gaining extra capacity. It is unhelpful to see them as what I have lost; they are something to gain.

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