Walking = Our Independence!

Ask yourself the question, “Am I safe when I walk?” Many stroke patients are concerned about a wide range of issues because of the stroke. Among the many items, they worry about is walking. Can I walk unassisted at all times? Can I go downstairs? Can I walk for 20 minutes? Can I walk for a mile? If I need assistance, can I walk 100 yards or meters? You have asked yourself these questions and dozens of other questions about your walking.

Studies illustrate that walking after a stroke is one of the most important things you can do.  The research points that it helps you regain your strength, stamina, and balance to promote your recovery. The quality of your gait is a reflection of your muscle weakness, spasticity, and other factors. Walking stimulates your brain and gives you the opportunity to get better. 

Can I go down an escalator? I found I needed to reclaim my balance a bit too late. In March of 2011 (13 months after the strokes occurred), I attended a veterinary conference. I didn’t even ask myself if I could go. I just went. I found there were several challenges I was not prepared for. One of them was going up and down escalators. I barely made the first day of adventures on the escalators. My balance was not up to the task of getting on and off an escalator. I didn’t think of escalators in advance of the conference. Sometimes it is good we don’t imagine every scenario beforehand or we would not go anywhere! I used the elevators for the rest of the conference. 

When we do not walk, we lose our independence. We worry about falling when we walk. Did you know that stroke thrivors have a 70% of falling in the first year of the stroke? I fell down 10 months in the stroke recovery and sprained my affected (bad) ankle. I did it because I didn’t listen to my wife’s and my doctor’s advice. Also, we have reduced fitness levels (half the normal) and the energy cost of walking. For stroke patients, it is about double that of people who haven’t suffered a stroke because of the abnormal nervous system connections. Yuck!

Walking is actually a very complex task that requires many systems in the body to work and communicating constantly. After a stroke, many times your ability to walk is compromised. The disruption to any (or many) of the systems will cause you to fall (or worse). Add frailty and fear to the mix, and it’s amazing any of us gets around after a stroke. If you can walk, even with it abnormal, it is a blessing. 

Sources for this post: https://www.brainandlife.org/articles/walk-this-way/https://www.physio-pedia.com/Gait_Training_in_Stroke, & https://homecareassistance.com/blog/how-walking-can-promote-stroke-recovery.

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