Just one year after graduating from PT school, I had a call from a 25-year-old man who had suffered a severe neurological injury after diving into an above-ground swimming pool exactly one year prior. His diagnosis: C5/C6 Incomplete Quadriplegia. Despite being told that his greatest recovery potential would occur within the first 12 months post-injury, he was hopeful that more options were available. After using therapeutic exercises and neuro-muscular re-education techniques to get him functionally stronger and to improve his coordination, he demonstrated good rehabilitation potential to become more physically independent in performing his routine daily activities.
But there was a problem. Because his gait pattern was so complex, I could only envision approximately 85% of the deviations as they related to faulty muscle activity related to asymetrical imbalances of muscle strength which were related to his neurological injury.
So one night I prayed that God would provide additional insights so that I could observe the disharmonious symphony of faulty neuromuscular electrical activity that was occurring within his body during gait, so that I could optimize my clinical approach to his rehabilitation. Now, I work hard as a PT, and overheat easily. So I always wear light-weight, short-sleeve, 100% cotton shirts. But in a dream later that evening, while standing, I looked down at myself, and saw that I was wearing this client's red and black plaid, quilted and long-sleeved, wool hunting shirt! I was at first confused, but then had an epiphany: "Look at your hands." Instantly, I could see the muscle wasting in the thenar muscles (that control the thumb movements, related to the C5/C6 incomplete quadriplegia). OMG! God was letting me take this guy's neurologically damaged body for a "test-drive!" So immediately after struggling through and experiencing his aberrant gait pattern directly, I knew exactly how to expand and fine-tune his physical rehabilitation program to achieve a truly optimal clinical outcome!
I integrated Russian electrical strengthening to directly strengthen his remaining intact neuro-motor units. This client was seen three times per week for one year on an outpatient basis. At baseline, he walked 25' using two straight canes, a right ankle brace, and an abdominal binder (to prevent orthostasis due to decreased muscle tone). After six months, he was able to permanently stop using these four external forms of support.
By 10 months, I calculated that he should have been strong enough to push my van several feet (in neutral gearshift position, on a perfectly level road, with a curb weight of 3,400 lbs which included a driver). He exceeded my expectations and pushed the van for 195'! Needless to say, this was the psyche boost that he needed to prepare for community re-integration, which included finishing his college degree and getting married. Attendees marveled that without any adaptive equipment being required, he walked down the wedding aisle with a perfectly normal gait pattern! Amazing indeed, when taking into account that his physiatrist at the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago wrote his first prescription to only include "strengthen the upper extremities; transfer training."
I have 33 years of diverse clinical experience specializing in the treatment of musculo-skeletal pain syndromes due to adaptive muscle shortening and muscle imbalances of strength and flexibility. I treat competitive athletes, workers and the advanced elderly. They all have in common shortened musculature and some form of muscle imbalance. Treatment resolves pain, optimizes athletic potential, and among the elderly physical independence is restored.