One side effect of hemiplegia is the impact it can have on your gait and balance.

I suffer from right hemiplegia. In other words, when I have an episode, the right side of my body is affected. I can have anything from a slight weakness in my right arm and leg, to almost complete loss of the use of either, or both.

In the weeks leading up to an episode in early June, I started having trouble with weakness in my right leg. I was relying heavily on my walking stick to get around.

When I was admitted to the hospital, my poor balance and gait were picked up on and I was referred to the physiotherapy department. As I live in a two-storey apartment, they wanted to make sure that I would be able to safely get up and down the stairs.

The physiotherapists took me on several walks around the ward and had me climb up and down a small set of wooden stairs. They were happy that I could manage climbing but said that I would benefit from ongoing therapy as an outpatient.

Today I had my first session with the first of two physiotherapists I will be seeing.

We talked about my last episode, how long I have been depending on my walking stick and my biggest concerns about my balance. I was then asked what I would like to achieve from physiotherapy. It was an easy question to answer – I want to be less reliant on my stick.

Then it was down to business.

The first exercises where the familiar things that all neurology patients can do blindfolded. Lift my legs one at a time while the physiotherapist pushed down, then lowering them while he pushed up. Then it was the time to do the same, only with my feet and toes.

The next exercises gave me flashbacks to the remedial gym that I attended once a week as a girl to improve my co-ordination and balance.

I was asked to remove my socks and stand with my feet apart, in line with my shoulders. Then I had to close my eyes and stand still for thirty seconds. I was a little unsteady, but I managed to stay upright. After that, I had to repeat the exercise with my eyes shut. This time I was more unbalanced, but still kept my feet.

Then things got more interesting. The physio produced a spongy blue mat, about six inches thick. I stood on it and repeated the exercise. Again, the first time I was asked to place my feet apart. When I closed my eyes, I felt myself swaying but did not fall. It was a different story when I tried with my feet together.

I had barely shut my eyes when I started falling sideways. Luckily, the therapist was there to catch me.

The next exercise was easier. A low wooden platform was placed in front of me. I was to put my left foot onto it as many times as I could in a set time, before changing to my right foot.

Finally, I was asked to do leg squats without bending my knees to far. It was not long before I discovered muscles I had forgotten I have. After ten repetitions of squats, the physical side of my session came to an end.

The physiotherapist and I arranged the time for next week’s session. He also explained that from late July, my therapy will be taken over by an exercise physiotherapist.

In the meantime I am under instruction to do forty leg squats a day – twenty in the morning and at night. I am still feeling this morning’s effort.

My bath is going to see a lot more use from now on!


Image; 3dman_eu ([CC0] via Pixabay)