Monday, February 17, 2020

TruST Force Field

In this study from Columbia Engineering, researchers are designing a new rehabilitation device to help people who have limited trunk control. Trunk-Support Trainer, or TruST, is a unique idea: it's an assistive tool intended to increase users' sitting and balance abilities over time by retraining better postural control. Depending on the level of spinal cord injury (or on the severity of certain other neurological conditions or diseases), lack of torso control can represent a serious issue in everyday life. In response to the problem, TruST is supposed to help users improve their posture and regain more mobility. Researchers are calling it a "force field." Not quite the typical science fiction type of force field, but it's a clever concept, and I hope it turns out to be a useful one.

Saturday, February 1, 2020

Video Update (January 2020): Using a Treadmill

One time several years ago, while we were walking in a grocery store, someone approached my family to ask about my injury.  When she heard that it was paralysis and then recovered from the shock of realizing how serious that was, she smiled encouragingly. 

"Keep it up," she said.  "That's some determination."

After she had walked away, my father laughed.  "There's a fine line between desperation and determination," he remarked.

The woman's kind words and my father's response have stuck with me.  It's true: life with a spinal cord injury can sometimes seem pretty desperate.  It's often a battle, which is one reason why setting goals and staying motivated are extremely important. 

At times, that line between desperation and determination does become very fine.  How to tell the two apart?  I don't take much time to think about it.  But I do have to laugh about the distinction again today.  This winter, after years of waiting, I've finally gotten to something that I have been determined to try: using a treadmill

As you can see in the video, it's not conventional.  Yet it's walking — and more importantly, it's working.  I don't think that I could have done this last year.  Almost seven years in, and seeing progress?  Yes, and I am thankful for it.  This newest exercise is another promising, hopeful step forward.

Still, there is a vital difference between desperation and determination.  The word "desperate" is derived from the Latin word desperatus, from the verb despero: "to despair," "to lose hope," "to give up," and "to be hopeless."  If you are desperate, you are in despair.  You have no hope.  Determination, on the other hand, comes from the Latin verb determino: "to bound" or "to limit."  To determine means to set a limit and to fix a boundary: metaphorically, to resolve on reaching a goal, or to be firmly decided about something.  Broadly, determination is about resolution and direction.  Desperation involves giving up and feeling like you have no hope.  Determination involves giving direction and keeping hope.  Personally, I find my hope in Jesus Christ, and that helps me move toward a bigger goal than what I can see. 

For now, I hope that this video update encourages you (and maybe gives you ideas for working out if you have the ability, especially if you, too, are constantly recovering or maintaining your health with physical therapy).  Reaching goals may not always look conventional, and might take time and creativity.  I don't know what the next day holds — and have had some huge setbacks along the way — but walking on a treadmill is a pretty big deal when you were told you would never be able to walk again at all.  Never give up.

Wednesday, January 1, 2020

Happy New Year!

Six years ago, in January 2014, I began to use the kitchen sink and some pillows as a makeshift standing frame.  Having a place to work on standing was a turning point in regaining muscle function on a basic level.  My back had been so injured that on the first day it tolerated just four minutes of standing.  By the spring, I was leaning against the counter for fourteen hours a day, and not long after, I was able to start using leg braces to walk.

We often say that the beginning of the year is a time for new opportunities.  Every January, remembering the changes that started in 2014, I look ahead to what the next year brings.  Opportunities can come when and where you least expect them.  January happens to be an especially good reminder of that.

“The object of a New Year is not that we should have a new year.  It is that we should have a new soul and a new nose; new feet, a new backbone, new ears, and new eyes.  Unless a particular man made New Year resolutions, he would make no resolutions.  Unless a man starts afresh about things, he will certainly do nothing effective.” — G. K. Chesterton