As many of you are aware, my wife had a stroke almost 9 months ago.  She spent 3 months living in rehab facilities.  Once she came home, we started going to the gym on days she did not have out-patient therapy.  Once that ended, we have gone to the gym 5-6 days a week.  It has been a continual process of learning and experimenting.  She has made marvelous progress but still has a distance left to travel.

And I read.  This last book was Stronger After Stroke, Your Roadmap to Recovery, by Peter G. Levine.  He is the co-director of the Neuromotor Recover and Rehabilitation Laboratory (rehablab.org).  He is involved in stroke specific rehabilitation research.

When I started reading this, I was not really impressed and assumed it was fluff.  As I got into it, I realized that he was not merely advising but that he was advocating.  So many times I’ve heard that all the recovery you are going to have will happen in the first 6 months post stroke.  After that – you  are what you are – just live with it.  I did not buy that concept and looked elsewhere for guidance.  Levine’s position is that progress – substantial progress can continue.

Every stroke survivor has a certain level of potential recovery.  Few reach that potential.  Stroke survivors who reach their potential do so because they have no choice.  This breed of “super-survivor” is so unwilling to let go of their career, their independence, or a personal passion that they are compelled to recover.  … For the super-survivor, recovery is a vision quest.

As I read on, I saw the parallel between the focused program of the 52 Day Challenge, and what he laid out in the book.  So little difference.  We can make of our bodies what we choose to make.  The neuroplasticity of our brain is extraordinary.  The willingness of our muscles to respond is within our grasp – within the grasp of the survivor.

One of my favorite sayings concerning exercise: The more you do – the more you can do.  He constantly focuses on repetition.  You just need to know the how of the movement.  So many of his comments and hints apply to all of us as we seek to make our bodies respond more efficiently.

This may be a book for Stroke Victims and their Care Givers – but it is a good read for anyone wishing to know the limits of their mind and their bodies.

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