My wife has been working out since the first week of August 2012, after spending 3 months in residential rehabilitation facilities subsequent to her stroke.  It has been a long arduous journey.  She has invested herself into recouping as much of her physical abilities as she can. 

The focus has always been on functionality.  Aside from all the normal Activities of Daily Living, being able to drive again was a big goal.  To achieve that, she needed to work on her right leg and especially her right ankle and foot movement.  None of us realize what we need to be able to do for such an everyday task until it is denied us.  My job has been to analyze what was going on and help her work on that function.  To her credit, she suffers me with a smile.

Yes – she is driving now.  It has not only given her back her freedom – but – it has given me back a level of freedom.

Still – there are aspects that need work.  Her core is impaired.  Just the ability to roll over in bed is a problem.  We are working on that.  The cable machine is her friend.  Twisting exercises are key.

Her right shoulder has been a serious problem.  Certain movements cause significant pain.  There is no tear in the rotator cuff.  No cause other than a muscle imbalance and habitual improper movement developed during recovery.   The Side Lateral Raise machine, pictured below was of significant difficulty.  She could not raise her arms.  I would stand behind her and lift letting her resist on the negative.  Not fun.

Physical therapy has been less than rewarding.  Finally, we backed off all exercise that focused on the shoulder and dealt with other areas in the upper back and arm movements.

This morning, we tried the Side Lateral Raise machine again.  I set the machine at the lightest weight.  Before I could position myself behind her to assist, she was moving her arms in pretty much a full range of motion.  She did 10 repetitions quickly and then I forced her to stop.  I did not want to damage an area that has taken so long to progress.

If she could have done a little happy dance – she would have.  She was smiling ear to ear.  She was making progress and she knew that her hard work was paying off. 

Speaking of dancing, she starts a dance class tomorrow.  She has always been a talented dancer who made me look good on the dance floor – even though she was leading.  Getting this ability back – is probably as important to her as driving.  I see this class as another component of her therapy – another step forward.

We take so much for granted until life smacks us upside the head.  Then and only then do we realize what we have and how lucky we are.

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