• Drew Clayborn

Lets Get Physical, Physical

Another aspect I had to learn before leaving the hospital was how to take care of my body physically. Fancy medical word for that is physical therapy and occupational therapy. Basically working your muscles, tendons, and joints. Taking care of your body is such a huge issue after a spinal cord injury because you can’t physically use your muscles on your own and after while they’ll start to atrophy where they can’t fire anymore. The exercises and equipment used in PT and OT is important because it improves blood flow and circulation which helps with all types of things. Blood pressure so you’re not dizzy getting in the chair or sitting up throughout the day. Blood circulation is healthy for healing properly if you have any marks on your skin and actually helps to prevent any marks or pressure sores from forming. Also helps with keeping your bone density healthy for the possibility of standing and putting pressure on your bones without risk of fractures. There’s a vast range of things you can do to take care of your muscles and joints. In the hospital we did a lot of stretching, practiced standing with tilt tables and standing frames, and riding on an electric stem bike.

The funniest practice to me in the hospital was how much they were into using vibrators. When I went to physical therapy in the hospital we’d be doing stretches and working on my muscles and then all of a sudden they’d whip out the big hitachi wand! PSA TO ALL WOMEN: HITACHI WANDS ARE NOT MEANT TO BE VIBRATORS. THEY’RE MUSCLE MASSAGERS. They’d plug that shit it, turn it on high, and get to rubbing it all over me! Apparently it’s great for relieving tension and muscle tone. Uh, duh! Jokes aside, this used to crack me up. As a 15 year old kid who had a laptop and guideline free internet since he was 11 I thought this was hysterical. We had the wand at PT and then on my bedside they gave me smaller dick shaped vibrators and the package had words like sensual and pleasurable written on it. Whenever OT was in my room and I’d start having muscle spasms she’d go whip out that pink vibrator!

In all seriousness though as far as physical therapy and taking care of your body goes it’s important to do multiple things to keep your body healthy. After leaving the hospital I was going to DMC RIM in Novi three days a week to do PT and OT. This was extremely tough on my life and limiting to my life because I had to miss the first two periods of school to go there, then I’d get there and I’d have to strip down so we could get to my skin to put these electrodes on for the electric stem bike and I’d only be on for about 20 min for my arms and legs. It was a lot of effort for not enough activity. Along with the fact that once insurance saw that you weren’t making “progress” towards walking they’d stop paying for it and you’d have to pay $25 a month just to use the equipment that’s there.

Luckily, we came across the equipment called wearable therapy by axiobionics early on before my body had fully atrophied. It’s a garment that is able to electric stem all the muscles in the body. For over six years my regime only consisted of doing 5 hours of the therapy a day along with arm and leg stretches in the morning. This freed me up to have a life! The stimulation of the muscles is crucial for blood flow and preventing pressure sores. In high school and college I could do the therapy at night while I sleep and during the day I could go to school, do marching band, participate in activities without worrying whether or not my body was healthy. I felt so good that taking care of my body became easy! Just an after thought to what I wanted to do each day.

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