Sunday, 1 February 2015

Exo session 1

Here's a video from my first session last Friday. 

The exo skeleton has 3 progressive modes. For this session, it was set in the middle mode called adaptive (or Active Step). In that mode, if I've understood this properly, the machine is responsive to my ability - if I get my gait right, the exo will progressively back off and allow me to walk freely, but if I make mistakes, the exo will immediately take control and correct me. In that way, I should relearn a correct step pattern. Sophisticated stuff. 

You'll see that for now I'm working with two physios and a walking frame. As I progress, the physios should become less actively involved and I will move off the frame and onto walking sticks.

My main gait issues concern uneven weight shift and timing: I do not shift my weight properly onto my right leg, and move too quickly through the stand phase on my right side. Much of this session was about trying to  correct those issues. 

I had two big obstacles. The first is muscular tightness. I have tight muscles throughout my body, but it is most severe in my right side from beneath my rib cage, through my hip and into my quads. What I hadn't realised till Friday is that the effect is to produce a powerful right to left twist as I move my right leg, which you can see in the video (and I suspect it is that twist that causes my right foot pronation and toe drop).  The other is high frequency hearing loss, which is unrelated to my SCI. On the video, you will hear (I'm told!) two beeps as I move my left leg, and two beeps as I move my right. Those are prompts to tell me when I have moved my hips sideways and forwards to the correct point. The problem is that I cannot hear all the beeps! As a result, I found it hard to get the timing right, and when the machine then corrected me, I shifted to default movement pattern, trying to use my strength to control my movement, which resulted in me fighting against the machine. So, I found it difficult to get into the groove on Friday, but hopefully that will come in the next few sessions. 

To benchmark progress, here's a clip of a timed 10m walk during my assessment the prior week

And here's a short walk after session 1.  

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