Unfortunately this is probably the most straight forward, uninspiring and dull aspects of my rehab. It is also one of the most vital, and without it my body would become chair shaped. (No joke, I actually would start to become unable to stretch out at the hips and the knees – very scary prospect). But for me I find it extremely tedious and monotonous…I am too restless and fidgety to just stand upright and do nothing!
For people with restricted mobility, standing is vital for many things. Bone density is high on the list; if I don’t weight bear through my legs, the bones will become brittle and are more likely to break.. Broken bones in paralysed legs isn’t a great combination. As well as improving bone density, standing stretches out all of the muscles, improves circulation, reduces the chance of pressure sores…the list goes on.
At a talk thing I was at a couple of months ago, one of the speakers was talking about the benefits of standing for paralysed people. Some asshole in the audience decided to pipe up and say that how can we know that standing is beneficial as there isn’t much scientific research into the area. In my opinion (and I wish I had said it to him at the time) COMMON SENSE tells us that standing is beneficial, therefore why waste millions to prove this. Why is it that after a long car journey, or during a long haul flight people like to stand up and walk around? Able bodied people would never sit in the same position for 10 hours without getting up and stretching their legs, so why should people in wheelchairs? It is beyond me why this guy seemed to think standing was pointless, especially as just after he had spoken he STOOD UP!
Anyway, standing is extremely beneficial for me, and is an activity that I should partake in daily, for at least an hour, with the aid of my standing frame. Well I do everything to avoid it for some reason, even though I always feel so much better after I’ve stood. The initial feeling when I stand up is not fun… it is the feeling of an extremely tight muscle being stretched, when all it wants to do is resist. My stomach muscles, my quads, and my calves all fight the process, and I end up on tiptoes (which means I have to hold on to the frame for dear life) until everything begins to calm down. This only lasts for about a minute at most, and then I can maintain a fairly controlled and graceful standing position, unless my legs are feeling particularly rebellious that day and then it’s anyone’s guess whether I will stay upright.
When I stand during my therapy sessions with my trainers it isn’t nearly as dull. I’ll have balls to throw, bungee cords, boxing or something else to test my core stability, and there will be people around to talk to, which makes the time pass much quicker. But when I am by myself in a room, I get bored within about 10 minutes and then spend the rest of the time counting down until I can sit down again. It’s quite bizarre really how all I want to do is be normal and upright again, yet as soon as I am standing I just want to sit down again! But then again, that’s just proof that it really is exercise… I’m sure there are lots of people who start a run or a bike ride in the gym, enjoy the feeling of doing something active for the first few minutes, and then spend the rest of the time counting down until they can stop.
I do fulfil my standing quota (just about), but I just can’t seem to summon the enthusiasm for it that I do with all of my other rehab. Any suggestions on how to keep me entertained in the standing frame are greatly welcomed!