Friday, May 4, 2012

Video games+Tennis balls+ Anger=Recovery

A great article in the British newspaper The Telegraph. The article is by a stroke survivor who recovered well after an ischemic (block) stroke. He's hit on some very core ideas. Here are the most important points (comments in red are mine):
  • "...nobody in the hospital was going to tell me how to get better ..."
  • "I had to get out of hospital and cure myself."
  • "...found that major strides had been made in America in treating stroke victims." (USA! USA! USA!)
  • "Research there showed that damaged neural pathways could be re-routed" (Taub! Taub! Taub!)
  • "The key was speed. After three or four weeks, the brain seemed to start a permanent shut-down on these pathways." Not true. But the guy is a "High Master" which I think is a principal. He can be forgiven.
  • "I decided to bounce a tennis ball 2,000 times a day off the kitchen floor, missed catches not counting." Obsessive repetitive practice. I love it.
  • "The first day it took four hours to reach the target." Ambitious repetitive practice.
  • "...wrote out the alphabet, one line per letter, for two hours a day." Brilliant, I think the British say.
  • "I vowed to (type) 10 pages a day, typing out my corrections on my latest book with one finger. The first 10 pages took three days." I love this guy.
  • "I decided to recite the poems of Andrew Marvell for two hours a day..." Fighting aphasia by using something meaningful. This guy may have missed his calling: neuroscience.
  • "I marched up and down the stripes on the lawn for two hours a day." Very Monty Python.
  • To reestablish I coordination he used "a computer game flying a virtual F15 jet - or, in my case, crashing it thousands of times on the runway before finally landing it - after 40 hours' "flying" time." I think this is great. The idea of doing something fun to recover. When else in the middle of somebody's career are they allowed to play 40 hours of any game?
  • "I came close to giving up the grind of rehab. But by choosing tasks like writing the alphabet or counting how many times I could walk down the lawn without crossing a stripe, I could monitor my own progress." Okay, two things: close to giving up. But not giving up. And second: being able to "monitor progress" is essential to recovery because if you don't monitor things closely how do you know if you are getting any better?
  • "The difference between success and failure was...a deep anger that I was not offered more help to start with" You know, even Gandhi was not against anger. He just said you should use it wisely because it's very powerful. I'd say using anger to recover from stroke is using anger wisely. 
    •  Gandhi on Anger  "I have learned through bitter experience the one supreme lesson to conserve my anger, and as heat conserved is transmuted into energy, even so our anger controlled can be transmuted into a power which can move the world." 
Bravo High Master of stroke recovery!

Find the article here.


oc1dean said...

Your back and forth on his regimen needs to be posted in every stroke clinic and hospital. In fact the whole thing should become a TED talk. Peter you should present at a local TEDx talk.

Peter G Levine said...

From your mouth to TED's ears; thanks my friend!

Charlene and David said...

Very Funny Article!!

On another note...Would you be so kind as to post this reminder to your bloggers to tune and call in for our first interview! Details below. Thank you!

A reminder to tune in and call in this Sat. May 13, from 7pm to 8:30pm. Call in to Blog Talk Radio & speak with the host and us at (347) 850-1527 within 15 minutes of show time. Save this date and time and mark your calendar. Thanks!
Dave & Charlene Nassaney, Authors of One Arm One Leg 100 Words, Overcoming Unbelievable Hardships. (Stroke Survivors for over 15 years)

GirlWithTheCane said...

I like the idea of playing video games to recover. :) Was your talk recorded for those of us who missed it?

GirlWithTheCane said...

I like the idea of video games as recovery.:)

Lorraine said...

I am studying Occupational Therapy, i wish you were one of the tutors. It would make for very entertaining learning.

Peter G Levine said...


One of the best comments ever! Thanks! I'll point out that I do many seminars to many OTs. Please see the link for talks on the blog.

Mike said...

The Spurs coach Popovich said during the game ," I want some nasty!" They went on to beat OKC.I believe that's how you beat a stroke, you go nasty, hate it and beat it, the old school way.Nothing fancy, no high tech needed. Determination,imagination and willingness to try are everything a survivor need in the bag to win this game where so much is at stake.

Betty Longwood said...

My stroke was last November 9 days after a mild heart attack. Blockage in a small vessel that could not be removed without damaging the vessel. I suspect the blockage dislodged and went to my brain. Totally surprised but I knew immediately it was a stroke. It took my left side and I have never felt I would not recover. Mind over matter. I agree you have to get mad and exercise everyday to get the muscles and brain back in sinc. I am a tennis player, played 3 times a week before the stroke. My goal is to get back on the court this fall. Anger + determination and a goal = success. God is good.

Betty Longwood said...

My stroke was last November, 9 days after a mild heart attack. Quite the surprise. It took my left side but not speech or face. I have had to learn to walk again and pick up things and move my arm. Praise God for my determination. Anger+ determination and exercise everyday + a GOAL = success. I am a tennis player and have played 3 times a week for years. My GOAL is to be back on the court by the fall. God is good. 626

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