Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Walking in Rhythm

During stroke recovery "the good trains the bad." This is known as "bilateral training." In anyone, stroke or not, it is true "the good trains the bad." Here's an example: I'm a drummer. I'm right-hand dominant. If I try to tap my left hand as fast as I can it is not as fast as if I tap it alternately with the right dominant hand. Research has found that my left hand will not only be quicker, but it will be more accurate when I do the movement with my right hand. So I will be both faster and hit the drum where it should be hit.

In stroke survivors bilateral training can be used to begin the recovery process. And it can be used to help stroke survivors with very little movement. Survivors with very little movement are sometimes called "lower-level." (This designation says nothing about the ability to think, only the ability to move.) The reason bilateral training works for lower-level stroke survivors is because the way bilateral training may work. And I say may, because nobody's really sure. Bilateral training may work because the two limbs communicate with each other even when that communication does not go through the brain. It's the reason infants step even before they can walk.
Click here: See a baby walk before it can walk

It's why, in animal experiments, you can sever the spinal cord but the back legs will automatically go into walking pattern when they're put on a treadmill. It has to do with neural networks that are in the spinal cord. These networks are collectively called the central pattern generator (CPG). The CPG allows for limbs to communicate from the fingertips of one hand to the fingertips of the opposite hand (or "toe to toe"), right through the spinal cord.

In the arms and legs, bilateral training is relatively straightforward. In the arms you would have each arm trying to hit a target. You could have both hands attempting to alternate to hit a target. You could also have it set up so the "good "hand has to hit a target that much further away than the "bad" hand. You can also do this with a rhythm. The idea would be to use a metronome (click, click, click, rhythmically) or music where the drumbeat would dictate when each hand would have to meet the target.

In the lower extremity it similar: there is a rhythmic component. You would try to take exactly the same step length with the "good" and "bad" legs. A rhythmic component is added the same way as the arms: music, or a metronome is used to establish be in each footfall happens on each beat. It is thought that reestablishing the rhythmicity of gait will help reestablish the symmetry of gait.

As I said in a PT trade mag...

"A simple metronome either heard through headphones or carried by the therapist next to the stroke survivor can be used to promote the re-establishment of rhythmicity of gait. Plugging the ears using standard noise-reducing plugs can boost the volume of footfall to make that obvious to the survivor. The trick is then to match the footfall to the beat."

By: "stroke recovery blog" "stroke blog"


Amy said...

yeah, for about a year after my stroke, everything I did with the right hand(the bad hand), I did at the same time with the left hand. It helped.

Bert R said...

You might want to look at the Total Motion Release videos on Utube. Tom has been promoting this concept with not only stroke but with all musculoskeletal dysfunctions. It works well. I'm hoping to work with more stroke survivors and see what results we will get. One thing it tells us-just being more active after your stroke, even using your good side, should help the affected side.

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