Sunday, March 27, 2011

On the Ball

Many people with spinal cord injuries struggle with curvature of the spine due to lack of muscle stability and movement. This may require the use of a back brace. At worst case scenario surgery is needed to fuse the bones together in order to fix the problem.

After I got my halo taken off, the doctors fused my neck from C-1 to C-4; the rest of my spine is not. I curve in three places: at the base of my neck, in my thoracic region (in between my shoulder blades), and in my lower back. Aside from a sideways curve, my lower back also curves inward causing lordosis (more commonly known as arching).

I wear a back brace every day while I'm up in my wheelchair, about eight hours, to help keep my spine straight. However, over time the curve has gotten progressively worse. In order to avoid surgery my therapist has been thinking of ideas to straighten my spine out.

About a month ago my therapist had an idea of putting me prone on one of those big exercise balls. This would help my back from curving. The first day I did it I wasn't nervous at all. When they got me flipped over I immediately felt nauseous because the ball was pushing on my stomach. After getting positioned correctly, they were able to get my spine fairly straight and my muscles relaxed. The position was a little awkward and not what I was used to, but manageable.

The second time I did it was two weeks later. That time I had three therapists with me. Like the first time, I felt nauseous in the beginning. This time I actually threw up (first time since before my accident) because the ball was pushing on my vagus nerve. It came up by gravity; I didn't gag at all. Despite the unpleasant experience, they were able to get my spine even straighter than the first time.

On Friday I went on the ball for the third time. This was two weeks after the second. The amazing thing was I didn't feel sick at all and they got my back completely flat. They even got most of my curves to straighten out. I posted a picture of me on the ball below. It doesn't show my whole body, but you can get a general idea. I think we are going to continue to do this every two weeks because it can help to avoid surgery.



Anonymous said...

wow congrats in getting ur spine straight... still waiting for you to send me pictures and stuff :) u wore back brace while doin? jialiang

Anonymous said...

There are so many ways to use the exercise ball..... add one more to the list! Good job!