PowerCranks as a rehabilitation tool for the cerebral palsy/stroke victim
Primary neurological movement disorders present a unique and difficult rehab problem. Examples include both cerebral palsy and stroke. Improvement can occur if the nervouse system can adapt and develop alternative pathways to relax and contract muscles in a coordinated fashion. But, if the nervous system is capable of developing these pathways it is not going to happen if the proper stimulus is present to cause the pathways to develop. That is where PowerCranks can help.
PowerCranks give the user feedback that the nervous system can use to develop these new pathways then they can be developed, While not every problem can be corrected or, even, improved, many can. One cannot know until one tries.
Check out the video below of Jim Lawyer, a mid 40's male with cerebral palsy. While not completely correcting his problem use of the PowerCranks allowed him to improve the cycling balance from a totally imbalanced 80/20 to an almost perfectly balanced 51/49 in a little over 1 year. And, he reported improvement in his running gait.
Or this testimonial from stroke victim Eric S.
PowerCranks - For Rehab after a Stroke
In April of 2012, I suffered a hemorrhagic stroke. A 50 y/o marathon runner, with nearly 40 marathons under my belt, I'd allowed my blood pressure to get out of control and paid the price for it. I was rushed to the hospital, where I found myself paralyzed on my left side. I couldn't move my arm or leg, and my speech was incomprehensible. I'd spent two weeks in the Neuro ICU getting my blood pressure back under control, and another two weeks in rehab.
While in rehab, I was given a variety of exercises, each lasting only a few minutes. Stretchy bands (Therabands), lifting light weights, and stretching. All around me were mostly elderly patients, all doing the same sort of rehab. I'd realized that there was a "one size fits all" philosophy, and I was sure that there must be a better way to recover the use of my limbs. My neurologist explained that I needed to rebuild not only the muscle which had atrophied, but that I needed to do some sort of repetitive exercise to retrain the brain, causing it to create new pathways to accomplish the tasks that the damaged part of the brain once controlled.
Once I was discharged, I was sent home with a cane. I could hobble around, but couldn't walk with a normal gait. And running was out of the question. My month of at-home rehab was not very productive - more of the same stretchy bands/yoga/light weights. I was making some progress, but it wasn't the repetitive exercise that my neurologist had recommended and I was not rebuilding muscle.
At the conclusion of the month of at-home rehab, I was moved to outpatient rehab, which was still more of the same. My PT recommended that I ride the exercise bike, using only my left (weak) leg. I tried this on their clunky exercycle and found it very difficult to maintain my balance while keeping one leg out to the side to avoid it hitting the right pedal, and pushing and lifting on the weak leg. I could manage a minute or two, but the difficulty maintaining balance made this an impossible candidate for the repetitive exercise that I knew I needed. I had a road bike at home, which I'd been riding in a trainer for a few weeks, but I knew that my strong leg was doing most of the work and my weak leg wasn't getting a good workout.
Searching the 'net for people in similar situations, for running rehab options - I found PowerCranks. I'd read everything I could on their site and elsewhere. There was a money back guarantee, so I decided to go for it. I'd emailed Frank and asked a bunch of questions and he replied that I should use the smallest possible length, which I took as a challenge. I'd ordered the Entry cranks and had the LBS install them for me.
My first week on the cranks was.... challenging. I'd be able to go for a minute or two without stopping, then take a break for a minute, and repeat. I forced my way through an hour of this. It was difficult. I didn't think I'd ever get to ride these smoothly, like a normal person on a normal bike. I kept at it though. I went from a max of 5 minutes without stopping.. to 8... then 11....then 15. Within a couple of weeks I could do 30 minutes without stopping, and very soon after that, I'd hit an hour. When I got off the bike, I was completely soaked and I knew I worked the precise muscles that needed work - my quads and hamstrings - as far as I could.
Not only was my (stationary) cycling improving, but my gait normalized. No more lifting the hip when I walked, the stride was normal. I could actually run a few steps now before the clonus (muscle shaking ) kicked in. As the weeks passed, that too lessened and I can now sprint 100 yards before the clonus interferes with my stride. I believe that the PowerCranks have helped get me to this place where I can now start working on running again - I'll be moving to the treadmill after the holidays, and have entered the 2013 Richmond Marathon as my goal for the coming year.
I would recommend PowerCranks to folks who need to rehab a leg following a stroke. Every MD and Rehab person I'd spoken with said the same thing - that there needs to be repetitive exercise with good resistance. My PT essentially recommended PowerCranks without knowing of their existence - by putting me on a stationary bike and having me do one-legged pedaling on that awkward machine. I'm grateful for PowerCranks and I know they have made a huge difference in my recovery
[NOTE: If I had this to do all over again, I would have purchased the cranks with the lockout option. I would love to take the bike off the trainer and ride outdoors again, but I live in a pretty hilly area, and standing up in PowerCranks is (at least to me), an impossibility. So, I either have to have the cranks replaced to ride outdoors, or keep it in the trainer and stay inside.]
[addendum] When I wrote to you back in July, I wrote, "When I run, I can go a few
strides, then my foot drag messes things up." Later on, I could go farther, but it was not real "running" - I looked at the increased distance I could travel before my left leg locked up completely as my "progress". It was progress - decreased clonus and increased strength - but it was something between hobbling and jogging. Yesterday, I beat my 7-year old daughter in a full-out sprint on a soccer field. My wife said my running looked completely normal!
It was after using the cranks 3-4 times/weekly for an hour each session, where I can actually call what I do "running". And my walking gait is normal. I can go down flights of stairs, quickly too - something I couldn't do several months ago.
I'd entered the Richmond Marathon for 2012, but that not in the cards. I moved my entry to 2013 and am confident that by November of next year, that I'll complete the marathon. I am absolutely sure that the cranks have given me the strength and coordination to get to this point.
I'd been told in the hospital and during rehab, that the majority of the improvement will be in the 3 months following the stroke. I did make a lot of progress then, but it hasn't stopped - I see improvement each week. I know once I start treadmill work, with PowerCranks a couple times/week, that getting back to running will just be a matter of time and effort.