How to Go from Wheelchair Dependence to Biking, Part 1

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When I began my physical rehabilitation program, I did not expect to recover. I knew that progressive multiple sclerosis is progressive, and that most people experience 10 to 25% worsening of function year after year. I did all that I could–working with a physical therapist (PT) three times a week and spending hours each day at home on the program my PT had designed for me—expecting the best I could do was slow my decline. It turned out I was able to achieve remarkable gains in mobility, far beyond any I could have dreamed of. In the next series of articles, I will explain how you too could experience improvement in your strength, endurance, and coordination. Even if you have had damage to your brain or spinal cord as a result of a stroke, progressive MS, or other neurologic diseases, you can achieve gains in your strength and movement. If you want to improve your endurance or coordination, read on.

In less than a year, I went from being unable to sit up for longer than 10 minutes, struggling with brain fog, needing two walking sticks to walk 10 feet, and suffering from intense electrical zings of face pain due to trigeminal neuralgia to completing an 18.5-mile bike ride with my family. My brain fog was gone. So was my pain. I was able to walk through the hospital, growing steadily stronger and stronger.  

Many of you are like me—you want very much to restore your physical strength, coordination, and endurance, but feel discouraged. No one thinks you can get stronger.

But I’m here to tell you it can be done.

We have observed it in our clinical trials.

So have other researchers.

Do not give up hope.

It will take work, but it is possible.

First, your muscle fibers must be forced to contract and do work. Additionally, the connection between your brain and your muscles must be strengthened—this will help stop muscle damage. Exercise and electrical stimulation of muscles (E-stim) can help you grow your muscles and strengthen the connection between them and your brain.

You can get stronger. Others have been successful–you can be successful too. I will share more information on this process in the next article.

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