That Time I Broke My Knee

NEUROREHAB Blog - knee photo1.jpg

For some reason, I think the universe feels the need to:

a. Teach me how to rehab nearly every injury conceivable through personal experience.
b. Keep me humble.
c. Remind me that when one body part isn’t working, you can always work something else.
d. All of the above.

In a recent non-MS-related fall straight down on my knee cap, I fractured my patella. The good news is that I don’t need surgery. The bad news is that it will take another 4-8 weeks to fix itself and stop hurting. The bad news is that it’s on my “bad” MS-affected leg, so it’s the side I’m always worried about losing function. The good news is that all tendons are intact, because if they weren’t, it would be a much longer recovery time. The bad news is that I can’t walk up stairs with that leg and my house is three stories, without a bathroom on the main floor. The good news is that I have pretty decent bladder control, despite occasional neurological urinary urgency. The bad news is that I am questioning my decision as to whether taking adult gymnastics at age 41 is a bad idea. 

The best takeaway here is that I know that I can rehab this. Regular muscle atrophy from lack of use is a piece of cake. Actually, often in neurological illnesses, what we see is normal muscle atrophy from lack of use – and regardless whether the condition is MS, stroke, Parkinson’s, etc., we can help get muscles stronger just by exercising them. I might not be able to exercise my leg that much now, but in a month, I’ll just step up my leg workouts.

The other good lesson here is that when something needs a break (like a broken knee), it’s a great opportunity to focus on training something else (in my case, my pull up game). 

If you have a client who is capable of doing an exercise, challenge them by giving it to them, even if it’s a modification. And if they can’t, remember that developing global strength can help a person with any degree of neurological weakness get around more easily. 

In health, 

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