Overcoming Paralysis: Did You Do Your Therapy Homework?

Jeffrey A. Morse | Finding Forward |

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How many times has a therapist given you homework exercises you promised to do with all the best intentions and in moderation until your next appointment?

Did you actually do them?

Sometimes, the mindset of having to do something you feel isn’t that important occurs because you can’t see or imagine the benefit.

Living in a fast-paced world and a society full of quick fixes makes it difficult to do therapy at times on our own.

We typically have many other distractions in our lives like our cellphones, our jobs, or the television that we feel outweigh the importance of our recovery. Steering yourself in a new direction to accomplish the goal of doing therapy at home means that you must set those other distractions aside. The trick is to convince yourself that this new routine is more fun than those that are already established.

Imagine this break as a mini-vacation from your normal everyday habits to focus first on relaxing and calming your body from the pain and trauma of an injury or other afflictions. Yes, it means that you have to give in to slowing down. However, like anything else that’s new, the more you practice, the easier relaxing becomes. Examples of calming techniques are meditation, yoga, or massage therapy. Now that you’re calm, you can focus on the therapy exercises your provider gave you.

The next obstacle to overcome is, why do I need to do this in the first place? Doing therapy at home as you heal from your limitations is your chance to strengthen your body and recover muscle memory to whatever may be injured or weak.

The exercises also assist in loosening up stiff muscle restrictions in your body. Other benefits are communicating your progress effectively, using the homework as a measuring stick on your progress during your next scheduled appointment, and your therapists adjusting your exercises commensurate with your progress. The biggest benefit of all is the sense of accomplishment in getting yourself one step closer to improved independence.

When I first began doing Pilates in my quest to walk better after overcoming paralysis, my instructor gave me two sheets of paper with balancing exercises for me to do at home. I didn’t ask myself why I should do these exercises because I was thinking on a larger scale of how they would eventually benefit my weak body.

Some of the motivations that drove me were:

🌿 Visualizing standing in a shower on my own;

🌿 Stepping in and out of a car;

🌿 Reducing my risk of falling;

🌿 Chasing better posture to reduce my back pain; and

🌿 In general, increasing my quality of life.

Three years later, my life and balance have improved significantly, and I still do those exercises.

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Finding Forward 
Charting Your Journey to Recovery

Jeffrey A. Morse has traveled the world, visited exotic locations, been a sports diver, and had successful careers in both the military and commercial aviation, when one day, an emergency room doctor told him he had both a brain aneurysm and a dissected artery. Surgery was the only option, and his chances of survival were less than 25 percent.

At age forty-nine, during that surgery, he suffered a spinal cord stroke that left him paralyzed. After being told that he would more than likely never walk again, Jeffrey made a vow that he would walk out of the hospital. Six weeks later, he did just that.

His journey has led him to alternative therapies, a healthy lifestyle, and a proactive versus reactive approach to his recovery. It has taken him from that hospital bed to France, and to Nepal, where he paraglided off the top of a mountain and fed a vulture in flight. It has also led him to a new career as an author and motivational speaker.

Jeffrey believes you can overcome any obstacle by taking control of your recovery. Don’t let “I can’t” rule your vocabulary. There are always other options, and you can start a new road and a new life.

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