Earlier today a friend, who experienced a stroke, sent me a Facebook message.
In the Facebook message, he asked me, “Can you give me some tips to learn how to walk again?
To offer the information within my articles to individuals who learn through watching and listening, I created a video presentation of the article.
Click on this link to watch the video presentation: Learning to Walk Again after Experiencing a Stroke/Brain Injury Video Presentation Episode 376
My Experience with Learning how to Walk Again after My Brain Injury
At the age of 10 in 1967, I sustained an open skull fracture, a severe traumatic brain injury, right frontal lobe damage, a severe brain bruise with brain stem involvement and a fractured left femur (thigh bone).
After being in traction for 7-8 weeks (for my fractured left femur) I was placed in a full body cast, in which I remained for 5 months. I was then transferred via an ambulance to another hospital to undergo brain surgery.
After the surgery, I was returned to the previous hospital and then after a time, home. After my left femur healed enough to be taken out of the Spica cast I had to relearn how to walk.
To read more about my process of learning how to walk again, click on this link: Finding Craig — Learning to Walk Again.
Principles that Helped Me Learn how to Walk and Succeed
Learning to walk again is a process. Below are principles that I shared with my friend. Principles that helped, unbeknowst to me at the time, learn to walk.
Principles that continue to help me to achieve goals that may seem to be out of reach.
When I first started training at the martial arts school in May 2000, my Sensei (instructor) shared something with me. He told me that he would give me ingredients (like the ingredients needed to bake a cake) through teaching me how to execute different skills.
He told me that my job was to learn how to combine those skills (ingredients) to bake a cake.
The cake (becoming a black belt). In my experience, learning those skills and combining them took a very long time. More time than it took other students to combine their ingredients to bake their cake. But I am glad that I did not give up.
A significant life-changing lesson (a huge spiritual awakening) that I learned through my training and developing as a martial artist was that the process and journey are more important than the destination.
I was also told that a “belt” you wear in class is merely something to hold your pants up.
I was told that learning skills and being able to execute those skills was more important than the color of a belt.
The color of the belt holding up my pants up.
And so I began to realize and apply this lesson in other areas of my life.
What I learn on the way to achieving my goal is more important than the goal.
The Good News
“The journey of a thousand miles begins with the first step. Once we start walking (metaphorically speaking) before long we will be able to look back and see how far we have come because we did not give up.” Craig J. Phillips MRC, BA
A Riddle and an Elephant
I like another riddle. How do you eat an elephant? The answer to the riddle is, one bite at a time.” If I look at the size of the elephant I can feel overwhelmed and as a result and want to give up.
But if I look at the elephant in terms of consuming the elephant in manageable bites my feelings of being overwhelmed by the size of the elephant diminishes, one bite at a time.
Please read my article: Neuroplasticity, Small Successes, Learning and Relearning Skills.
One Bite at a Time
Because I had difficulty with balance when I first started training at the martial art school I needed to develop a plan to improve my balance. What I realized was that I needed to strengthen my leg muscles. I needed to strengthen my legs to be able to combine “ingredients” to be successful.
By combining skills and skill set we begin to create new neural pathways and brain reorganization.
In the event that you have not walked since your stroke or brain injury, I would encourage you to start a program. Start a program to strengthen your thigh muscles and your hamstrings (muscles on the back of your thigh), as well as your calves (lower leg) muscles. This may take time for you as it did for me when I was learning to walk again. As your legs grow stronger so will your balance.
In my experience, I had to work at the process every day, a little at a time at my rate and pace. And as with my case in learning to walk, it may hurt. But do not give up on the process. Little by little your legs will strengthen and your balance will improve.
I still work on strengthening my legs and improving my balance some 50 years after learning how to walk again. I had a limp for a long while after I started to walk gain, as my left leg is shorter from being in the full body cast for 5 months.
Make your processs of re-learning to walk after a stroke or a brain injury about an adventure.
Enjoy the process.
Achieving Goals Takes Time
Please realize that the process may take time. You may have setbacks, as I did and do when seeking to achieve goals in my life. But, please do not let that discourage you, my friend, and don’t give up.
I like a quote by Albert Einstein. He said, “It is not that I am so smart, I just stay with problems longer.” Persistence and tenacity, no matter how small the progress or gains need to keep you motivated.
Celebrating the Process
In my experience, I have found that if I take the process of achieving goals in small bites then I am able to celebrate the progress that I make in achieving those goals.
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