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Friday, July 1, 2011

The Dynamic DynaSplint

Last Friday (a week ago) I got my DynaSplint. The rep came to the physical therapy office to fit it on me and show me how it works. It didn't take long to get a good fit and I picked up how to put it on and adjust it quickly.

The splint is held in place by four velcro tabs, two above the knee and two below. There is a set of two cams, one on each side of the knee, that assist in applying pressure to the leg, from two linear adjustment pipes below the cams. The rep started my splint out at level 3. She said she starts everyone there. It gives a lot of wiggle room. I am supposed to work up to wearing the splint from six to eight hours a day, preferably while I sleep. With my sleep problems I am not seeing this happen particularly easily. After taking off the splint, my knee is expected to feel stiff for a while. If it is stiff for less than an hour it is time to increase the tension. If it is stiff much longer than an hour or if it causes pain it is time to reduce the tension by a half-step. The goal is to get my knee straight! Zero degrees.

I have been wearing the splint for more than one session per day, and have worked up to about 3-1/2 hours total. Today the level is at six.

Unfortunately, the splint seems to encourage that "restless leg" feeling, so I tend to take it off often. However, I have had some longer stretches of time, asleep, no discomfort. As with everything else, I think the key is to get myself into a good solid sleep, which is much harder than it sounds.

Meanwhile, I continue with therapy as usual, no change. The various machines, then step-ups, maybe some rubber-band sideways steps, some "mobes" to help straighten the knee, then finally the infamous stim machine for fifteen minutes, both legs. All of these activities together, added to the work I do at the gym, should be helping with the straightening as well as the strengthening of the thigh muscles.

I have added a few more exercises to the gym routine after meeting again with Clara last week: rolling my thighs on a foam roll, to massage the soft tissue (pain!) and pressing a 12-lb medicine ball between my legs (quite effective).  I find that I enjoy hanging out on the mat after doing the bike and other machines at the gym. I feel like I can take my time there and get it all done.

I just read the title of an article that says you can do your exercises at home, you don't need a gym. I know that I don't need a gym but I find it much easier to get the work done there than I do at home. It is well worth it to me and I get the added benefit of having others around me encouraging me or offering additional examples of what I might achieve over time. If I devoted as much energy to keeping my house clean it would be some kind of miracle.

My right leg continues to cause me problems, although not all the time. I try not to let it discourage me.

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