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  1. #1
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    May. 21, 2006
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    Default Experience with loss of movement, rehab and return to riding. MAGNETIC STIRRUP ?ADDED

    I have been thinking for a while about posting about this and have finally decided to write it out.

    On september 20th, I was at the barn folding laundry around 8:30 AM, when it felt like I had sand in my shoe. I sat down only to discover nothing in my shoe. Ok, my foot's just asleep for some reason. I didn't think anything of it, but by 9:00ish, my calf had begun to feel like it was falling asleep. Still, I ignored it and started getting a horse ready for my boss. Midway through, I developed a sharp pain in the back of my neck, and the tingling feeling had worked its way up to my hip. By this point I was starting to freak out a little bit and decided I needed to go to the doctor.

    My (wonderful) boyfriend came to get me and we went to patient first, where they thought maybe a pinched nerve. They prescribed Prednisone and sent me on my way with instructions to come back in a couple days if it wasn't better. Well once I was home I couldn't get comfortable, but finally fell asleep around 1PM. When I woke up an hour later, the numbness had worked its way all the way up my right side, including my arm, and it was becoming increasingly difficult to walk. I decided it was time to go to the ER.

    Once in the ER i was taken for an MRI, where it was discovered that I had a Cavernoma on my spinal cord that had burst. A Cavernoma is basically a collection of blood vessels that looks a little like a blackberry. In some cases, they burst and cause bleeding and swelling. This is what was causing the loss of sensation and movement. By the time I was admitted to the hospital just before midnight, I could no longer walk.

    Originally, the plan was to watch the bleeding for about a week to see if it stopped before making a decision about surgery. However, another MRI showed that the bleeding had gotten worse, and the decision to do surgery was made. By the time of surgery on September 24th, I had almost no mobility on the right side and limited mobility on the left side. My surgeon scared the bejesus out of my mom by telling her my cavernoma was in the same location as Christopher Reeve's injury, even though they were entirely different problems.

    Fast forward a few days. I began to regain some movement in my left arm and leg. On October 4th, exactly two weeks almost to the hour from going to the ER, I was admitted to a rehab facility. I am getting 3 hours of therapy per day - 1 1/2 occupational therapy and 1 1/2 physical therapy.

    This facility has done a wonderful job. I can see improvements almost every day. My left arm and hand are at almost normal functionality. My right arm, which I couldn't move at all, now can be raised to about shoulder level and i can grasp somethings, although it is still difficult. My right leg has decent sensation and mobility is getting better all the time. The left leg, which has been stronger the whole time, still has basically no sensation. I am walking short distances with the help of a walker and someone helping to support me. The doctors and therapists are all very positive in their hopes of me regaining most, if not all, of my normal functions.

    This has all been a pretty big blow to me. I am 23 years old, very i dependent and active. I was working at a show barn, 6 or 7 days a week, often 12 hour days. Often longer when traveling to shows. I have been confined to a bed and wheelchair for the past two months. My discharge date has been set for just before Christmas, with outpatient therapy continuing after that. My plan is to be back on a horse ASAP. my boss' plan is for me to be able to head to Ocala with her at the end of January, even just to drive the golf cart and be the photographer! I try to stay positive and not dwell on the "what ifs", but sometimes it's hard.

    Has anyone had any similar experiences with loss of movement and a return to riding? Even if not, it's been mice to write out the whole story.
    Last edited by Sarah616; Jun. 6, 2014 at 01:13 PM.



  2. #2
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    Jan. 7, 2007
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    Default

    I would look for a therapeutic riding center and sign up for their program.



  3. #3
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    Mar. 8, 2004
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    Baltimore, MD
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    I think your age works in your favor. Keep working hard and this will eventually be a bad memory from the sounds of it. Jingles for a complete recovery! Your boss sounds like a good one.



  4. #4
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    May. 23, 2009
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    MA
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    Sarah - so sorry to hear this. It almost sounded like a stroke. I had a stroke on my left brain with my right side going "dead" or numb.

    I was a lucky one and got the tPI drip which helped so much. However, I was not good. I struggled a lot and eventually got to the barn. My daughter and my very good horse managed to get me up top for a minute. but it was scary as I had lost some of my sense of balance. My neurologist told me to ride, either my horse of a therapy horse!

    I would go to the barn, almost crawling to get my horse, tack him up and ride. eventually it got so much better!

    I know that my situation is not like yours, but the more you do, I believe the more you will get back. and being young and in shape has to help!

    good luck!



  5. #5
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    May. 21, 2006
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    Virginia
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    I'm plotting my return to riding... Im hopefully getting discharged just before christmas and it might be the best gift of all to get on a horse. We have just the pony for it - total deadhead appy pony that i rode when i was 7... My boss' daughter learned to jump on him when she was about 5 (he even went to culpeper and swan lake for short stirrup) and now her 2 year old son has started being lead around on him.

    I am getting lots of movement back, but it's both encouraging and a little disheartening that walking 120 feet at one time is a "woo hoo" moment.


    1 members found this post helpful.

  6. #6
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    May. 23, 2009
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    MA
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    YAY Sarah - any movement is great!!! you will work up to longer and longer periods!

    are the PT'ers giving you plasticine to play with? this will help your hands and you can do this in between PT. Imbed coins in the plasticine and pick them out - another trick!

    the pony sounds like a cutie!!! and not too large maybe?



  7. #7
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    Jul. 3, 2013
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    I think you are wonderfully brave. I had a heart attack three years ago and horses have helped me heal. Don't push too hard and give yourself a break. I took lessons from my old trainer who knew me well. She really helped me to accept and slowly return to riding. Take one day at a time. I am grateful for every moment I have with horses. A Therapeutic riding center (as spotted draft x filly suggested) is a great idea. Often they have medical people who work with the riders.



  8. #8
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    May. 21, 2006
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    Virginia
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    Little update. The past few days I've walked about 250 feet with a regular walker, with someone helping me. Yesterday I walked without any body weight support and without my therapist holding on to me, just walking next to me in case i lost my balance. It was pretty exciting because this is a HUGE step towards walking independently. My go home date is set for next weekend! Let the counting down begin!


    1 members found this post helpful.

  9. #9
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    Mar. 8, 2004
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    Baltimore, MD
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  10. #10
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    Aug. 9, 2007
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    Quote Originally Posted by spotted draft x filly View Post
    I would look for a therapeutic riding center and sign up for their program.
    I assuming you will still be getting PT and/or OT services if you head down to FL? Depending on what your script is for (number of times of each therapy per week) you could always find a farm that offers equine assisted occupational or physical therapy (hippotherapy). I know the term therapeutic riding gets confusing, this is riding for people with disabilities/acquired neurological injuries. However, you are looking for rehabilitation, not an adaptive sport.

    Your ultimate goal is to return to riding like before (which seem totally reasonable). The reason I suggest possible equine assisted therapy/hippotherapy is that the amount of neuromotor based repetitions is beyond what you will get in a clinic, plus is you have your boss/trainer come along they can provide you will home-based exercises (aka you can do it on her/your horses) and even improve the process. I really feel your overall walking distance and endurance will improve greatly if you couple the horse with a great therapist.

    I have worked with a few clients with similar conditions and all of them returned to their previous abilities, one had some decreased sensation still but it did not stop her from doing anything!



  11. #11
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    Nov. 10, 2002
    Location
    NC
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    Default balance balls exercises

    ...for balance and core strengthening and for body positioning. All these will help when it comes time to actually mount up. I wouldn't be a bit surprised that these exercises don't actually accelerate your progress.

    Good luck and keep us posted on your progress. I hope it goes well for you!
    "It's not a mistake if you knew what you were doing was wrong."



  12. #12
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    Jun. 8, 2012
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    NOVA
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sarah616 View Post
    Little update. The past few days I've walked about 250 feet with a regular walker, with someone helping me. Yesterday I walked without any body weight support and without my therapist holding on to me, just walking next to me in case i lost my balance. It was pretty exciting because this is a HUGE step towards walking independently. My go home date is set for next weekend! Let the counting down begin!
    That's amazing Sarah! Congratulations... step by step, right?

    Quote Originally Posted by hca86 View Post
    I assuming you will still be getting PT and/or OT services if you head down to FL? Depending on what your script is for (number of times of each therapy per week) you could always find a farm that offers equine assisted occupational or physical therapy (hippotherapy).

    ... Your ultimate goal is to return to riding like before (which seem totally reasonable). The reason I suggest possible equine assisted therapy/hippotherapy is that the amount of neuromotor based repetitions is beyond what you will get in a clinic, plus is you have your boss/trainer come along they can provide you will home-based exercises (aka you can do it on her/your horses) and even improve the process. I really feel your overall walking distance and endurance will improve greatly if you couple the horse with a great therapist.
    I love therapy specific to our sport as many things about riding are so unique.... and also for longer term rehab lets face it everything's better with horses.
    You don't scare me. I ride a MARE!



  13. #13
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    May. 21, 2006
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    Virginia
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    Friday is the big day!!!! My boyfriend, who is in idaho for a job, happens to be flying home for christmas and gets in that day too.

    Walked 330 feet yesterday without stopping. It seems so silly to think of that as a lot when i would normally walk all over the show grounds, but i have to keep it in perspective i guess.



  14. #14
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    May. 21, 2006
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    Virginia
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    I am home! I think i've walked more since being home than ever in therapy. It's been so nice have more than a 15'x15' room to stare at all day (that's being generous.) I was at the barn for about 3 hours yesterday watching lessons and trying to take pictures because it was GORGEOUS out. Out patient therapy starts tomorrow. I didn't get on a horse yesterday but i certainly wanted to after watching everyone!



  15. #15
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    May. 21, 2006
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    Virginia
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    Well, I've been home a little over 2 weeks now. I'm getting around fairly well with my walker, and have started working with a cane in therapy. I've been out to the barn a few times. I haven't gotten on the horse yet, but stood up out of my wheelchair to pet my horse. I want to go on a day or at a time without a lot of people there so I can try standing and brushing a horse. (I don't like a lot of people being around when I'm trying something new.) When my boyfriend was home we went to the movies, which was nice.

    However, now that he's back in Idaho, I haven't gotten out as much. I'm not a family person, so being stuck in my parents' house all the time is really getting to me. I know they're worried and trying to help me, but I've always had a hard time accepting help, and this is no different.

    That being said, I'm having a harder and harder time keeping the bad thoughts away. The "why me?" and "what if I don't get better?" and other questions and bad thoughts keep creeping in. I've been doing a lot of sleeping, simply due to boredom and lack of activity. We're getting closer to winter circuit time; I should be getting ready to go work in Ocala, not sitting around my house. I know that we keep seeing improvement, and I've known it's going to be a long road to recovery, but I want to be better NOW, damnit! I'm not very patient.

    Also, my hair is falling out. I'm assuming from stress and meds. I had very thick hair to begin with, and can stand to lose a little, but not at this rate.



  16. #16
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    Dec. 30, 2013
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    Ontario
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    Hi Sarah.

    I don't have the same experience as you, but I do have a similar one.

    I have cerebral palsy but I also have an autoimmune disease that attacks my brain and leaves me with varying physical symptoms. Last May I went to try a new treatment for it and ended up triggering a flare instead. Within 30 minutes I went from sitting in my wheelchair to being on the floor, writhing around in full body spasms. What followed was a month long hospital admission while I slowly regained some use of my arms. This is the shortened version but before it I could move about on crutches and take steps and stand and now I cannot. I'm in my chair full time and likely will never functioning like that again.

    Getting back on my horse has helped so much. It sucks that I am not totally dependent on others to put his saddle and bridle on, I need help to get on and off, and I need help with other things here and there around the farm. Having said that, being part of a wonderful community that does help me is totally invaluable.

    As someone who needs lots of help in my day to day, from everything like getting dressed to get a saddle on my horse to food prep help - accept it. I know it's hard to learn to that but it's a lesson that we all need to learn. Accepting help doesn't make you less independent. It makes you MORE independent. Accepting help where you need it allows you to do everything else that you can do on your own. If you don't accept the help, you are stuck and can't do anything else either.

    My best advice is to become an active participant in receiving help. Self-direct the help as that is empowering and you can maintain control. What I mean by that is tell people how to help you - not in a bossy way of course. If someone is helping you get dressed for example, you can say "first put my right leg in and then the left. Okay, next I'm going to roll to the right and I will get you to pull up the left side is that okay?" It helps a lot to feel in control and feel empowered.

    I also prefer the word "support" to "help". They are supporting you to do what you need and want to. That's all

    I'm 24 and all of my neuro stuff and the admission happened when I was 23 as well so I do get it. I get how hard it is to accept support from parents too. They have so many emotions tied up in it and it's not easy!!!! Feel free to PM me or we can talk here too. I'm happy to answer any questions. Keep with your PT/OT and get on that appy!



  17. #17
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    May. 21, 2006
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    Virginia
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    Jkbenny, thanks for sharing your story. You seem like such an upbeat, positive person!

    I keep trying to figure out how and when to get on the horse. I know climbinging the mounting block and swinging my leg over is going to be the hardest part, so I keep waiting until i get stronger.



  18. #18
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    Dec. 30, 2013
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    Ontario
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    Thank you I try to be, but I definitely have my "I hate the world, why did this happen to me, I'm only 24 and I just want to have fun like my friends and not go to PT" moments. At least one a day! My disease makes me very fatigued and I sleep a lot some weeks, this week has been quite bad. It frustrates me for sure but riding helps so much. Even on days when I feel miserable I make myself go out to the barn unless it's really bad. I had to take a few weeks off in October and I'm lucky that if I can't do my lesson my coach will use it as a training ride so my horse didn't suffer but It was so hard for me to stay away from the barn for that long!

    Climbing up the mounting block and swinging your leg over will be hard. Yes. Do you have a table or something you could bring into the ring that would give you extra height? Regardless, do you have crutches you can use? Here's how I get on...

    I can only lift my right leg so I use it to step up each step and then pull my left leg up behind it, using my crutches as support. Once at the top I had my crutches to whoever is helping me and lean on my horse for support and balance (I cannot stand unsupported) from there I use my hands to lift my left leg into the stirrup. Once it's in I hold onto the saddle (a dressage saddle) by the pommel and cantle and then I pull myself up. I have spasms so I essentially trigger a spasm in my right leg so it holds straight and swing it around. Then someone else puts my foot in the stirrup. I can't do it myself so if I lose either stirrup while riding someone else needs to put my foot back in for me.

    That's just how I do it. You can also have someone else help you get the right leg over.

    Most people will dismount to the block. Either by themselves or with the support of someone to get their right leg back over. I don't. I would but the block at my current barn is in the corner and small. I also need to dismount to my chair because my legs are so spasmy at the end that I can't even use my crutches. I can't get my chair across the arena dirt so I dismount to the ground and hold onto to the saddle for support as I do so and then someone helps position my chair behind me and I fall back into it.

    The key the first few times is to have 3 people to help you. 1 to hold the horse and 2 to support you, just in case. Once you have a system down pat you can reduce how many people are needed and such.

    It's totally normal to be nervous about getting on again. It's been hard for me because I can't do what I could before. I get so frustrated some days because I can't kick or use leg anymore. In my head I am thinking "squeeze" but my body can't do it. I'm lucky to have an amazing coach who is so supportive and who understands my frustration. She's always positive, even in giving corrections, and I'm really lucky to have her! You definitely need good supportive people around you as you recover and people who are going to celebrate all of your small improvements and accomplishments both mounted and on the ground!

    I hope some of this helps. Again feel free to ask questions if you think I can help



  19. #19

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    I just saw this thread - you have been through a lot the past few months, kudos for pushing through! Ocala sounds like fun.

    You're right, mounting/dismounting is the hardest. As jkbenny said, something wider and taller than a typical three step plastic mounting block would be helpful. If your right side is stronger, consider mounting from the off-side, as well, instead of the left.

    You might also try a crest mount, depending on where your mobility issues are. At the top of the mounting block, with someone holding the horse, someone spotting on the offside, and someone behind you on the mounting block, sit sideways on the horse, facing the mounting block - like you are about to ride sidesaddle. With the offside person supporting your back so you don't fall backwards, bring your right leg (or left, if you are mounting from the offside) over the neck of the horse. And like jkbenny said, they may have to help get your leg over - as long as it's not hurting, let them! If you want to try bareback and have a really steady-eddy horse with several people to spot and help you, it is also possible to lie on your belly over their back, shift to lie along the neck, bring the leg over, and then sit up ...

    Reverse for dismount, and make sure the person on the side you are dismounting to is someone you are comfortable with in case they need to "catch" you on the way down. Basically, as long as you have friends to help spot you, don't be afraid to think outside the box! Figure out what will work the best for you and make sure to tell the people helping you "this hurts, that's ok, this makes me uncomfortable, I feel off balance, etc."

    If you are worried about body mechanics/strength the first few times you ride and would be interested in getting professional help with the riding side of things, there are a lot of really great therapeutic riding/hippotherapy facilities in FL and around Ocala. Hippotherapy basically means a pt or ot session on the horse - not working on riding skills, just using the horse as a therapeutic tool. More fun that going into the doctor's office. A therapeutic riding instructor (and yes, there are therapeutic riding facilities that do w/t/c and jump) is "recreational" in nature, not clinically therapeutic, and would talk to you about your goals, your previous riding experience, where you want to get back to, etc and then come up with a plan to help you meet those riding goals - and they are often willing to coordinate exercises with your pt/ot, etc. They would also be able to help you build up muscle strength and balance safely. A few sessions could help you start to figure out how to adapt to your body changes and give you things to work with on your horse and your trainer back home. I do realize therapeutic riding is not for everyone, but it is something to consider.

    Good luck and keep us updated!



  20. #20
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    Dec. 30, 2013
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    Ontario
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    If you're at the right place therapeutic riding can be great! When i was getting back into things after a 6 year break I rode at a therapeutic facility that had the quiet, tolerant, horses and I figured things out there before hoping back on my own. Totally worth it. It was a facility that was cool with W/T/C and I could actually ride. Some places won't allow it and no matter what it is a leader and side walkers and that's that. If you already have access to a really quite horse and supportive people on the ground, may not be necessary though! It sounds like you do have those things.

    I think the above mounting suggestions are great ones too!



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