Saturday, September 30, 2006

Robb wants me to call this entry "Robb is a Spaz"

When I get home at the end of the day, Robb tends to be "finished" for the day. Either he has worked with the therapist, or he has been to the therapy gym. In either case, he tends to be experiencing spasticity, and is having trouble walking.

I've been trying to get a handle on what, exactly, spasticity is, and why Robb is having so much of it lately. When Robb stretches his body, one things that happens is "neural glide." The un-elastic nerve cells are encased in a sort of sheath, and when Robb stretches, they get slide around inside of the neural sheath.

Think if your leg inside of your pants leg. Your clothing protects your leg, and your leg has the ability to shift and move inside of your pants. So, now imagine if there was portion of your pants leg that was damaged, either too tight, or too stiff. You still had to walk, but the pants chafed at your leg. This is sort of what is happening when Robb stretches and moves his leg muscles. The neural sheath irritates the nerve cells and as a result, Robb experiences spasticity.

So, that's an over-simplified explanation of the "why" of spasticity.

The "what" is more difficult.

When Robb is experiencing spasticity, he has a sensation of having an over-worked muscle that is clenched and that won't un-clench. He can't move the muscles very much, and they are very tired.

In Robb's case, he experiences this sensation in his lower legs, hamstrings and his butt. Because of the muscle clenching, he can barely lift his legs, and more importantly, he cannot "stride out." If Robb chose to dress as a zombie for Halloween this year, he would have a perfect walk for the costume.

Ironically, it is Robb's increased physical activity that is causing or at least aggrievating this spasticity. I just wish that my schedule allowed me to see him at the therapists, where he is having a lot of successes.


Anonymous said...

It's all about the body relearning things that have been interrupted. What amazes me is the tenacity of the human body and human spirit. Lisa, just wrap him in gauze, give him a paper bag and send him on his way October 31..or whenever your area gets the little goblins out. Being able to laugh is a great healer too.

Anonymous said...

Lisa... your explanation is uncannily accurate! May I use it to explain things to some of my patients?


ajt said...

when I learned about myelin sheath last year, they explained it as the covering on a data or telephone cable, protecting the information flowing inside. In some neural diseases and problems, it's like your cat has chewed off the insulation, and you get static or info problems due to that lack of protection.

Lisa and Robb said...

Maybe we could combine the two analogies and talk about what would happen if your cat chewed up part of your pants leg....

Anonymous said...

So, Robb is a butt-twicher? My family warned me about those guys. Maybe he can get a job with the circus, twitching for the crowds. Perhaps, he can listen to lots of heavy metal music and learn to twitch to the beat, thus providing you with lots of opportunity for video clips. If my own butt were a-twitchen', my cat would think I was the newest toy in town and would loose no opportunity to pounce on me, repeatedly.

The idea about dressing up as a mummy or a zombie is a good idea for Halloween. Heck, I'd say, why wait for Halloween, do it now! I just don't know what color bandages fashionable mummies wear after Labor day. Also, I'd tend to think that homeland security looks down on mummy garb when traveling through airports.



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