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How my brain injury affects my walking and balance
Day 197: Sunday 16th September 2018

It’s been over 6 months since my failed surfing on snow attempt gave me a brain injury, post-concussion syndrome. I use my blog and YouTube channel to share my recovery journey and now for the first time I’m going to show you how my brain injury affects my mobility.

 

 

I’m not sure why I haven’t shared this on video before. I know how it felt the first time I caught sight of my reflection when I was using my walking stick. It was so far apart from the reflection that I’m used to. It was a shadow of the energetic, mountain-climbing, fitness lover and always on the go person that I know. It didn’t look like me and I didn’t like to see myself that way. So whether I deliberately hid that part of me from my videos I’m not sure.

I realised recently when chatting to a friend that I’d been hiding that part of me for whatever reason. Whether it’s because I felt ashamed of my abilities or didn’t want to accept my reality I don’t know. I do know that I don’t want to hide it anymore. If I’m going to share the story of my recovery journey, it’s important for me to wear my big brave girl pants and show you the full story.

So here’s a video of me showing how my balance and walking are affected on a regular day before my symptoms get bad.

 

 

 

 

I can’t stand with my feet together

Since my accident my doctor has been testing my balance so I do it too at home. He gets me to stand with my feet together and my eyes closed. At one point in my recovery I was over the moon because I was able to hold my balance for 5 seconds.

Look how excited I am in this video!

 

 

That was months ago on day 55 and now I sway right away. You’d think that it would be better with my eyes open but it’s not.

 

Post-concussion syndrome has made my brain forget how to walk properly

I know that there’s a disconnect somewhere between what I want my legs to do and what they actually do. My brain has forgotten how to walk properly so my feet don’t land where I want them to, my knees buckle when I walk and my feet drag along the ground. My right leg is worse. It happens regularly and even though I tell myself to lift my legs higher it doesn’t make any difference.

A lot of my walking problem comes from my noise sensitivity. Essentially my brain struggles to cope with noise so traffic and conversations around me make it very difficult for my brain. When there’s too much information coming in with the sensory overload my brain can’t figure out how to deal with that so it becomes even more of a struggle to put one foot in front of the other.

Once there’s too much stimulation it makes all my other symptoms worse and it’s game over for the day and can often take days to get back to where I was before. This includes slowed speech, inability to think and headaches which is why I avoid a lot of things that I used to take for granted. Until we can get my noise sensitivity under control it’s far easier for me to use avoidance tactics. I just don’t want to set my recovery back. I’ve learnt the hard way.

It gets a lot worse than you see in the video but when my symptoms are bad the last thing I want to be doing is having that filmed.

 

My flat is my safe space

In my flat I can control the noise and lighting and I know the layout so I think that makes it easier for my brain and a little easier to walk there. I only have the TV on if I’m going to sit down and watch it and it’s on a really low volume. If ever there’s a need for super-sonic hearing I’m your gal!

Outside it gets a lot harder for my brain to process all the information around me but I’m hopeful I’ll be able to overcome my problems as my brain recovers.

 

Anne Johnston holding purple walking stick outdoors

 

 

My physiotherapist is helping me learn how to walk again

There is good news though as I now have a physiotherapist who started working with me this week.

We’re hoping that by doing basic exercises 2-3 times a day I can strengthen my legs and gradually teach my brain the movements that it needs to go through to walk properly. She came to see me at home and soon I’ll be going to the physiotherapy gym where we can build on my exercises and there’s bars I can use to help me walk.

We had a giggle as she asked me what my goal is and I said I want to climb a mountain. In my head that will happen one day even if it seems so far away right now. I have to believe that it will happen again.

For now though if I can work towards walking without needing my walking stick that would be a huge step forward.

 

Over to you, warriors!

Has your brain injury affected your mobility or sensitivity to noise? What’s been useful for you with your recovery?

Pop into the comments and let me know.

I know how incredibly scary life can be when you’re living with PCS but I don’t want you to feel alone. I’ve got your back and if you need to chat any time, please get in touch. You’ll also find me sharing my journey daily on Instagram so feel free to connect and say Hi!

And remember, you’re not broken, you’re finding your sparkle so do something every day that makes you happy!

Much love,

AJ x

PS Don’t forget to click the link below to get the next instalment of my blog!

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