Earlier this week I was asked to see another patient with a spinal cord injury. A few months ago, he fell into a well. Now he can't walk. But he came to our hospital because he's been laying on a mat on the floor of his house since his accident and in turn, developed pressure ulcers.
The good news is, his family has plastic arm chairs. The bad news is, it's too high for him to get into. Or, at least that's what he thought three days ago.
We've been working on triceps strengthening and increased trunk balance. But until today, we've only been able to work bedside . . . so there's only so much we can do.
The plan was to put him in a wheel chair and bring him to the therapy office.
But we didn't have time.
So we went with Plan B: put him on the floor.
Using a bed sheet, we lowered him to the ground. As he sat there gaining his balance, we explained that over the next week or so we were going to teach him how to get into his chair so that he get off the floor. While he was excited about the prospect, he was a bit anticipatory about the process.
I placed wooden blocks slightly behind his elbows. 'Put your hands up here' I told him as I knelt on the floor behind him.
We were in the middle of the room, my back was to the door. All I could see were the eight other people in the room.
As he continued his exercises, I explained the how's and why's to my new sidekick, B. I explained the reason for the placement of the blocks . . . the rotation of the scapulae as our patient did his push-ups . . . why I was sitting where I was sitting, and how much help I was giving . . . and how to recognize the physical symptoms of fatigue, even when the patient says he's not tired.
By the time we had finished all our exercises . . . and our guy was pretty wiped out, I stood up and went to his feet to lift him back into bed.
The doorway was packed with onlookers. They had squeezed in through the door and were spilling into the room.
'Oh, look. The whole world has been watching us' I said to B.
'They've never seen this before . . . it's something new' he shrugged.
I laughed. 'Exercises?' I asked.
'No. A white girl sitting on the floor!'