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Ok,

We have just taken our new squeaky clean, made to measure legs home for the first time.

We have all had some sort of phsyo and have a lovely set of exercises, which we all promise to do each day till whenever.

So we get home & what do we do?

Myself as I’m not quit right in the head, did all the exercises that were set, but instead of doing 10 I would do 100, ten times a day instead of 3 times a day. (After a few weeks got totally bored and chose to finish them) how long did you last?

I quickly discovered that walking up and down in some stuffy classroom is NO good out there in the real world. So I set about teaching myself how not only how to survive out there but how to make the hole outside world a safe place for me.

On the way I discovered a few tips that might help some other new amps.

We all know walking in the limb centres there are mirrors to look at yourself whilst you are pacing up and down and you can alter your gait accordingly.

Well my fist thing I discovered is get out on an open space with the sun on your back then as you are walking watch your shadow. (Your lopsided its lopsided) you are straight it is straight. Move around so the sun is to your side and watch your shadow as you walk. Same thing applies. Just try to alter your gait just a tiny little bit you can see the results straight away.

I have found I can see more by watching my shadow on the ground than in a mirror why this is I don’t know.

Next tip I live by the sea and we have some wonderfully unspoilt beaches up here.

So Get on the beach when the tides out and the sand are still soft and wet.

Walk along a bit then check your footprints, as an above knee I found that my good leg was leaving a good print but the toe was digging in (in other words it was doing all the work) so change of gait lets pull back on the arty limb a bit, check the results this time good leg wasn’t leaving such a hard imprint but I found that I was leaving a big heel plant on arty leg, try again slightly different again.

If you work on this eventually your footprints will get very similar and guess what your gait will be much better as well.

If you have someone with a camcorder get to film it at each stage you will be surprised what you can learn from it later on, I for one was really surprised.

Other stuff by looking at your tracks you can see straightaway weather you need to turn the foot inwards or outward. (Yes I know that we shouldn’t)

Adjust your foot and re walk it, then look at the results, I have found the closer the footprints match the better /more natural the gait.

This technique is even better when there is a covering of snow on the ground but snow has its very own surprises for us.

These are some methods that I still use today try them. The very worst that can happen is you get some fresh air and exercise.

Has anybody got any secret tips they want to share?

Take care…………………………….. Mick

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IT”S TEMPTING YOU ISN”T IT, THAT “POST REPLY” BUTTON….BUT BEFORE YOU PRESS IT, ASK YOURSELF THIS: “AM I TALKING OUT OF MY ARSE?”

Hi Mick, I will talk from my heart and hope that I don't offend you.

You are a very lucky man indeed to have a socket that does not cause you pain

I find it strange that you should be giving tips to people on how to walk when you openly admit that your gait is terrible.

surely amputees find it very difficult to walk on sand and your equal foot prints tip does not make sense to me.

I think that your prosthetic foot will always leave a greater inprint due to the way the knee and foot work, dependant on which knee and foot you have of course.

The shadow thing also is a bit strange as the shadow that is cast is dependant on many variables. ie, ground level, bumps on the ground, uneven ground, clouds, wind speed moving the clouds, surroundings etc. Try taking a photo of your shadow when you are standing still at intervals of 2 mins and you will see how much it changes even when you are not moving. So how can you use your shadow to watch your gait pattern?

I think that if you believe it helps you then that's fine but I would recommend that people learn the correct method of walking from their physiotherapist. Learn the right techniques from the begining, it's almost impossible to unlearn bad habits.

I do understand what you are trying to say., as you think it has helped you.

I still do my exercises, even after two years, I aslo swim 40 lengths 5 times a week. I do everything in my power the help myself maintain body strength and build up stamina, despite having lots of other problems with all my joints.

Yes, it's a drag, yes it's boring but it is so important to keep doing them. They need to become part of our daily lives, just like brushing our teeth.

If we don't learn to walk correctly in the beginning then we will never walk properly. Walking correctly protects the rest of our body in the long term.

Just my honest opinions and responses to your post.

Lynne

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surely amputees find it very difficult to walk on sand and your equal foot prints tip does not make sense to me.

Lynne

It certainly is quite hard work walking on sand, especially for bilaterals, you walk entirely differently than you would on a regular surface - so it definitely wouldn't be my preferred method of breaking in a brand new pair of limbs.

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I appreciate and agree with what Lynne has said. It's 'horses for courses' and the best way to be able to jump the fences is to get a good foundation...from a physio.

Although having said that, did you know that your tips are actually for the more established amp, Mick? :) So, speaking as one established amp to another, I hope you won't mind me making one or two constructive comments? :unsure:

* Your footprints in sand & mud are a very good layman's version of the pedobarogram - I'm very impressed! B) Although, it will only work if you have normal healthy skeletal, nerve and muscle systems and a well fitting socket. For instance, it won't work on diabetics with a neuropathy or if someone has arthritic changes. Sand will probably be more accurate than mud btw.

* I don't use my shadow, instead I use shop windows...the bigger the better. :D I find that it's a more accurate image and I don't have to crane my neck to see the results.

* The video footage is also a very good tip - excellent in fact!

I would add another two more things to your list:

*If you get the opportunity, watch child amputees at play and see what they get up to. By watching them, you'll see that once you're comfortable in a socket & you've mastered the basics, it's really a matter of confidence.

* If you want to improve your balance, take up a hobby such as jam making (where you have to stand for ages, whilst you concentrate on the jam) or photography (where you have to stay as still as possible, otherwise your images are blurred). The trick is to do something that grabs your attention and keeps your mind occupied, whilst your muscles are doing the boring but essential work.

Lizzie :)

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Sand is a poor test medium as your prosthetic foot is in full metatorsal flexion while your biological foot is not.

I think Mick is talking about wet, firm sand (which I have used as a very rough guide in the past, but then I do have two prosthetic feet :unsure: )...for single amps it should also be good rough guide (e.g. you can tell if you're coming down hard on your heel or toe). Also, what do you understand by the term 'full metatorsal flexion', Joe?

As for spinal nerves, I think I've covered that in my posting and I would imagine that no one would be silly enough to keep walking in a particular way that caused them back pain. If I have any back pain, the first thing I think of is leg length discrepancy and then alignment of my prostheses.

Lizzie :)

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Lizzie,

I still think the type of knee unit you have would effect the imprint, even in wet sand. With the total knee I have to plant my heel in order to lock the knee whilst I roll over the prosthesis, the weight then goes onto the toe and the knee bends again. So either way there has to be more of an imprint from both heel and toe of the prosthesis than there is from the real foot..

Obviously I havent walked on wet sand but I know how it behaves on soft grass.

Lynne

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Lizzie,

I still think the type of knee unit you have would effect the imprint, even in wet sand. With the total knee I have to plant my heel in order to lock the knee whilst I roll over the prosthesis, the weight then goes onto the toe and the knee bends again. So either way there has to be more of an imprint from both heel and toe of the prosthesis than there is from the real foot..

Obviously I havent walked on wet sand but I know how it behaves on soft grass.

Mick should be answering this one too. :)

Lynne, when Mick mentioned the wet sand he was describing 'vaulting', which is one of the major bad habits amps (single amps mainly) do. If you saw the footprints of an amp that was vaulting, you would see that there's a major difference between the footprints...no subtle differences at all. If Mick picked up that he had a problem with vaulting by looking at his footprints, I think it shows remarkable resourcefulness.

I had very little physiotherapy when I was young, so I had to rely on methods like Mick's to improve my gait. I'm not saying that it's ideal, as you should have an experienced physio input too and doing things like looking at footprints in wet sand are more interesting than diagnostic. However, if you have a major gait abnormality (e.g. vaulting) it will pick it up & if you pick it up, once you are an established amp, you should be able to adapt your gait. It's just like a good friend telling you 'Hey, do you know you're spending too long on the ball of your good foot when you're walking?'

Lizzie :)

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I never had any physio, or anyone giving me exercises, watching my gait, advising me, etc ad nauseum.

I think your ideas are very helpful, especially for someone like I used to be. Hell, I didn't even know what a normal gait should be. I thought that as long as I propelled forward, I was doing fine.

Now I know better of course, but physio is still too expensive and out of the question for me.

I reckon I like what you said Mick. And it's good to see someone doing some lateral thinking and putting forward ideas that may quite possibly be very helpful for amps who find themselves flailing alone.

Ally

:)

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Having just re read my post, I must admit I have made a bit of a hash in writing what I meant, however Lizzie is pretty close and no I don’t mind at all you making constructive comments? That what this place is all about

What I am on about is new amps that have finished there training and so they are left to there own devices.

Now as a new amp who has just finished your “training” your gait I can only presume is pretty good or the physio wouldn’t have signed you off.

So NOW down to the wet hard sand walk your stuff with someone filming you, then film your footprints. (I will cover the footprints how/why ECT another day).

Keep this record on your pc; call it your first footprint profile or what ever then some time later if you think you are developing some bad habits do the same again.

Then compare your first film and footprints that you know are ok to your new ones.

When I first did this I couldn’t believe the difference (all for the worse) yet I would never have believed it if I didn’t see with my own eyes.

The best thing I found once you “learnt” what your footprint profile looks like every time you leave a trail it is easy to stop and look, if your profile has changed chances are that you could be developing a bad habit. Without even knowing it. (I know most of you more experienced amps don’t need to but as a new amp this can be a very useful tool, nothing earth shattering) Remember footprints don’t tell lies.

I would like to take credit for this but I can’t.

Last summer when out playing on the beach I just happened to meet a young lady who was “on a bit of a holiday” (her words not mine).and she noticed my arty leg and introduced herself, she is a sports therapist that deals with sports type injures, & how she can tell what’s up by how someone walks/limps ect.

I didn’t really believe her at first but as my mum always said anyone who ignores some advice is at best stupid and at worse arrogant or both.Anyway after listen to her I agreed to be a guinea pig just for a bit of fun. Even though she herself admitted that she had never worked with an amp before.

I walked she commented / filmed then showed me what to look at in the footprints (yes sounds stupid I know).

We did allsorts of steps; big small fast slow big heel plants ECT ECT. Then she went over each set and explained what it is doing to the rest of your body ECT this lady knew her stuff. Finally we went through the film her talking and pointing things out that I wasn’t even aware were happing,

I suppose all the NHS physos know this stuff but simply don’t have the time to go through it with with everybody.

I hope that has cleared that up.

Now the shadow stuff.

Again from this young lady, walk normally with the sun on your back watch your shadow learn by heart what your shadow profile looks like. Yes I know it will change from place to place to place time of day but we are talking in general here. (Sometimes it is better to keep it simple).

If you do it when the sun is low your shadow is sooooooooooooooooooooo long and will exaggerate any swaying or oddities and if you know what to look for it makes spotting them much simpler,

She did mention shop windows Lizzie but as I do my very best to keep away from shops I don’t use that technique,

Other stuff photography again was mentioned and something that I keep to myself “standing at the kitchen sink washing the dishes”. Anyway try this or don’t the chioce is yours I just thought I would clear it up so there was no misunderstanding , if you still feel that I’m talking out my arse there is nothing I can say or do , your loss not mine,

now:- I find it strange that you should be giving tips to people on how to walk when you openly admit that your gait is terrible

I will always say my gait is bad because in my eyes it always will be, nothing will ever replace my natural leg, but why shouldn’t I try to pass on something that I find is useful,

After all isn’t that what the tips and tricks is all about. (Maybe I misread the topic)

Finally:- walking on wet hard sand speaking as an aka I cant think of anywhere better to practise on its smooth, easy to spot any hazards gives good traction and up north the beaches are lovely and mostly deserted. & there is always something different to watch

And even a cool sea breeze on a hot balmy day. But hell what do I know.

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I appreciated it all mick... I've been an amputee for over twenty years and haven't heard most of what you posted because I've never really thought about my gait much, even though I've been in a few gait labs in my time with people studying the effects on my gait of different limbs I've been wearing.

Next time I'm near a beach such as you describe, or out walking as the sun is going down, I'll be looking at how I'm walking and thinking of you! (I'm not sure whether that's good or bad :blink: ).

One little thing... I'm imagining after this session with the lady on the beach that there were quite a few footsteps in the sand on a beach that's normally deserted... after you'd gone I wonder what any passer by would be thinking had been going on, I bet they wouldn't guess right...

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Mick,

I like everything you have written. As Ally has pointed out not everybody has the luxury of having a physio to help them. I for one am always looking for ways to monitor myself and your walking on sand is something I will be trying very shortly.

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