Meet Richard. He's 80 years young.
When I first met Richard, he was 77 years old. He had just been diagnosed with Femoral Neuropathy and was fearful of the prospect that he may fall while walking due to the ongoing weakness in his left leg. He had already experienced a few falls and was generally uneasy on his feet and his much loved golf was no longer an option. It was also quite painful , enough so that he was prescribed Lyrica to help with the nerve pain so that he would be able to sleep at night.
It's a fearful time in our lives when we feel our health slip away and the helplessness can be overwhelming. Medical prognosis for Richard's disease was not positive but he needed to fight for solutions. It's just the way Richard is.
Richard was not at all satisfied with the prospect of losing his mobility. He was told that because the femoral nerve was damaged, there was little potential for normal movement because the nerve needed to be healthy in order to send signals from the central nervous system to the large leg muscles in his thigh. Without this signalling, the muscles were not likely to function effectively, thereby negatively impacting his capacity for walking.
Yes sure. That's all true if you think that movement is governed solely by the actions of muscles over joints as per standard anatomical texts, but from my perspective there's a whole lot more to movement than just muscles pulling on bones to move joints. It's a lot more complex than that. ( If you're a movement geek like me, there's a whole world of information out there that paints a new and fascinating picture of human design and function. Visit Institute of Motion and OD on Movement for more information.)
So here's the bit where art meets science!
From my perspective, the human system is like an orchestra. An orchestra that sounds glorious when all the musicians play harmoniously together under the guidance of the masterful conductor who brings each individual sound together as one lyrical masterpiece. So too, the many tissue systems of the body, the skin, nerves, blood, muscle, lymph, bone and fascia are all collectively responsible for our performance. It's the collaborative effort of these individual components that harmonise to create the hum in our engine. Movement can no longer be described in simple terms. Where we once believed that movement was a result of the action of muscle levering bones, we now understand that movement is more likely to be the result of the "seamless integration" of all these tissue systems combined.
I shared my view of this new world order with Richard. He liked the idea that it really didn't matter too much in the big scheme of things that one single player on the team was not quite up to scratch. All the other players would simply pick up the slack! ( And that they did!)
Today Richard moves like a much younger and more agile version of himself. His despair has been replaced by a new found confidence and an eagerness to remain curious about the workings of the human mind and body. Just take a look at him move and ask yourself if you will be doing this at 80? ( See what Richard has to say in the testimonials section of this website)