Day 20 – the need for a stick is nearly gone. Moving around the house I help proprioception by brushing my hand along the walls as I walk.
Walking outside today for about 1km. I walked half of it with my eyes shut (blinking every 5-10 steps to stay on track).
What I noticed after a while was that, when I concentrated on my hips with my eyes shut, I ‘knew’ about the Right hip – it felt ‘there’. But the Left hip felt like a blank between the top of my pelvis and halfway down the thigh. Odd feeling, rather like when you have a dental injection and your lip goes numb. It’s just a hole in your body image.
That’s just more confirmation of what’s going on: my brain just doesn’t know where the leg is so it doesn’t know how to control the muscles around the hip. Now (3 weeks) all the post-operative swelling and trauma has gone the muscles are pretty well capable of doing what they did before the operation: allow me to walk normally. All that has changed now is the feedback from the joint has disappeared.
I think most of the task now is to retrain the brain to control the muscles.
As an example of how clumsy this mechanism performs now I stood on each leg with my eyes closed (modified Rhomberg). On the normal leg the muscles of the hip, thigh, calf and foot were contracting all the time. Making little corrections to keep me upright.
By contrast, on the operated leg the movements were gross and clumsy. All the fine control had gone – that’s what needs to be retrained.
There doesn’t seem to be much research on proprioception and hip rehabilitation. Here’s a paper reviewing what there is. The authors conclude that there are many retraining muscular regimes which would involve proprioception, but few which include isolated proprioceptive training:
I did however find this one which has proprioceptive details, directed toward retraining athletes: