After a day of retraining my gait control systems using proprioceptive exercises I improved. As expected these systems recovered very quickly and I was soon able to walk without a stick (much like riding a bicycle, the brain soon relearns these things).
However, my gait only improved so much, something was still hindering it.
Yesterday I explored the idea of proprioception a bit further. Yesterday I needed only a bendy cane to walk. Then how little information did my brain need to control the hip muscles properly?
So I tried without a stick, but running my hand along a surface. It worked just as well as a stick. Interestingly when using a stick, the opposite hand to the operation worked better, by contrast with only a hand the same side was better.
So then I thought what about vision alone, without touch. Vision is immensely important to position sense – if you walk through one of those crazy houses it’s hard to stop leaning the way your eyes tell you.
And to emphasise the strong link between vision and joint sense there is an interesting test in neuroscience where you put a subject in a dark room with only a point light in the distance. Then hold their arm at shoulder height sideways and make small rotations with the hand. After a minute or two the light appears to rotate with the arm movements.
So I tried walking down a narrow passage. I was able to walk straight, but as soon as I exited into the garden I became unstable. Clearly vision was no longer giving the right signals in an open environment.
This video illustrates this – if I walk in the open it looks and feels unstable. However, if I remove the visual cues to position, in other words put a blindfold on, then walking is easy. I walk quickly and to me it feels just like walking normally.
The real importance of this video is that it shows, without a shadow of doubt, that right now – day 17 – I can walk NORMALLY. So there may be some stiffness and soreness, and I have undoubtedly lost muscle mass from the previous arthritis, and I can’t exactly run and jump. But I don’t need crutches, and I don’t need a stick, because there’s nothing wrong with my gait.