My sister was in a drug-induced coma for about 6 weeks. After 3 more weeks in the hospital, and a week in an extended care facility, she is home. However, the insurance is no longer covering any physical therapy. Are there any exercises we can help her with at home to speed her recovery? She is suffering from extremely weak legs and hands, along with no energy. Any suggestions would be helpful.
There are lots of things. First of all are "range-of-motion" exercises, which involve stretching every arm and leg (and the head) through a complete range of motion several times. Assist her with walking a little at a time. but do not "overwalk". This will result in so-called shinsplints. Get a little inexpensive children's "marble" notebook and record every days sessions. Spaced practice is better than massed practice. Thing about installing "walking parallel bars" like you see in the rahab centers. You make your own from what is called "speedrail" that has elbow connections and a baseplate. Srcew them down to either a 3/4 inch plywood plate with rubber or felt on the bottom or two segments of 2" by 12" plank, again with rubber on the bottom to avoid scratching the floor. You can make the rails the right height for her. Get a good wheelchair with soft rubber tires and take her out as much as possible. Even though she cxan walk a wheelchair can bring her several blocks to a park so she won't strain herself. Ask her doctor to authorize a certificate of necessity for a walker. Purchase some very light inexpensive velcro weights for her ankles and wrists. Repetitions will be helpful, but DON'T overdo. A few repetitions. Then a rest. Then a few more. Think about visiting her rehab facility with a nice big pizza with all the trimmings for the staff and ask them to show you exercises. When a person is going through physical rehab they will usually allow a relative to be there to watch the exercises and be taught how to supervise them. They are still rehabing people at the facility. Ask them to allow you to view a few sessions. Get a soft-rubber "rehab ball" for squeezing. They come in other varieties to strengthen grips. Try sit-ups, push-ups and touch-your-toes exercises. Outside try throwing a small plastic ball at a net. I think the regulation basketballs are a bit heavy. Short walks. Keep the walks short. Stair climbing, but again, not too much. If you have access to a pool swimming is fantastic. Even a small backyard pool will do. Give her D3 supplements and calcium, at least 2000 mg of D3 a day. Calcium and D3 are necessary for muscular contraction. She will be in deficiency after all that time in the hospital. Playing "catch" with a soft-ball or larger sized ball thrown at slow speeds is also good. It will take some time to regenerate muscle mass. Good luck!
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