I had an evaluation for physical therapy on Monday and my first session today. I am having increasing trouble with walking and, although I don't know if this is going to help, I think it's worth a shot. So far I have found out a number of interesting things.
My flexibility is okay for my age (although it seems worse to me than it used to be), but I have weakness in my hip flexors and in my ankle muscles. The latter apparently explains the weird thing I do where one foot strikes the other when I'm walking. My feet want to turn inward. In fact, it was watching me walk that tipped the physical therapist off to this problem. Then she asked me to swivel my feet outwards at the ankles and hold them there while she pushed them in. It was the weirdest thing. I had absolutely no resistance and couldn't seem to figure out how to get my brain to send a message to these muscles. So I am going to do some exercises to strengthen those muscles.
I am also having more balance issues and all the balance tests the PT asked me to do turned out to be much harder than they looked. Today the PT had me do some testing in this three sided box that has a floor that has sensors in it. I had to wear what looks like a climbing harness and was hooked up to the walls so I couldn't fall. I had to put my feet in a certain place and look at a computer monitor in from of me. Around the monitor were three walls painted with scenery.
Then I had to keep my balance under various scenarios. First just standing still with my eyes open. Then with eyes open while the walls/scenery moved; then while the floor moved; then both the walls and the floor moved with my motion (I think); also with eyes closed both with the floor still and with the floor moving.
The PT then printed off some brightly-colored green (normal) and red (not so good) bar graphs on a scale of 0 to 100 from the computer. I'm not sure exactly what was measured, but it had to do with the effectiveness of various systems that contribute to balance. The input from my vision to my ability to balance wasn't at 100, but it was in the normal range. My sensory input was under 75; less than normal for my age, but apparently not horrible. The vestibular system was rapidly approaching zero (just a thin little sliver of red). That was a bit sobering.
There was also an exercise where I had to lean as far I could in different directions when cued by the monitor. My reaction times and ability to lean in the right direction (apparently some people go in the wrong direction or weave their way to the right one) were fine, but I couldn't lean as far as I was supposed to.
Anyway, I have been given some exercises to do that involve standing in a corner on a pillow with a chair in front of me (so I don't fall and kill myself) and my eyes closed in an effort to improve this. I'll keep you posted on how it goes.