Thursday, January 19, 2017

Walking Test -- Failed!

(Videos are courtesy of the Movement Disorder Clinic in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada. Used with permission)

These videos are part of the routine check-ups to test my deep brain stimulator (DBS), surgically implanted in 2008. I have been put through this barrage of tests five or six times. I did the same sets of exercises, repeated four times. My DBS programmer Renee called this battery of tests our office calisthenics. In the office, I had to put pegs into peg boards, press buttons as fast as I could, stamp my feet while slapping my thighs, keep my balance while she came behind me and pulled my shoulders back, and then go out in the hall to do this walking test.

1. Off medications/ stimulation on:

In this first video, I am off my medications but my DBS is turned on.


2. Off both:

Then, they turn off my DBS and repeat the whole test again. On the day that these videos were taped, I was not able to do the second battery of tests. This is me giving up. My body is doing its human pretzel interpretation, also known as dystonia. My toes are curled under, and they had to rescue me to keep me from falling. I have had several falls at home during dystonic episodes. One time I broke a bone on the top of my foot. I gave permision for my Xrays from that session to be used in teaching physiotherapy students.

3. On medication, DBS off: 

For the third round, I have taken my pills with carbonated water (to make them take effect faster). This video was taken about twenty minutes after the second one, when I couldn't walk!

4. On both:

For the fourth and final round, they turned my DBS back on.

I have a controller for my DBS that allows me to turn electrical leads on the left and right sides of my brain up and down within the parameters set by the technician at the last appointment, and I can turn the unit off and on. I was sternly warned to never turn the unit off.

Three years ago, I was doing up my pill trays for the week, and my hands were so shaky I couldn't pick up the pills. As a last resort, I turned my DBS unit off. Immediately my hands stopped shaking. I turned it back onand my hands resumed shaking. I turned it back off and left it off. I have turned it on only to test now and then, It has never made my symptoms better. I have been keeping my appointments with my neurologist and my DBS technician every three or four years, and they agree that the DBS is not helping. Next week I have an appointment with a neurosurgeon to discuss having the battery removed.

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