Sometimes you have to go completely crazy to get a handle on things.
Steven Magee

Sometimes you do, as Steven Magee says, have to go crazy to get a handle on things. Sometimes you don’t. But it still takes more than the obvious.

There are three ways to use the handle on the arm trainer of a MOTOmed. For someone like Pádraig with (still) little upper body control, the obvious was to us an attachment that holds his lower arm in position and fixes his hands to the rotating handles.

That turned out to be a bit difficult because he (still) has a slight problem stretching out his left arm.

So we tried the ‘hand-shoe’ variant. Much better – but still a bit problematic because at times he pulls his hands and arms towards himself, lifting the MOTOmed up and bringing it to a halt displaying ‘spasm’ detected.

Then someone real smart started to think a bit out of the box and took away that stuff and just invited Pádraig to hold on to the handles himself, without any of the support and hand-shoe ‘restraints’ aimed at helping him.

And voilà, it worked – with just a little manual support for his hands when needed.

The strap-ins designed to help him to hold-on to the handle bars in fact restricted his movements and ‘encouraged’ him to pull his hands and arms away towards his body, making the upper body, the arm trainer, very difficult for him to use.

Allowing him the freedom to interrupt his use of the arm trainer by allowing him to pull his hands and arms away from the bars when he wanted to do that from time to time, relaxed him and made the exercise a near doddle for him.

Sometimes, you don’t have to go crazy to get a handle on things. Sometimes thinking out of the box is sufficient.

I was trying to do that during the week in a meeting in Leinster House, the seat of the Irish parliament, between member organisations of the Neurological Alliance of Ireland (NAI), clinical leads of the HSE, and politicians.

There is a national programme in place, supported by all, to set up Neuro Rehab Teams in all of Ireland’s different community health areas. Nobody in the room could explain, why this has not been done yet. Because it is so badly needed.

I felt like standing up and shout loud out: Get a grip. Get a handle on this. Who, if not us, will have to make this happen.

Sometimes, you have to go completely crazy to get a handle on things.

That day, I wasn’t sufficiently crazy.

Nobody was.

Which is an altogether sad affair.

One thing happened that brought smiles and laughter to nearly everybody. Snow.

Adults became children. Building snowmen. Throwing snowballs at each other. Even Pádraig tried to throw a snow ball at one of his therapists. It was a brilliant attempt, but he will need to practice a bit more.

And he will. When and how he wants to.

Without any ‘helpful’ restriction.