Moving Up in a Standing Frame

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The “deer in the headlights” look was actually more disappointing than surprising after requesting a prescription for a a standing frame, during my annual visit to the Muscular Dystrophy clinic at UT Southwestern Medical Center in March 29, 2018.
Being a clinic of neurology, I expected the accessory of a standing frame to be common knowledge, a basic no-brainer. The blank stare reflected back at me by my doctor’s nurse stated the exact opposite.

As seen on tv…yeah, reality television first brought a standing frame into my reality. Then, I learned that sitting is as detrimental to one’s health as smoking cigarettes. What??? Why had my medical touchstones not bothered to share this important piece of equipment and its essential benefits? Why was it not a blip on my radar? How did I fall through these cracks?   

I started asking myself, why is the paraplegic community well aware of the importance of a standing frame, but not for someone like myself, with neurological challenges? I made it my mission to become self-educated on the health benefits of a standing frame. So, I was prepared for the nurse’s deadpan reaction, and was very capable of regurgitating facts that should be obvious to a medical professional.

There are many important health benefits to using a standing frame:

~ Strengthens and stretches muscles

~ Improves bone density

~ Improves respiratory and circulatory systems

~ Improves bowel/bladder function

~ Improves digestion

~ Improves posture

~Improves mental clarity by improving all the above

From my experience, both neuromuscular diseases and spinal cord injuries deal with doctors of neurology, Neurologists tend to focus on a patient’s comfort and maintaining their status quo. The difference is, spinal cord patients are, also, referred to physical medicine doctors, or physiatrists, who, in turn, commonly refer to physical therapists. People with neuromuscular diseases hardly cross paths with  physiatrists. These doctors and therapists help their patients develop a better quality of life through movement and not just maintaining status quo. They instill hope and are the ones who hold high expectations of improvement for their patients.

Discovering the benefits of this 50 year secret, it was imperative that I add it to my exercise routine. But, after  a successful prescription from my doctor and a brief meeting with a medical supply salesman, I went rogue and purchased a standing frame for half price on EBay.

This contraption, that aesthetically looks like a throwback to Medieval Times, was an exciting, new challenge. Just the thought of being long and limber after 40 years of sitting was refreshing. Besides, people stand every day…how hard could it be? HARD! Retraining my brain/body connection proved to be more difficult than expected. Slow and steady is the key in order to prevent any injuries. Standing at 90 degrees in a standing frame is perfectly straight. Trying to adjust to this ”hurts so good” elongating torture chamber, I’ve achieved 43 degrees after almost a year, Close to halfway there! Whew!!

Hopefully, with lots of practice and the assistance of Bob my trainer, by this time next year, February 2020, I’ll be vertically victorious, standing eye to eye at 90 degrees. The blessings of this device is just another step forward in strides of faith.

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