Exercise & Ataxia

I’m glad its finally getting milder so when I wake up I don’t have to put electric blanket on to warm muscles through before I can do anything.

Today was first day I didn’t need to do that.  It has been a long winter and very cold here in UK with really heavy snow and freezing temperatures everynight.

getting out and about with wheelchair has not been easy

I haven’t been able to go on Wii Fit Plus that I got for xmas much as I pulled muscles three times between xmas eve and march.  I wasn’t exercising either just doing normal things like pulling clothes on,  trying to turn over in bed etc.

I have only been able to manage gentle exercising by stretching whilst fully supported by my bed and the heat from electric blanket keeping muscles warm and relaxed,  so It was a nice change this morning to not be so stiff and I have managed half an hour on the Wii Fit plus today doing gentle yoga and some balance exercises.

I like this game as it stops after a few and gives you chance to rest however the weighing thing is not very accurate and its often several pounds out from bathroom scales and frequently tells me my weight has changed within the space of about 5 mins!

I sit on my walker seat with balance board in front of me to put feet on without having to step up,  then using an old style walking frame with no wheels, around the front I can stand myself up. I can manage exercises that only require a small amount of movement and weight shift this way.  I use weights on ankles and wrists to help steady me and I find this helps.

The ankle weights I have are ones sold from sports shops I originally bought them as wrist weights but found them too heavy as I have very thin wrists,  so had to have the wrist weights specially made.  I also use the wrist weights to steady my arms for typing for longer periods or drawing/water colour painting.

They are also handy for coordination games on Wii and for helping me aim Wii remote at screen as I find it easier to line up target.  The archery on Wii sports resort is good training for trying to keeps arms as steady as possible and aiming.

Games that require a quicker shift of balance I have found I can manage better from sitting on the board.  Any game that only requires you to shift balance left/right or front to back can be done from sitting on it.  My sitting balance is better than my standing balance.  Sometimes if a game requires a front to back balance shift,  if you turn the board around (as if it was a skateboard you were gonna stand on or ‘portrait’ mode) you can then just move left for forwards and right for backwards.  I find it gives me more stability with legs out to side (as if sat in ‘W’ shape,  like kids do) when the board is this way around and narrower.

If I need to sit on it in ‘landscape’ mode I have the old walker behind me so I’m  sat in middle of it with sides to hold on to.

For games that don’t require balance board I sit on bean cube with leg at each side, –  again to give myself a wider base and try to focus on sitting up straight and aiming accurately at the screen.  For games requiring faster actions like tennis and boxing I stay in wheelchair for safety, then I can put concentration into exercising arms fully rather than trying not to fall off the bean cube!

I have found this has improved my core body muscles so although it was too late to do anything about my legs and speech by time I was diagnosed I am hopeful that that the stretches and exercising/art therapy has gone some way to helping reduce the speed at which the ataxia is affecting my upper torso and arms.   I think also as typing is my main form of communication not only for computer access but to use a minicom textphone and my lightwriter has meant that I can still do most things for myself,  things just take a little longer these days!

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3 thoughts on “Exercise & Ataxia

  1. I had to laugh at the comment about the Wii and the various weights it offers you, I wasnt impressed when we first got our Wii and it told me my Wii fit age, which was well above my age, so I went Wii fit mad for a whlie until I worked out by fluke that its not accurate and after 5 Mins of Yoga I had suddenly dropped 10 years in age lol

  2. This is really interesting! It’s making me think possibly that a Wii would be a good form of exercise for me if I get a little healthier – if most of it can be done sitting down I could totally do it if I’m just 2-3 levels of health up from where I am now! And it sounds like more fun than 200 reps of my physio movements 🙂

    Is there a minimum amount it requires you to do for it to be useful? Does it let you skip certain exercises if you can’t manage them without totally screwing up the routine? How long do you think somebody would need to be able to sit unsupported to do the stuff you’re describing?

    I am tempted to ask my brother if I can borrow his Wii fit for a while to see if it works for me!!!

  3. Hi Ricky

    Thanks for checking out my site! You don’t have to do the exercises or games in any order unless you choose wii fit plus routines and select which ones you want to do in which order. This is useful once you have worked out which ones you can do to turn them into short routines.

    You can see my full review of Wii Fit Plus (second game out last year)
    http://www.livingwithataxia.org/forum/topics/wii-fit-plus-review

    You do need to be able to stand or sit on balance board which would involve getting yourself on it, it frequently asks you to get off it then back on when changing to different game. So even sitting on it you need to be able to either lift your bum up until it tells you to get back on, or slide on and off it.

    Wii Sports Resort does not require Wii Balance Board neither does Wii sports (originally came with console free) but some games require quite vigorous movement of arms ie boxing, tennis, swordplay.

    I would suggest you borrow a wii and copy of wii fit/board first and see what you think? I found it helpful but I have quite good strength just poor fine-motor co-ordination, I’m not sure how helpful it is if physical strength and fatigue is your biggest issue. KT

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