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Tara's Trial Take Three

As a reminder, Tara is currently taking part in an electrical stimulation (neuromodulation) clinical pilot in the UK. You can read more about the trial itself here.

With Tara now approaching the halfway stage of her clinical trial, she explains more about the dexterity testing, standing and sensitivity tests that go on to test progress during the trial.

Welcome back, dear Reader for the third installment. I left you, no doubt, on the edge of your seat last time with promises of another full battery of tests having completed forty sessions and here I am back to report.

So, on starting the trial I was put through my paces with several standardised sets of tests. So standardised that the exact same round tub of American brand cream cheese has to be used for the hand exercises.

The good news is that the tub no longer contains cream cheese but tiny, little nuts – the mechanical kind not the edible kind – which you are then supposed to pick out once you have demonstrated whether you have the dexterity to take the lid off the tub correctly. I KNOW – the excitement never ends.

There is also a standardised key-in-lock device designed by somebody with a fiendish sense of humour because it’s much more difficult than any I’ve come across in real life. Although, as I wrestle futilely with the key on a piece of string whilst the clock ticks down, I can at least comfort myself with the thought that this is not actually my house lock and I am not sitting in the rain trying to get in. Before my next tests I may take the liberty of applying the sum total of my engineering expertise to spray WD40 on it when nobody’s looking.

I also pinched things, gripped things, fixed things onto other things, poured liquid and blew into things. At the end of these we saw small improvements with the exception of my lung function which had increased its score by 50% on the expiration stage. Hoorah!

Sitting, standing and not falling over

We then moved on to the sitting, standing and not falling over portion of the tests. One of our main goals for post forty sessions was to reach the stage that I was able to stand independently apart from having my knees blocked.

You are required to do this for at least a minute which is videoed to prove that it wasn’t a fluke or that they took a photo in the split second you remained vertical before folding like a deckchair.

I was pretty nervous about this bit because I had achieved the stand previously on a few occasions but I had to reproduce it for the test otherwise it wouldn’t count officially. Also, Rocky, one of the physios, had threatened to deprive me of cake for several weeks if I failed so the pressure was on.

“Thankfully I did manage to do the stand with my torso and hips completely independent although the sixty seconds felt like an aeon.”

I had also improved on my sit ups and sit backs. Before starting the trial I had only been able to lift my head off the plinth and now I am able to clear my scapulas on both sides. I can also recover to sitting upright from further forward by a few degrees although there is still a point of no return where my face rushes to meet my knees and there’s nothing I can do about it.

“Thankfully I did manage to do the stand with my torso and hips completely independent although the sixty seconds felt like an aeon.”

How sensitive?

Last but not least I had another ASIA examination on which my sensitivity to the blunt and pointy bits had increased by 50% on both left and right side and movement had increased enough that I am now classified as a C Motor Incomplete rather than Sensory Incomplete.

To the naked eye there probably doesn’t seem to have been any improvement and Himself is still impatiently awaiting the day I can do something useful, like the washing up but this is why regular standardised testing is so important as it tracks the little changes.

Next time I’ll update on all the fun when people start filming me for PR purposes and I should have another set of results post 60 sessions – although these will be the half set. We don’t do the full battery again until the end of the trial.

Until then….