If you are fortunate (???) enough to have the joy of wearing an Ilizarov fixator, much of your normal, mobile life may have changed. This is mostly true for people wearing the frame for bone growth treatment or those with foot plates/rings. The latter impedes walking mostly because the pins through the foot are probably (In my opinion and experience) the most uncomfortable of the lot.
However, even though walking about will not be the
most comfortable experience, exercise is still most important,
especially as research has revealed that bone growth is stimulated by
the application of pressure on the uniting bones.
You will have, most probably, been given a schedule of exercise and physiotherapy by your surgeon / doctor / hospital physio. It is imperative for your recovery that you follow this regime. [NB Check out the Downloads page for physio info.]
Two of the most important exercises for wearers of Tibial fixators are shown in the images below. The description beside each animation explains the reasons for each exercise.
In this exercise, the aim is to stop contraction of the muscles and
shortening of the tendons which can occur with a tibial frame. This
normally happens because it is more comfortable to sit or lie with
the leg bent than it is to keep it straight.
In this exercise strips of rubber band (Called Theraband in the UK)
are formed into loops around the frame such that they can be hooked
over the toes with enough force to encourage the toes to bend upward
whilst not, of course, causing pain.
Of course, if your lucky enough to have a local gym
that is suitable equipped, then just because one bit of the body
doesn't work, it doesn't mean that you can't go and exercise the rest.
My local council runs what are called 'Fresh start' sessions for people who have diabilities or who are recovering from illness or disease. The gym is highly accomodating and has supervision at all times to ensure that correct exercise is carried out.
With their permission and agreement, as well as normal upper body exercises, I have managed to use some of the equipment, with slight adaption, to help keep my upper leg and thigh muscles in some sort of half reasonable condition.
The machine I use is an adjustable curl machine where
the pully is adjustable in height as is the load which can be placed
on the system.
I have used a large, thick leather dog collar which I can fit around my leg just above the knee. This can be seen in the left hand picture. which also shows how the strap is clipped to the operating cable of the machine.
The right hand shot shows me, in a seated position. The height of the pulley is adjusted such that my leg is held off the ground by the weight load placed on the machine. The exercise is to push the leg downward, whilst keeping it as straight as possible. This position is held for a time and the leg is then allowed, in a controlled manner to raise back to the starting position.
DO NOT ATTACH ANY EXERCISE EQUIPMENT DIRECTLY TO THE FRAME AT ALL!!!!!
The exercises can be varied from seated on a chair to seated on the floor or in standing positions. If in any doubt at all, ensure that there is somebody in attendance whilst you exercise. Above all DON'T OVER DO IT !
You'll be surprised how quickly the muscles will start to improve.