Making an Impact by Going Beyond Everyday Practice
Over the next few weeks, Michael created an “airplane rudder system” by crafting “pedals” from 2×4 wooden blocks that he attached to a large base using bolts and tension springs. Pressing down on one pedal raised the other, which gave the user the sensation of maneuvering an airplane toward the left or right side. The springs could be modified to provide “open-chain” or “closed-chain” feedback, both of which are important in rehabilitation. Additionally, the tension on the springs could be adjusted to provide more resistance as the client regained his strength and motor control.
The client practiced manipulating a modified control stick that was made from a bathroom grab bar and a single-point cane. He also watched a flight video of a plane taking off and landing. Michael integrated all of these components so the client could practice flying an airplane in a simulated environment.
The client made tremendous progress. After a few weeks, he mastered the airplane rudder system and could maintain balance between his right and left legs for more than two hours at a time. He was discharged and thanks to Michael’s creative rehabilitation program, the client later reported that he did in fact fly a real plane again.
More importantly, the client felt “more than fine.” His progress went beyond walking and getting around—Michael made a major impact on the client’s life and well-being.