(Editor's Note: Allen wasn't sure if he should submit this blog to us. He wrote:
I wrote the attached blog about something I experienced at the last Abilities Expo here, but because of my association with the company mentioned, you might not want to run it, even with a disclaimer. I'm not trying to pitch the product. I'm pitching the joy of movement itself.
Allen is a consult for Flexiciser who makes the Physical Movement Therapy Device (PMTD) mentioned in the piece. After reading his article, I agreed, it was about the joy of moving and we are all about health and wellness here. So take this as just that, an endorsement of staying fit, not of this particular machine. Although, we're including a photo and a link to the website so you know what Allen is talking about.)
THE JOY OF MOVEMENT BY ALLEN RUCKER
I recently spent a Saturday hanging out at the Abilities Expo pavilion of Flexiciser, Inc, makers of a nifty movement therapy device called the PMTD, and I must say, I walked away with a whole new appreciation of the value of movement in the lives of the mobility-impaired. I knew the machine, which simultaneously moves all four limbs, was effective. A T-12 paralytic, I’ve been using it regularly for the last four years and seen how it has improved my own health. And I can recite its laundry list of medical benefits, from increasing muscle mass and blood circulation to strengthening the fascial system and controlling weight. But what I saw that Saturday wasn’t about therapy or good health. It was about joy.
The company set out a whole array of these machines at the Expo, like new cars on a showroom floor, and let anyone wandering by try it out. Kids in wheelchairs and otherwise challenged instantly loved being strapped in and swept along by the built-in motor that powers any and all dysfunctional limbs. To them it was like the coin-operated hobby horse in front of the drugstore. It didn’t have to go anywhere. It just had to move. They giggled and tried to make it go faster, like their own private amusement ride.
But it wasn't kids who left the most indelible impression. It was two adults. They were both in their thirties and both severely disabled. The first guy I saw looked like he had CP or so other disorder that affected both his movement and speech. A sales rep helped move his wheelchair in place and the motor began to move all of his limbs. Then, out of nowhere, he let out this whooping holler that no doubt frightened some senior citizens and embarrassed everyone in hearing distance. It sounded like someone riding a Brahma bull on the convention floor. It was loud and sustained and repetitive. The faster he went, the bigger the "whoo-eeees!" and the "wah-hoos!" It was like he had just won the lottery.
I went over and asked him if he was having fun. Beaming from ear to ear, he responded, "And then some!"
About the time the Whooper had been dragged off the machine and led back into the Expo, another man, a quad in a power chair, and his mother asked me for information about the PMTD. They had never seen anything like it and the man was anxious to try it out. Again, one of the Flexiciser people lined him up for a test drive. He didn’t want to connect up his arms, only his legs. He started up and when I turned back a good ten minutes later, he was now pumping like Lance Armstrong going up the side of a mountain. As he pumped, he told me about the accident that had left him with no movement in his arms and only a little in his legs. It was pretty clear from the look on his face that he didn’t plan on stopping the PMTD until they turned off the lights in the convention hall.
He didn't whoop. He beamed, broadly and continuously, as his legs moved like crazy. It was about then I realized what I had seen in both men's eyes: pure, unfiltered delight. They were both experiencing something they hadn’t in a long time, if ever. They had been set free to move and keep moving. You see that kind of bliss in the eyes of kids and dogs running around in circles in the backyard. Here I saw it in the reaction of two seriously impaired adults who, unlike the rest of us uptight burghers, had no reason to be coy or reserved about their exuberance. They had been holding it in too long and now this simple movement device had just blown the lid off.
I wasn't the only person who was struck by the smile plastered on the face of the second man. His mother bought a PMTD on the spot.
(Full Disclosure: Allen Rucker is a consultant with Flexiciser, Inc, maker of this device.)
© 2012 Allen Rucker |