Relearning to Walk: Heel toe, heel toe

Lethan Candlish Part Eight

Relearning to Walk

Lethan dramatizes his task of relearning to walk. This is a theme among many people we’ve talked to.

One of the most striking dramatizations in Lethan’s Who Am I Again is the idea of relearning to walk. This is a theme that resonates among brain injured people. The survivors have to relearn to do something they should already know how to do. This can be frustrating for the survivor.

Lethan echoes this feeling in his performance. “And I remember it being hard and frustrating.  Kind of embarrassing having to be re-taught how to do things that I knew I should know how to do like walking.  Walking technique,” he said. “Heel, toe, heel toe, heel toe, heel, toe, heel, toe.  But I wasn’t doing it right so I had to keep practicing. Heel, toe, heel.”

It doesn’t take long to read. But the video displays the ordeal, the frustration and embarrassment, of relearning to such a basic activity like walking. The actual process took a long time and a lot of effort. In the video, he does illuminate the process of relearning to walk for those who have never been through it. It also gives insight into the other areas of Lethan’s life and disability where he experiences difficulties.

For Lethan and other survivors, walking isn’t the only thing that needs to be relearned. They need to relearn life. Speech is another area of life that is learned as a toddler, and can be frustrating for a brain injured adult to relearn. It’s much easier to learn to do with a developing brain as a toddler than an injured brain as an adult.

For the survivor of severe brain injury, it is not just walking that has to be relearned.  There is a need to go slow, to heel to toe so much of life. Memory, conversation, shopping – they all work better when done step by step – heel toe, heel toe. Speech is more complicated, less universal, yet it is like walking, something learned as a child that is much more difficult to learn with an injured brain versus a developing brain.

However, like toddlers, brain injured patients learn at different speeds. They all do eventually learn the basic tasks they need to get through a day. It might start slow, but they will eventually learn. The brain is always changing, allowing the person to relearn these basic activities one step at a time.



Gordon Johnson

Attorney Gordon Johnson is one of the nations leading brain injury advocates. He is Past-Chair of the TBILG, a national group of more than 150 brain injury advocates. He has spoken at numerous brain injury seminars and is the author of some of the most read brain injury web pages on the internet.

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