Since April of last year, Ryan exercises on a cycling machine that incorporates Functional Electrical Stimulation (FES) to activate his muscles. This machine was purchased through a special, targeted fundraiser and later contributions. His workouts involve his arms (up to one hour) and legs (up to three hours) three or four times a week. In the autumn of last year we added this therapy to exercise his abdominal muscles (paid for by your donations to his Special Needs Trust Fund). The stimulation produces involuntary muscle contractions, but it’s still him doing the work of pushing and pulling against resistance.
The gains in his strength and endurance are obvious. Hell, one just needs to look at him to see his muscle mass and tone. His flexibility has greatly increase too.
It’s nice that this is measured objectively and I have online access to his workout performance. The machine automatically downloads his results immediately after he ends a session. During the actual workout I can see his real-time performance; resistance/torque force, power, speed, distance, oxygen saturation, pulse, stimulation percentage, and so on). So, even before I have validated results I can gauge how he is doing.
Like anyone who exercises will tell you, some days are better than others. I am of the theory that the “off” days are the most productive and if I can keep him working through these he will reap the benefits. When he isn’t producing powerful forces is the time I trade that off for longer distance.
Anyhow, today was one of those “better” days. In fact, for his purely power output, it was his best day… ever! I like these every once-in-a-while because it shows what he is capable of doing.
Let me take you back to eleven months ago when he got on the cycle for his first time. When working out his legs, he spent just thirty minutes and needed the machine’s assist-mode to get him through it. Relating it to terms that are more understandable, Ryan burnt just 0.43% more calories than had he just sat there doing nothing and pushed just 0.50 torque-force resistance (technically called Newton Meters, Nm).
One Nm means a person would need to apply 0.75 pounds (or less than 12 ounces) of force to move an object twelve inches. You can see, this isn’t much resistance he was working against (0.375 Nm) and his muscles were only producing 6 ounces of force to move it.
Back to today. His leg workout was two hours at nearly twice the rotational speed, covering 12.75 miles. This is remarkable in itself, although not his record distance; remember I focus on improving his endurance/distance when he isn’t as strong. So, hold on to your hats for what I’m telling you. Ryan’s power was 2.65 Nm! That’s over a five-fold increase in muscle strength sustained over four times longer in distance.
Based on my own unscientific studies, Ryan burns roughly 68 – 70 calories per hour by doing nothing more than sitting around without any stimulation.
This represents that this morning he burned the same amount of calories as he would had he done nothing other than sitting for over 8.6 hours. This effectively means he expended around 600 calories. Oh, at that was just his leg workout.
Thank you, everyone, for providing the resources for Ryan to get this equipment and make these gains.
Finally, before ending my post today I want to let you know you’re in for a special treat tomorrow. It’s a video of Ryan giving kisses to the nurse! So, make sure you check the website tomorrow because this is one of those “Don’t Miss” videos.