FA & I: Celebrating 25 years together
My diagnosis
My scoliosis
Muscle Spasm
Using a wheelchair
My powerchair
My Speech
NHS Wheelchair Services
Foot surgery
Using a catheter
My diabetes
As FA progresses
Living with depression
Ataxia UK Coventry and Warwickshire Support Group
Independent Living
Getting the care I need
Using a hoist
My Hive
Taking CoQ10
Using my computer
Using public transport
The Open University
Working life
Travels in the UK
Walt Disney World

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Last updated: October 2018


I jave always believed very strongly that exercise is the very best way to slow down the progression of FA. Here's what I do:

Exercise bike/handcycle

My bike

I bought my MOTOmed Viva 2 Lower Body from a company called Medimotion. I first used one at my local physio department and was so impressed I decided to buy one myself. It is passive so it does the movement itself but you can actively pedal yourself at any time too. I still have some power in my legs because of the various exercise I do but I haven't done anything near as active with my legs as this for years. Even in passive mode I can feel it working my muscles in my calves and thighs and afterwards I get a sort of pins-and-needles feeling because it's getting the blood flowing.

The only small problem is that I can't use the lower-body part of my bike independently as I need help to put my feet in the pedals. My Personal Assistant helps me to do this - so most days I cycle for 15 minutes most days.

My bike also has a hand-cycle and I use this for 20 minutes at least once a day (I can use it completely independently). I find this really helps to strengthen my core muscles which had become very week after having surgery on my spine 20 years ago. I have far less of a tendency to lean over to one side now.


Standing frame

When I had my foot surgery my surgeon stressed how important standing was in order to prevent the tendons from getting tight again. The idea of being able to stand again after so many years of being unable to really excited me. I wasted no time in looking into standing frames and I even had some companies bring some out to my home none of them suited me. By lucky coincidence a friend decided to sell her electronic standing frame a weeks later but as she lives in the South I hadt no means of getting it here to the Midlands. This is when a really exceptionally good friend of mine went ahead and bought this frame for me, but driving it to my house in the back of his WAV, and giving it to me as a belated birthday present. I was obviously overwhelmed, it was perfect and just like the one I had been using at physio. My gym instructor came to my home to help me to set it up and although it took a few months to find a Personal Assistant to help me use it every day which I am doing now and my progress has been remarkable – I now stand for 20 – 30 minutes per day, using just one strap around my waist and I don’t even have hold on!

Lifting weights

I've lifted dumbells since I joined the gym at college when I was 17. A few years ago I started using 5kg ankle weights which are like soft weighted bean bags instead of dumbbells as I was hitting my face and knees with them. Whilst holding the ankle weights I do flat flys, bicep curls, lateral raisers, triceps and wrist curls (there are loads of how-to videos of each of these on YouTube). I find these are really great exercises to do especially for trunk balance and it's something that I can do completely independently.

Foot stretches

Immediately after my casts came off following my foot surgery I was advised by a physiotherapist to stretch my tendons every morning and night to stop them from becoming tight again. I was taught to use a towel, hold the ends in each hand, place the middle of the towel under the ball of my foot, and then pull on the ends of the towel. I can feel a really awesome stretch doing this – I would recommend doing it after surgery or as a preventative measure. I’ve since swapped a towel for a more portable old wheelchair belt. I do however need my Personal Assistant to help me to do this.

Exercises to strengthen hands and fingers

In recent years I have found my fingers getting really stiff and as so much of my time revolves around using a computer I have found this to be a really limiting symptom. In an attempt to stop it from getting any worse I exercise my hands and fingers firstly using a stress ball which I bought from eBay. I found I was dropping this lot whilst using it so I asked my mom to attach it to a piece of string so why can wear it around my neck while I’m using it so it doesn’t fall on the floor. I also use hand grips which I bought from my local sports store and do this hand and finger workout http://www.webmd.com/osteoarthritis/ss/slideshow-hand-finger-exercises.

Exercises to strengthen facial muscles

A few years ago I noticed how my face started to droop when smiling for photos and I could guess how this muscle weakness was affecting my speech. I now do exercises similar to those on http://www.wikihow.com/Exercise-Facial-Muscles - over time they've really hrlped.



This website has been around sinse 1998, and although it's changed a lot over the years it's always been about me and my disability. Over the years I have used many different hosts and website design packages. For the past ten years or so I have used 1&1 as my host and I have always been very happy with it. I have always wanted to learn how to build a website from scratch using Adobe Dreamweaver, so about three years ago I got in touch with Polar Solutions and arranged for a trainer to come out to my home to teach me at my own pace. So I now design this website using Adobe Dreamweaver and the skills I learned on that course. I designed the buttons using Cool Text.