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Staying Well when Housebound

Community Member

I'm looking for tips from others on how to get exercise (to improve mental health) when mobility is an issue and how to stay positive when facing a set-back...

I have an autoimmune-related spinal cord injury that has mostly affected my legs - they're unsteady but also really heavy and hard to lift. I was diagnosed late last year and was hopeful for a 4-6 month recovery (based on medical advice). It's now been ten months, with a lot of positive progress despite frequent set-backs. My most recent set-back has affected my chest (restricting breathing), legs and arms. I'm gradually improving again and on a really good day I can walk about the length of half a block using a cane. Most days getting around inside my house including up and down the stairs, sitting at my desk to work and doing some housework is enough.

My legs are not strong enough to drive at the moment and I live in a remote town with no public transport, so I plan medical and physio appointments and grocery shopping for when my spouse can take me after work. I miss being able to go out alone and on my own terms - to nip to the shops or have coffee with a friend.

I'm lucky in many ways: my spouse and tween children are very supportive, I have a couple of friends that visit for an hour most Fridays, I love my job and my employer has allowed me to work from home (a sanity saver).

I still feel lonely, very tired and then both ungrateful and selfish for feeling lonely. I feel frustrated I can't do things for myself and lazy/slack/guilty when I have to ask for help. I don't cope well with doing nothing and don't want to sit still and let life to pass me by, so I tend to overdo things and push myself, then end up exhausted and in pain.

Generally I'm a positive person and pretty darned resilient. I've faced hard times before but this has been the toughest yet. I know things are going to get better - it's just taking a longer than planned. I also know that other people have it much tougher and still stay strong and positive.

Does anyone have any strategies they use to keep moving without overdoing it? Or tips on how to stay positive while being restricted with mobility? Or for staying hopeful when facing another set-back?

Thanks in advance

5 Replies 5

Champion Alumni
Champion Alumni

Good Morning, can I offer a warm welcome to you.

My sincere apologies for the condition you are suffering from and understand the problems you are having, not that I've had any spinal injury, but other conditions and at times you do feel alone.

It's true that other people may have it tougher, but that's not the point here, we are talking about how restricted you are and how difficult it is for you to move around.

I can relate to how you have trouble with your legs, although I'm not as severe as what you have mentioned, I'm really so sorry for you.

You are fortunate to have a supportive family and to able to work from home, but know there is a time for healing, everybody wants to get better straight away, but sometimes we have to progress slowly, this has happened to me on several occasions, one time stuck in traction for 6 weeks to heal a broken hip and to get up and walk, I couldn't at first and then my legs were so heavy, so I understand what you are going through.

You know those days when there are times you don't feel like exercising, never believe this as failing, everybody has these, but we seem to take more notice when you're in a situation like you are in, but never be disencouraged, just keep walking half the block, you will know when you have more strength and more confidence, please don't push yourself too much, your body can only take as much as you want it too.

Now the stairs, they are difficult, try and go up another step, only one per day, but hang onto the rail, which I know you are.

All of this can take as long as you practise, I feel sorry for you and please let us know how you are going.

Best wishes.


Champion Alumni
Champion Alumni

Hello, I forgot to say is there a swimming pool you can have access to because you're weightless in the water and maybe able to move your legs much more freely.

I used to go swimming, well not so much that, but walking in the pool and bending your legs, goodness me it felt great.


Hi Geoff - thanks for your thoughtful reply. Your suggestion about the pool was really timely, when I read it, I asked my exercise physiologist about whether we could look at doing some hydrotherapy, which we will start next week. I think I'll ask my daughter to help me get to the library at least one day next week (school holidays start tomorrow). It's a bit further than my half block but we could sit and rest a bit before heading back and we can both choose some books together.

Hi, thanks for getting back to me and I know hydrotherapy makes the body feel free, I could move in the pool whereas out of it there was no way until I got better.

How about having a spa afterwards?


Community Member

I realise it is hard to stay focused and positive but you need to look forward and think what are some ways I can help myself. A really good idea is to get some books of a genre you enjoy and emerse yourself in the reading world. There are many topic's you can read about maybe get in contact with local library.


When it comes to exercise you could possibly get a stationary bike to exercise at home to stay fit. There is also activities like meditation which can help with the mind and positive things. It is important to remember that your condition does not define you and you are much more then your disability. 


The thing is you must find activities that help you heal and recover and do things that you enjoy for me it was a long time before I found an exercise I loved to do maybe talk to the physio to find out what are the appropriate exercises. 


You must have apositive forward thinking mindset and not worry about what you can't control and focus your energy on what you can. Ill use me as an example I can't get my licence due to my epilepsy but I don't focus on it . I do things that push me forward and make me stronger. Remember you must take a step at a time and acheive what you can . You can be super man but take it a day at a time one day at a time.


You must not loose hope and remember there is a candle that is there and the wonderful beyond blue community here to love and support you and it is worth it to keep fighting because you definitly have the strength with in your heart and mind.


Remember you are more powerful then you realise and you can stand up to adversity and overcome your disability.