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batemanb 02-10-2006 03:11 AM

Absent Patellae
 
I've just had someone contact me with a view to their son practicing Aikido. He has absent patellae. but has been given the OK by his doctor to partake in physical activity. He can apparently ride a bike, but frequently has stability issues which cause him to fall. I've not had any experience with students suffering this problem, so have no benchmarks to work with. I'm not a doctor, so have no medical expertise to compare with either.

I can see how some parts of practice could possibly help strengthen muscles and ligaments, and could possibly help with balance and stability. I can see how ukemi can help with the falling, but I wonder about the effect of turning and pivoting will have on his knees, not to mention the possibility of suwari waza (I'm not making the assumption that I would get him to do suwari waza...)?

Has anyone else had any experience training with anyone suffering this?

rgds

Bryan

Mark Freeman 02-10-2006 04:58 AM

Re: Absent Patellae
 
Hi Bryan,

I've not had experience training with anyone suffering this particular problem. However, in my view, as long as the student has clearance from a doctor, they should be encouraged to train whatever their 'disability'. Aikido can and should be practiced by anyone/everyone in the spirit of O'Sensei's wishes.
This does however mean that teachers need to be able to adapt to those students who may not be so 'able'.
My own experience is this: I started my aikido training with a man who the medical profession believed 'should not be walking' considering he had had a childhood disease (polio I think) that had left him with virtually no muscle strength from the hips down, that coupled with the fact that early on a number of operations had fused his ankle bones so his feet were left permanently crooked.
He believed that it was his practice of aikido that kept him out of a wheelchair. The mental/physical co-ordination most of us take for granted, for him was a moment by moment task just to stay upright!
Consequently he could not rely on lower body strength to 'power' his way through aikido technique. He developed an increadibly soft and powerful ki lead approach, which I felt on many occasions making ukemi for his demonstration of an exercise. :D :D This of course has influenced my own practice and teaching.
I now have an older lady practicing with me who has ME and osteoporosis, anyone practicing with her has to be increadibly respectful of her physical limitations. She loves the practice and the mental / physical discipline has improved the quality of her life off the mat. Which is, as far as I am concerned, the main reason for practicing aikido.

In conclusion, I would encourage you to welcome him in, and do all you can for his progress. If he can't do particular exercises, so what, he ( and you ) will in time learn to adapt. I think everyone benefits from having the widest range of students practicing.

Just my humble two penneth worth,

cheers
Mark

crbateman 02-10-2006 06:27 AM

Re: Absent Patellae
 
Bryan, perhaps his parents would consent to a conversation between you and his doctor, so you could gain perspective on the limitations of his condition, and the doctor could get a feel for the training regimen, and pooh-pooh any activity (suwari-waza, shikko, seiza, for instance) that he feels might be detrimental.

Also, I would definitely get his folks to sign a waiver (I'm sure you've already thought of that). One added benefit that the boy might gain from his training is the increased ability to recognize and refrain from those things that he should not do with his condition (although you don't say how old he is, so I don't know if that level of judgement is within his grasp yet).

Teaching children with special needs can be a very rewarding thing. You will often find them imbued with incredible drive and thirst for knowledge. This attitude will be infectious with others in your group. Good luck to you both.

batemanb 02-10-2006 06:32 AM

Re: Absent Patellae
 
Hi Mark,

thanks for the input. I was asking the questions because I do want to have him train, I think it will be beneficial to him. Having said that, my junior class has a wide age range, so I am already spreading myself thin with regards to time per student, I wouldn't want to impact this too much, as I have a duty to the kids already in the class. If I can do something to facilitate him training, I will do it gladly, my own opinion is that anyone who wants to train should. Whilst not trying to digress my own thread, I was also approached last night by a lady 4 months pregnant who was enquiring about training with her husband. My initial thoughts were yes, just as tori, no ukemi etc. But I'm having second thoughts....................

rgds

Bryan

MaryKaye 02-10-2006 08:37 AM

Re: Absent Patellae
 
Can you enlist another adult (or older kid) to help with the classes? Even a fairly junior adult can be quite helpful in keeping the teacher from being spread so thin.

I was an assistant coach in our kids' classes from a point where, frankly, my aikido was about on a level with theirs. But I could sit in the line with them and keep them from poking each other, let them yank my arm while learning pins so that they weren't yanking each others', etc.

Mary Kaye

Janet Rosen 02-10-2006 01:15 PM

Re: Absent Patellae
 
w/ no patella and falling due to lack of stability, i doubt any doctor would ok suwariwaza (note he okd 'physical activity' unspecified) and i'd suggest that he simultaneously outside dojo be doing quads and hamstring strengthening plus plyometrics all under supervision to compensate for his disability.

Mark Freeman 02-11-2006 06:06 AM

Re: Absent Patellae
 
Quote:

Bryan Bateman wrote:
I was also approached last night by a lady 4 months pregnant who was enquiring about training with her husband. My initial thoughts were yes, just as tori, no ukemi etc. But I'm having second thoughts....................

Bryan,
difficult one, your call, good luck.

I did watch a 3rd dan grading many years ago, the woman taking it was about 5/6 months pregnant. She was only about 5' tall and had quite a 'bump' on front. There were audible gasps in the dojo when she faced a live tanto attack directed at the stomach. She just smiled throughout and dealt with it as if it was no big deal, Awesome!
She didn't have to make ukemi though.

Cheers
Mark

batemanb 02-11-2006 11:25 AM

Re: Absent Patellae
 
Quote:

Mark Freeman wrote:
Bryan,
difficult one, your call, good luck.

I did watch a 3rd dan grading many years ago, the woman taking it was about 5/6 months pregnant. She was only about 5' tall and had quite a 'bump' on front. There were audible gasps in the dojo when she faced a live tanto attack directed at the stomach. She just smiled throughout and dealt with it as if it was no big deal, Awesome!
She didn't have to make ukemi though.

Cheers
Mark

I wouldn't be so bothered about someone who's been practicing for a while continuing to practice whilst pregnant, certainly not someone going for sandan. I'm more worried because she's a first timer, more chance of her perhaps losing balance, certainly less aware on the mat so may not be able to avoid someone falling infront of/ into her etc.

aikidoc 02-11-2006 07:03 PM

Re: Absent Patellae
 
Perhaps a knee brace would be indicated for stability.

Mark Freeman 02-12-2006 08:17 AM

Re: Absent Patellae
 
Quote:

Bryan Bateman wrote:
I wouldn't be so bothered about someone who's been practicing for a while continuing to practice whilst pregnant, certainly not someone going for sandan. I'm more worried because she's a first timer, more chance of her perhaps losing balance, certainly less aware on the mat so may not be able to avoid someone falling infront of/ into her etc.

I think if it were me, I might council her to wait until after the birth and subsequent recovery. If she starts now, things are only going to get more difficult as the pregnancy progresses, so stopping practice is probably not that far away anyway.

Cheers
Mark

billybob 02-14-2006 12:59 PM

Re: Absent Patellae
 
Hi,

My good friend has a knee 'held together with bailing wire' in his own words. He has been a Sandan for a couple years now.

I think you need two things:

1. More information. Find out what the limitations are - I know the patella is protective, and gives greater 'angle' for leverage, but did they tie the ligaments together? What does this guy's knee look like from an ortho's perspective.

2. Let the student drive - being very body aware and feeling no pressure to 'show off'. Any class you walk away from is a good class.

Have fun. I've used aikido as impetus to heal some pretty nasty old injuries. Healing is stronger than fear.

dave


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