The Long Cane (Part 1): Indoor Foot Travel

at the Veterans Administration Hospital
Hines Illinois orientation for the blind is under the close supervision and
guidance of the physical medicine rehabilitation service here in a
well-rounded program all the necessary medical and therapeutic services are
provided to aid in the reorganization of the blind patients mode of living mastering the techniques of foot travel
is a long and difficult struggle a struggle which the entire being of the
individual is involved mind body and will some have faltered a
few have lost out by far the greater number have mastered
this form of foot travel a great many totally and partially blinded veterans
have taken part in this learning men of various ages different levels of
intelligence and aptitudes typical of the complex problems facing the newly
blind is the case history of Charles McCain An orientor was assigned to familiarize
mccabe with his room the chief of the blind rehabilitation
section russ Williams is himself a blind veteran whose movements are guided only
by the expert use of the long cane as is his custom Williams makes it a
point to have a friendly talk with each new patient from these talks he gains
important information about the patient’s home life and fast Williams also endeavors to encourage
McCabe on the advantages in the use of the long cane the potential of the
orientation programme and what it can do for the individual is explained in the
company of another blind veteran for the first time since his blindness ok began to talk freely but there’s
nothing unusual about my story when I got back out of the hospital it I didn’t know how to get around or
anything and people tried to help me but it just seemed that they were pushing me
around my injury they expect to the Normandy invasion 1944 landmine
explosion left me with only partial vision but fortunately I had enough site
to go back to my former employment in about seven years later my site began to fail gradually at first
but finally completely all of this practically confine me to my
home was okay at first my family was glad two things for me they were more than willing to help your child I’ll do it for you it’s still jolly what station do you
want great jolly don’t come down those stairs alone you might get hurt yeah yeah Carol you know you can’t go out alone you might get hit by a car I know that
gets home he’ll take you for a walk yeah I soon found it was a prisoner in my own
home I overprotected family wouldn’t allow me
to move by myself so I wondered when they get fed up I didn’t have long the wait Charles am I
going to have to wait on you hand and foot for the rest of your life yeah life that reached the point where I
could no longer ignore my helplessness how long could I continue to ask my
family to be my personal servants I knew that I must do something to help
myself but what I was blind and it just seen the whole world had closed the ties
to my problem I was lost so I don’t know it I guess it’s about God made a lick McCabe there are no easy solutions to
these problems here under hand over this King along came the answer out of the
problems of the blind learn to the cane the right way and I think he’ll do you
begin to see daylight you become a person again not someone who travels just at the
convenience of others you move of your own not just here in
the hospital alone in the world outside the struggle Williams wand would there would be days when everything
would go wrong and further effort would seem useless but the day would come when
he could recognize progress finally toward completion of his 18-week course
the triumphant feeling of being able to navigate with the aid of the long cane
just as hundreds of others had done before and so Charles McCabe a veteran
of average health and ability on McCain’s birth day in the blind section
a fist guide him through the cafeteria line showing him how to find his table
and to see the sign to him carrying a tray full of food was a challenge Landing it safely was a victory yeah yeah yeah yeah soon after his arrival as with all
incoming patients the cave was interviewed by the
physiatrist who supervises the active line section Miguel ski an orientation therapist was
assigned to the cave the president was devoted to elementary
techniques following a sighted person even these
rudimentary teachings were new to the cake the hand of the blind on the elbow of
this guy but a half step behind the guy first the blind individual can easily be
guided by the movement of the site able to anticipate and follow through on
turns steps serves next Mykelti showed McCabe a technique
for putting the blind when navigating in familiar surroundings Tom held in front of his chest and
across his body the upper on the right angles of the shoulder the forearm parallel to the flip with
fingers extended in order to protect the far side body next morning’s Mykelti
showed the cave how to take direction from one piece of furniture by this time McCabe was becoming
familiar with room in the location of things to know where things weren’t able
to find them was a good feel at the end of the lesson Mykelti showed
the cave how to take a direction from his chair to the door and then out into
the hall later and he realized with the men’s
room yeah yeah yeah yeah I a mac come on keep it coming a cave learned how his arm protected him
and guided only by its miguel c voice he also to trail along a wall with the
back of his fingertips counting the door faces to locate
himself and use other hand for protection calling dr. Peters dr. short day wanted it surgery that
afternoons makowsky took the cave on a tour of other areas of the hospital it is necessary for the blind to develop
a sense of hearing and smell to such a degree that sounds and odors become
Clues clues that exists in a sighted person is awareness of space clues that
must be brought into sharp focus by the blind in mastering foot trap two days of
therapy had passed McCabe was still unsure of himself aware of the many
difficulties and navigation aware also of the need to interpret sounds to help
compensate for the loss of sight but on the credit side McCabe felt he knew the
general layout of the plan section and that he was making progress the next morning the cave was introduced
to the long cane Mykelti shown in the crossbody technique
a technique you familiar areas and then going up and down steps the cane is held well up in the crook
and turned outward in order to protect the patient’s knuckles from possible
injury the hand holding the cane is extended
about 12 to 18 inches in front of the hip in a diagonal across the body the tip of the cane in front of the
opposite foot an inch or two off the floor and passed the body McCabe learned that the crossbody
technique employs the long cane as a bumper the diagonal line of the cane
across the front of his body providing protection from injury as McCabe gain confidence his technique
improved in the blind section other therapeutic
activities are prescribed activities which was later proved helpful to the
individual patient in his bid for independence yeah yeah as a recreational activity McCabe took
up bowling and found that the game like everything else required practice yeah a general exercise program as part of
the prescribed treatment for each patient in the blind section here he
develops coordination and balance and maintains a normal degree of physical
fitness in the short time since his arrival ok
become friendly with Baker another blind veteran whose course of therapy it
started a few days before Mackay Apes on the cave this was the end of the
third day he had the optimism of one was made a good start a feeling that the
struggle was not nearly as difficult as he had picked the next day McCabe embarked on the touch technique
with the long cane ok Mac the crook of the cane is held
well back to the palm of the hand that’s it feel the pressure . under the base of
the thumb and on the third finger the index finger runs along the shaft of the
cane the other two fingers don’t do a thing they’re just along for the ride Miguel
ski emphasize that the grip those snug should be relaxed if held too loosely
the cane may flip with the wrist action in addition the sensitive Kane tip will
fail to send messages of the Bears arm indicating what is being touched now the wrist action Mac all the K not
in front of you move your wrist back and forth watch the forearm it’s rolling just the wrist however this that’s it McCabe then learned the proper arm
position in the touch technique extending his elbow from the center of
his body in the beginning you can all the cane out there too long you’re bound to get tired you’ve got to
find somewhere to rest your arm the question is where no that’s not it using the hip shortens the way for the k it also cancels out the center position
you might as well get this now Mac sliding off the center spot is a
weakness for many of our thoughts that’s it on a man of your build the
upper arm presses against your chest kk began to touch the cane tip from side
to side with a light pivoting motion of his wrist Miguel ski indicated the proper Ark of
the cane neither to Widener too small approximately the width of the caves
shoulders thus providing protection for both sides of his body McCabe was now ready to step up as his left foot came forward it’s entertain tip to his right as it right foot came forward the cane
went to his left and so on that was the river yeah yeah McKay began to put into practice the
fundamentals of the touch technique and his performance for all the marks of a
beginner for posture the shuffle of his feet and a lack of rhythm makowsky noted these as well as other
thoughts the return of McCabe’s habit of lifting
his wrist and rolling his forearm the gradual shifting of his elbow from the
important center position causing the Ark of his cane to move also to his
right Miguel ski was too wise and re-enter to
call the caves attention to all of these faults in time as the lessons proceeded
they would individually be worked out of his touch technique instead makowsky steered McCabe toward the wall
at the mercy of darkness McKay was beginning to realize the value
of the long cane as a sensitive probe his antenna to signal whether the
pathway clear the objective of McCabe’s next lesson
was to follow the sound of Miguel skis voice get that hand in the center your
arcs a little too right shut it down on the right that’s it keep
coming relax you’re too tense that’s it check the ark again keep
coming here I am that’s it back and forth Miguel ski maneuver his voice McCabe’s
only guide circling McCain later steering into a series of unexpected
obstacles McKay was able to freeze successfully
because his body was well-balanced flat on his feet still in the early stages of
learning foot travel McCabe deluded himself with the extent
of his progress and why not was he now able to navigate
the cafeteria line on his own as guides to his location he used the
edge of the serving counter the warmth of the steam tape and the cold of the
milk chest yeah now began the long hours of hard work to
improve his cane technique yeah so far McCabe learn the route of the
concourse the chapel the physiatrist socks and back to the corridor of the blind
section now and then spaghetti corrected McKay’s
technique reminding him to keep his arm centered to avoid the rolling motion of
his for you the next lesson was the proper method of
navigating a stairway first picking up the drop on the floor surface and
immediately freezing then coming to a starting position the cane tip on the shelf for the step
with the cane centered between the navigators feet next clearing the
stairway testing the depth of the top step and
it’s with then navigating the stairway using the crossbody technique the cane tip picking up the floor level
at the bottom of the lowest step now to send the stairway his cane
elevated to the height of the second step then on the third riser as he
ascends the first step and so on up the entire stairway right all the cave and prolly I’m you re enter
this morning now let’s see your lesson 14 in the
blind section it is the custom to rotate or e enters this provides against the
regularly assigned Orient are becoming habituated and thus less alert two flaws
in the patients came technique that day McKay was familiarized with various
areas in the canteen the next day the post office with its
mail slots and service manuals yeah ok then the barber shop near the conference
during each break the cave was reminded of defects in his technique you’re still not getting enough gain
coverage back maybe it’s the way you’re elevating the wrist retail like you’re shaking hands like
that that’s right let’s take off the next morning McKay was recalled to
the orientation clinic for a brush up . with Miguel ski back as his Orient that’s better grace make how come I’ve
been through this lesson days ago and it around there and it works Mac you’re
funny Baker’s as they don’t have on your back you’re coming along too fast yeah I’ll bet – McCabe this was so much time lost
within his mind a seed of doubt came to life about the extent of his progress
but in the week since he had embarked on the touch technique the cave had improve that evening Baker told McCabe that he
was ready to start outdoor therapy the next day the Cape saw his chances of
catching up with baker road in the next morning he was to have an even greater
setback yeah yeah that’s the problem Mac I I don’t know ok let’s call it a day can’t be shut up before I have no way to make you
talk but if you’re on it if you were no enemy
of Jimmy weapon be willing to know you’re all the barrier and i believe
were you everything you got everything he responsible what cleaned in South
Pass with his census targeting your eyes don’t let the moon
break your heart love blooms tonight and a lighted eyes the lets his five getting
your ride to keep her hi for me ok began to recall and feel the attitude
of the other people you got company sorry yeah I’ll take a feat text here
i’ll keep your flowers I got a 10 high straight oh you know what just his home said know
what did he say no man should put his flip down unless
he knows that the sidewalk is under what I can’t figure out is why they started
find trees and bring the sides or what are to look for you go and smitty i’m
not many outweighs the electro- be a handicap boy that was it rots Williams
said learn to you became the right way I
think you begin to see daylight if others could overcome the handicap why couldn’t McCain yeah yeah yeah yeah yeah yeah yeah yeah yeah yeah yeah ok right story thank you me and so Charles
McKay breached the first level in the reorganization process of the blind
patient he had learned the fundamentals of the proper use of the long cane the
borders of McKay’s world had expanded from his bedroom the center of his existence to the
various areas of the hospital meanwhile he had maintained an excellent
record of progress in the other activities of the blind section yeah yeah at the end of the second week of the
capes therapy he was ready to go outdoors soberly with
a more realistic concept of what lay ahead he met Miguel all of his illusions about
the ease of the struggle were gone before Mackay blade daylight the outside world yeah yeah yeah yeah yeah yeah yeah yeah

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