I brought my blue gait belt to Ai Ai and Tim’s house and just recently realized it has been hung on the same hook as the family’s Tae Kwan Do belts. Just the sight of it made me laugh and laugh, so I took a picture of it for you.
I never wore a gait belt at RIO (3rd Hospital) but was too unaware to notice at the time, and in retrospect I was more in the full-body-contact stage of mobility acquisition so it was an assumption that someone was always either holding on to me or within an inch of me so it didn’t really matter. I haven’t looked it up but I figure that if you’re falling and you’re wearing a gait belt it’s an easy thing for your Therapist to grab on to to help you out.
The Therapist can also sense any irregular/distressed movements on your part very quickly if (s)he is holding your belt. While I was at The Place A (6)’s holding technique evolved from the full palm grasp to just keeping a couple of fingertips on the belt near the end of my first outpatient stint. It was during this time that Therapists suggested to me (if they thought I was nervous) that I could try doing X in the parallel bars first, or put on a gait belt so I’d feel safer. I would always get in the bars and/or don a belt but I would be thinking, Yeah, this SO doesn’t help.
Now that I’ve been working with M (37) at Planet Rehab I’ve progressed to the point where the belt has also become a sort of steering system like I’m a horse and M is holding the reins. When we’ve been traipsing around the hospital and I’ve instinctively avoided a hole in the ground by walking around it, I’ve felt a little tugging around my middle. M has decreed that there will be no avoiding of grass potholes – she uses the gait belt to ensure that I know how to step through uneven terrain, not just avoid it. (“Did I mention that I’m not wearing my brace?” I asked one day. She was unmoved. In fact, she LOVES it when I don’t wear the brace since she’s been trying to wean me off of it.)
The gait belt’s functions in my experience have been to 1) facilitate fall prevention, 2) increase the patient’s sense of safety/confidence so (s)he’ll try new things, and 3) steer the patient’s movements in a particular direction. The parallels to the Armor of God’s Belt of Truth are obvious. I listened to a message a few years ago on the radio that challenged believers to suit up every day with the Armor of God before you leave your house because it’s a sure thing that you’re going to need it.
Even if we’re not talking about armor, think about a suit. Suits have become less prevalent in our increasingly business-casual or just casual work environments, but I used to wear suits occasionally, especially when I wasn’t feeling confident about the way I looked since a jacket will cover you up nicely. My favorite was a dark navy (or was it black?) pantsuit with blue pinstripes spaced about an inch apart with a dark red dashed line in the middle of each stripe. All the colors were dark but it was more interesting than what I usually saw in the Washington, D.C. landscape. When I wore that outfit I felt an immediate boost of confidence since it was familiar – I knew how to wear it, and I was like, Nothing bad’s going to happen to me in this suit.
Yeah – I’m about 8 sizes away from fitting into that suit and everything else in my old closet so it’s just as well that I didn’t bring a lot of things home with me. But you know what always fits? The Belt of Truth. I’m always more conscious of my middle when I’m wearing a literal belt; and the intentional wearing of the Belt of Truth makes me more aware of how often I should be using my core. It will keep me from falling, make me feel safe so I can walk with confidence, and tell me where to go.
Ephesians 6.14 “Stand firm, then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist…”