Question: How can I tell if physical therapy actually works? Answer: By the power of testimony.
Let me tell you a story. The year is 2011.
LMAFO’s Party Rock Anthem blares from the Bluetooth speaker system at the tennis courts.
In her Champion-workout tee and tennis skirt, Aimee Henderson is flying across the court. Diving forward to keep a short ball from pulling her out of the lead, she trips and lands with her elbow catching the brunt of the force.
While her elbow stopped her face from being shredded, it resulted in excruciating pain in her shoulder. The pain came from her tearing the labrum of the shoulder off, front to the back, and knocking her shoulder completely out of the socket.
She’d torn it so significantly, the only fix was surgery and physical therapy. After surgery – that installed three anchors to hold the ligaments together, and two years of intense physical therapy under her belt, she figured she was back to as good as it was going to get when it came to using her shoulder.
Fast forward ten years… Aimee reaches to grab something for her daughter only to have her shoulder fall out of the socket again. From her prior experience ten years ago, she knew it was bad and going to require further care. With a sinking feeling in her belly, she threw herself together one-armed as best as she could, and headed to the doctor.
The doctor took a look, did some poking and prodding, and suggested physical therapy…again. Looking at her doc, Aimee said:
“You know this isn’t going to work, right?”
She knew exactly what was going on with her shoulder, but she decided to listen to her doctor and try six weeks of physical therapy again. She would check that block off, so to speak.
Having had a previous introduction to Cardin & Miller through her daughter, she immediately said, “Okay, then I want to see Rebekah, Bek, at Cardin & Miller for my physical therapy.”
The doctor agreed and scheduled to meet back up six weeks later.
Aimee: When Physical Therapy Is The Answer
Strolling into Cardin & Miller like a bolt of lightning, she declared, “Bek, I’m back. And I’m going to need you to fix me!”
After the initial assessment, they both were pretty sure that Aimee was going to need further surgery on her shoulder.
As an Army spouse and mother of two, she was not one to waste time. Aimee and Bek used those six weeks of physical therapy to work together to strengthen the muscle all around the shoulder and in the arm, back, and neck.
Even though she was still having tremendous trouble with her shoulder, she was pleasantly surprised to find that Bek was able to teach her some different taping techniques that gave her some relief from the constant terrible pain those entire six weeks!
She had expected this period of physical therapy time to be like the last time, prior to surgery that had caused her shoulder tremendous stress.
It was in pain all the time and was basically unusable. But now, here she was able to minimally use her shoulder, relatively pain-free. Six weeks passed in the blink of an eye, and Aimee found herself back in front of her doctor. Sure enough, he confirmed what she knew: she needed surgery again.
With her second surgery scheduled for 3 weeks later, Aimee sought permission to continue PT right up to the date of surgery. Aimee explained how much Bek had helped her increase her range of motion, minimize her pain, decrease how often and how easily the shoulder completely fell out of the socket, and get a better night’s sleep. Her doctor readily agreed.
He also acknowledged how much PT had helped this time around. Together, Bek and Aimee went on a mission to get her muscles as strong as possible and to not lose any range of motion right up until surgery day!
Questioning The Doctor
After working a few weeks with Aimee, Bek’s expert knowledge of the body caused her to realize that there was also something going on with Aimee’s bicep.
There were too many things causing her bicep pain that shouldn’t. Bek’s concern led to Aimee, on surgery day, sitting in pre-op to tell her surgeon, “My PT thinks that there might be something going on with my bicep. While you’re in there, would you mind looking around to see? She just thinks there is something going on with it.”
Recalling this, Aimee acknowledged how glad she was that he agreed, and thought enough of her physical therapist to actually look around. It turned out that Aimee’s bicep was messed up.
It had stretched and torn with only one little tendon still left holding on. Because of Bek noticing something wasn’t right during her physical therapy, Aimee’s surgery day led to the discovery of an originally-placed anchor being broken and that she needed to have her bicep tendons reattached.
After the surgery, Aimee was concerned she had done something wrong. She questioned the doctor, asking him what she had done wrong.
Ten years ago, she knew that she clearly had done something major to result in this injury, but this time around, she couldn’t think of a thing. The doctor told her reaching to the right was nothing she shouldn’t be able to do, which is why they put in nine anchors in the shoulder this time instead of three.
Looking back on things now, she thinks her PT with Bek and yielding to Bek’s expertise was what made all of the difference!
She said she knows that was what made this surgery so much better than the previous surgery. Plus, she knew that if Bek could whip her teenage daughter in shape and get her to the point where she not only chose to come but WANTED to continue PT with Bek, she could handle the whining 40-year-old.
You see, when she reinjured herself, Aimee just got sad. She got really bummed out because she realized that it was going to be such a struggle to get back to what was going to be her “normal” (not even 100%). And she knew that she was going to be continually in pain, would have to have surgery, and then have to have two years of PT to get better.
Knowing that it would be a substantial amount of time before she could pick up her groceries, that working out would go back to being a distant memory, that brushing her hair would become a huge challenge she had to overcome daily, that she’d not be able to feel the wind blowing in her face as she rode on the back of a beautiful stead … these caused Aimee to come into PT mopey. And grumpy. And whiney.
But Bek was a trooper – realized this was difficult for Aimee – and treated her like a human being the whole way through.
Bek continually pointed out the things that she would be able to get back to in no time, acknowledged the struggle, and made sure to encourage any milestones Aimee made along the way. Her attitude and actions caused Aimee to have a more positive outlook on the whole situation.
This, Aimee points out, was a miracle in itself!
Now, we are here. Aimee is back to riding on her horse, running and working at the gym, busting out push-ups with her husband, and living a full and functional life with her children, with the knowledge of proper body mechanics and how to continue to build strength.
She continues to maintain her level of strength in all the areas around her shoulder and does her PT exercises regularly.
Aimee mentioned that what she really loved about coming to physical therapy at Cardin & Miller was that she received a one-on-one experience, and that they focused on the identifiable goals that she wanted and needed to reach!
Not only that, but she also enjoyed the relationships she made with Bek and everyone at Cardin & Miller. In doing that before her surgery, she trusted the team to handle her post-rehab therapy implicitly.
She stated that she was so surprised, not only that they were able to hold onto the range of motion, but that the surgeon trusted Bek enough to get Aimee out of the sling and allowed movement right away after surgery. Both she and her surgeon knew what Bek was capable of, and that knowledge allowed her to trust the process in her recovery so much more.
Physical Therapy: Are You Ready?
This is only one story that we could tell you. We’ve helped countless people get back to their best, preventing dependency on prescription drugs, and warding off potential mental health issues. It is well documented that constant discomfort, or an inability to continue with activities and daily life, can have a detrimental impact on your moods and mental balance.
Ready to take the next step and seek professional assistance? You can get in touch with us through our contact page, or you can visit our Carlisle physical therapy clinic, Harrisburg clinic, or Mechanicsburg location in person.