My life in (physical) Therapy

PT with BeckyI fell on my arm about a month ago. I was on an easy hike in Dupont, following a line of hikers on a mild downhill.

I felt that I was slipping and put out my arm behind me. I didn’t fall and continued walking.

That evening, my shoulder starting aching. It took me a while to attribute the pain to the simple arm movements that morning. The arm and shoulder were particularly painful when I reached behind me. It hurt when I put on or released my seat belt and used the cup holder. After a week, I realized that time, stretching, and a little R&R were not going to make the pain go away. It was time to be proactive and do something about it.

Don’t try this 30 years ago

My internist now has a Physician Assistant who holds a drop-in clinic for two hours a day. I dropped in. In a fit of efficiency that would have been impossible in “the good old days of medicine”, Luke ordered an x-ray and gave me a prescription for physical therapy. I immediately went to get that x-ray–no appointment needed– and continued on to Southeastern Sports Medicine to make an appointment with a physical therapist.

Luke called me that afternoon to let me know that the x-ray didn’t show any problems and that I was good to go with physical therapy.

Thirty years ago, this process would have take weeks. First, I would have waited a week or more to see a doctor. Another week or so for the x-ray and another week to get a letter in the mail with the results. I don’t know when this current model of medicine started but I love it.

Physical Therapy as magic
I went to see Becky at Southeastern Sports. I tumbled to them years ago, because frankly they had the word “Sports” in their name. And sure enough, the majority of patients seem to be high school students with sports injuries. It’s a huge practice with lots of equipment and staff.

Becky measured my range of motion, pushed and pulled and determined that “yes, I had a problem.” She started me on some simple exercises to stretch the shoulder. In the meantime, she didn’t want me to do any other upper body work. I do the exercises faithfully every morning in front of the TV, adding them to other exercises, given to me after previous PT events. Yes, it takes a long time but what’s the alternative?

Unfortunately, I’ve had my share of bumps, bruises, and falls. If you live long enough and are active, so will everyone. As I get older, I don’t have time to wait for my body to heal itself. Much of the time, taking it easy is the worst thing that you can do after an incident. If I sat around, I would lose muscle mass and make it harder to get back into shape. Physical therapy seems to be the quickest way to get over an injury.

I can now do most of the weight exercises in the gym. My shoulder has improved, though it’s not completely healed and I keep on stretching. Got to keep on moving.

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