WHAT I LEARNED FROM PHYSICAL THERAPY
We provide assistance in many areas to our clients. While we are not physical therapists, we work with our clients to keep them on track with their recommended exercises when they return home from rehab in a nursing home. We have found that so many times a senior is resistant to doing these exercises on their own, but we know that they key to them remaining ambulatory and strong is keeping up with those exercises at home when physical therapy is not there.
Until recently I never understood why some of our clients were so resistant to keeping on task and completing their daily exercise. I would walk into a client’s home and be their cheerleader by listing all of the benefits that they would receive by doing their physical therapy exercises. Just by taking 10 to 30 minutes of their time they would continue on the road to building their strength and that our caregivers were there to help them. Many times I was met with grimacing faces or sighs which I didn’t always fully understand.
So how does this tie into my own life lessons? As a young girl I could be a daredevil. I had no fear of riding my bike with no hands, head on down a steep hill barreling at goodness knows what speed at a time where helmets were unheard of. Climbing on garage roofs and jumping off narrowly escaping broken limbs, but my biggest fail was riding a skateboard down a steep driveway, hitting a crack and flying off and into a freshly cut pine tree. Scraped ribs, the wind knocked out of me and a knee that has never been the same. Despite that I kept with running, hiking, biking and heavy workouts but the end result has carried well on into my adult years and has occasionally haunted me with health problems.
I never fully dealt with them and they finally caught up to me a year ago when my knee gave out several times causing me to fall down flights of stairs several times while leaving the office. In April 2015, I finally gave resolve to getting physical therapy.
On the day I was scheduled for my 1st assessment visit I cancelled because I had a business meeting. Just a few short days later my life changed when headed into the office my knee gave out again and I took a fall that only the best of stuntwomen could have handled. The end result…a bruised and bloodied face that looked like I had been in a major boxing match, X-Ray’s, MRI’s, appointments with an orthopedic surgeon all to determine I had TWO sprained ankles, a dislocated kneecap and a fibula bone in my ankle that had been moved out of place. I could barely walk, stairs were no longer a possibility and I was off my feet for 3 day and no longer able to continue with my face –to- face marketing for our company.
I guess I was going to therapy…..
I was a star student in therapy. I did my exercise religiously slowly made progress and went through 3 rounds before my insurance cut me off in August. I went from not being able to do something as simple as bending down to scoop dog food out of a bin to feed my 3 dogs to being able to do knee bends, ride a bike and manage stairs better than I had in years. When I finished therapy I was on top of it as I had specific goals to achieve at the end of 90 days.
Soon though life began to get in the way. Without a set appointment at therapy I began to get up and just run to work or my first appointment of the day and promise myself that I’d do the exercises when I got home. But, of course there were only more excuses and obstacles. It’s now been almost 10 months since that fall and slowly I am beginning to slide back on my progress, managing steps is becoming difficult again, bending down to feed the dogs always involves a counter or table to hold onto for balance and pull me back up again.
I began to think about my clients and how they feel each day and how everyone really needs a cheerleader and a coach to help them along and be accountable. It is so often that we think that a simple task is just that…simple but that perhaps it’s more of a psychological decision as well. While I am ashamed to think I became a victim of my old habits. I am making it a goal to be my own cheerleader and to get back into action, but as I approach my clients I will face their anxiety and obstacles with a new perspective to provide them the support they need with the love they need to accomplish their goals.