In “My PT Story” posts, members of our staff share how their lives and the lives of those close to them have been impacted by physical therapy. Our goal is to further communicate PT’s value to other healthcare providers, patients, friends, and family to help raise awareness and elevate the profession. We believe you don’t have to be a PT to Promote PT!
When I started working at Therapydia, I thought I knew the value of Physical Therapy. Back in high school I suffered a nagging rotator cuff injury and eventual surgery that forced me to miss my junior year on the state tennis tournament circuit. At the time, my only dream in life was to become a college tennis player, and now I was missing the most important recruiting season. Obviously, I thought my life was over. But over the months I spent in rehabilitation I gained a great deal of respect for my physical therapists. Plus my visits were brightened by that cute PT assistant – he dutifully kept me company during my ten minutes on the “shoulder bike” and was such a big step above all the boys in my high school.
But I didn’t truly realize the value of therapy until much more recently. My husband and I have become friends with an older woman in our neighborhood named Barbara, who unfortunately is homebound due to suffering a stroke. When we first met her, she could barely even walk around her apartment without a cane, much less make the long trip to her front door and down the stairs to the street. So she spent her days alone in her tiny apartment. Sometimes when we would visit we would take her for a walk in her wheelchair and she would confess that she hadn’t been outside, or even had a visitor, in two weeks.
My husband and I were out of town for a few weeks this summer and when we came back we noticed a startling change in Barbara. For the first time, she greeted us with a big smile. “What had happened?” we asked. Over the past few weeks a physical therapist had begun visiting her apartment and giving her exercises to help her walk again. She proudly showed us the routine she was instructed to do every morning to rebuild her muscle tone. We took her in her wheelchair to Walgreens that day, and for the first time, she was able to walk the six blocks home. “The physical therapist told me if I keep doing my exercises, eventually I may be able to leave my apartment alone,” she told us excitedly.
And sure enough, a couple weeks later when we went to visit Barbara she told us proudly that yesterday, for the first time in over a year, she walked to the coffee shop on her corner all by herself. This is when I realized the value of physical therapy: the power to help someone not only re-gain her independence, but her smile.