Most of us are familiar with the word ‘Physiotherapy’ and are probably aware that physiotherapy is frequently prescribed after certain surgeries or injuries. But how many know all of the other ways in which a good therapist can make an enormous difference following a serious illness for instance or invasive treatments such as chemotherapy? Physiotherapy is a safe, healthy and non-invasive way to restore your body to health and keep the machine which keeps you alive, ticking over nicely.
As I have stated several times in this column, it is essential to move around a lot every day. Not only does it prevent joint stiffness or damage through doing the same thing repeatedly, but it will alleviate pain and energise you and restore mobility in many cases.. There are specific treatments for every kind of health problem and a knowledgeable Physiotherapist can teach you which exercises are the ones you need to regain and maintain optimum health.
This column started with asking a question - do you know the many ways in which Physiotherapy can help beyond post-op surgery or injury? The reason for that is because I suspect the answer will generally be ‘no and because I want to share, with his permission, a patient’s story and the message he recently sent to me. I will refer to him by his initial “A”. I was requested to go and see him at his home as he was bed-ridden, having been returned from Doctors Hospital following chemotherapy for Lymphoma. (Lymphoma is a cancer of the lymphatic system, which is part of the body's germ-fighting network. The lymphatic system includes the lymph nodes (lymph glands), spleen, thymus gland and bone marrow. Lymphoma can affect all those areas as well as other organs throughout the body.) this was his message to me:
”A TESTAMENT TO A PHYSICAL THERAPIST WHO HELPED BRING ME BACK FROM BEING BEDRIDDEN. After being taken home from Doctors Hospital by Ambulance on a stretcher and plonked in our matrimonial bed on the second floor of our house, it only took a day or so for my wife to realize I had to be on the ground floor and needed a hospital bed. I was lying in bed, having been an active sporting man, wondering if I ever would have a normal life again. Then along came Hannah Foster-Middleton a physiotherapist, and an ex-nurse, recommended by my good friend (an important member of my recovery team) Dr Richard Van Tooren. This very strong lady was able to pick me out of bed and put me in a wheel chair. She came to our house, which she does not usually do for clients and continued to, as I believe she thought I was worth the effort, and she could see I was really trying. She seemed to know exactly when I had reached my limit. She changed my mental attitude to positive –“ you can do it”. Over just a couple months, she got me to stand on my own, go the bathroom by myself, use a walker, graduate to crutches, climb the stairs in our house to the third floor (originally I was scared of stairs as my legs were still very weak), then a walking stick which I really do not use and carry it for safety. One day she said I am not coming to your house any more, you have to come my office (called Genesis in Grosvenor Court off Shirley St). So I had to learn to get into the car. So now I am driving myself there and have been for about six weeks and am still attending. She has an excellent assistant called Seanea who finds a new exercise for me to do using muscles I never knew I had. You can be sure the next morning I feel it. As a result I can now make it to the third floor of my house, drive myself to office downtown, Nassau and hope to start playing golf again soon, thanks to the efforts of Hannah. A.”
The reason for telling “A’s” story is, firstly, I am sure Physiotherapy would not have been your first thought for this illness or following chemotherapy and secondly what can be achieved in seemingly impossible situations. Working together, patient and practitioner can achieve amazing things. Never give up - it’s always worth the effort.
PT. Hannah Foster