For nearly 3 years, I’ve been working with Michael as his primary clinician for physical therapy. Within the past month, I decided to move to a different physical therapy location in Ft. Worth Texas. A few weeks before the change was made, Michael and I discussed his physical therapy needs moving forward. I wasn’t sure it would be realistic for Michael’s caregivers to drive the extra distance to follow me to my new clinic, but after discussing it with them, they agreed it would be possible so that he could continue working with me at my new clinic, ClearCut Ortho Physical Therapy. While change can be difficult, this transition has been smooth for Michael’s treatment. We were able to discharge him my last week at Green Oaks Physical Therapy and then get him evaluated at ClearCut the very next week, the same day and time as his normal treatments.
As far as changes in treatment activities, ClearCut has a high-low table (meaning it moves up and down) that is very wide and allows for more room while transferring from supine to side-lying and back. The high-low table that I used at my previous clinic was much narrower, making it difficult, and much more of a challenge to position Michael, especially on those rare occasions when I had to work with him by myself.
They also have more equipment that will allow for different activities to be attempted. For example, there is a firm wedge that can be placed under Michael while he’s in a sitting position to challenge his seated balance. This particular exercise also works to help increase engagement of his core. With new brains to be picked, we are encouraging other therapists to make suggestions for new treatment ideas to progress in core strength as well as range of motion of limited flexibility in his joints.
Every other week, just like at Green Oaks, I will need assistance on days that we transfer and work on seated balance as well as stretching of his lower extremities while on the therapy table. We will have help from one of the other therapists or the massage therapist who also acts as a technician. This will be beneficial as he is knowledgeable in different anatomy terms and understands how the muscles fibers run and can be helpful with suggestions as well.
Since Michael and I have been working together for so long, I already knew all of his history and previous measurements. This allowed me to be able to assist in the initial evaluation at ClearCut, along with a Physical Therapist who Michael is familiar with, as she used to work with us at Green Oaks Physical Therapy. This made the measurements during the initial evaluation go quickly, which made it possible for Michael to receive a full treatment, including stretching, to decrease any stiffness that may have occurred if he was to skip a week of these activities.
Michael saw great improvements with the help of all of the great clinicians and technicians at Green Oaks Physical Therapy, and we both look forward to seeing what kind of improvements and modifications we can make in his plan of care moving forward at ClearCut Ortho Physical Therapy.
======================== Patient Perspective ========================
When you work with the same physical therapist for nearly 3 years, you tend to build a relationship with this individual. Since physical therapy is a long-term commitment for many of us with SMA, I knew that changes would happen from time to time. Physical therapists come and go, but finding the right physical therapist can sometimes be extremely difficult.
When Emily informed me that she would be moving to a new outpatient clinic, my heart was broken. Emily is not just my physical therapist, she’s my friend. She knows more about me than most of my immediate family, and I know that she always has my best interest at heart. She not only understands me as an SMA patient, but she’s also there for me to talk to and share my concerns with. I wonder how many people can say that they have this level of trust and confidence in their physical therapist?
I’m also extremely fortunate to have caregivers that also understand how important my physical therapy is. After learning that they would agree to drive the extra distance so that I could remain working with Emily, it was as if someone had lifted a 500-pound weight off my shoulders. While this is going to be a new journey in Emily’s life, I’m very fortunate that she’ll get to continue working with me in my journey. This journey is for the rest of my life, and I’m glad that she’s going to be a part of it.
If you’re a physical therapist, please understand that the impact that you have on your patients may not be purely physical. Emotions will always come into play when you work with someone for a long period of time. Please realize that your patient’s mental strength can be just as important as their physical strength.