My (husband’s) experience with physiotherapy
Physiotherapy is a specialized practice that centers on helping people regain optimal health and strength after an injury, sudden health event like a stroke, or when suffering from a chronic condition. After my husband broke his leg in 2002, he spent over a month in physiotherapy. Well, technically, it wasn’t broken – he stepped off a rock in a stream, and bent his foot until his toes touched his shin. (My apologies to squeamish readers – if it makes you feel better, I cringe every time he tells that story.) It was bad enough that he needed to spend 6 – 8 weeks in a cast. When his foot was released, not only was it weakened by the injury, the muscles were somewhat atrophied from the time spent in the cast.
If he hadn’t gone through physiotherapy after his cast was removed, he would probably still be in pain and walking with a limp. He had no side-to-side strength in his ankle at all by the end of those 8 weeks. The specific exercises given to him by the therapists helped him regain his strength and flexibility, so he was able to return to his (very physical) construction job.
The therapist taught him the exercises in twice-weekly sessions, and gave him some equipment and exercises to do at home. The tools used in physiotherapy can be deceptively simple – elastic bands and diagrams of the special stretches and exercises – so even your bedroom can be turned into a physiotherapy treatment room as you rehabilitate from your injury. Physiotherapy is really all about well aligned movements and repetitions, and my husband had excellent therapists that encouraged him to work hard. He ended up doing his stretches and exercises as much as five times daily. Now, some therapists would actually advise against that, as it could overwork the injured area and leave it vulnerable to re-injury. Thankfully, my husband recovered well – he was careful to listen to his body and not overdo his exercises – but it is very possible to overwork the injured area, so always consult your therapist on how often and how long to exercise.
Some of the exercises that he had to do were simple – pointing his toes, tracing letters of the alphabet in the air, then flexing to stretch the calf muscles. Sometimes he would do those same movements, but would use a wide elastic band held in his hands and hooked over his toes to create more resistance. And one of the first exercises the therapists would have him do every session at physiotherapy central was ride the exercise bike at a specific level of resistance.
All this sounds so simple and common-sense that some people think “I could do this on my own!” – PLEASE don’t try this on your own! Physiotherapists go through a lot of training to learn proper body mechanics and the right way to retrain the body. Always consult a professional to help you recover from a major life event. There are a number of professional organizations offering quality services of physiotherapy in Central. The right physiotherapy can add years of living to your life.