The practice of physical therapy is rooted in evidence-based science, which can entail a rigid clinical objectivity. However, another major component of our practice involves an innate belief in the power of the human spirit and will. While part of our job is to motivate patients to push the boundaries of what they’re capable of, it is ultimately the patients who inspire us to do what we do.
The American Physical Therapy Association’s official consumer information website has compiled a list of inspirational physical therapy success stories. Below are a couple stories we found to be very inspirational.
“Don’t Let the Odds Get to Your Head”
One patient had been a competitive swimmer since high school. Consequently, they were constantly suffering shoulder injuries. As a result, the patient underwent constant physical therapy over the course of five years. The intense mental and physical challenge caused them to think they would never conquer their injuries.
The patient eventually required shoulder surgery. Their post-operative condition called for wearing a sling, which immobilized them for 3 months.
After those 3 months, the patient had to start physical therapy all over again.
At first, they couldn’t lift a 1-pound weight. Over time, doctors started to believe they wouldn’t swim again. But through hard work and perseverance, the patient began to recover strength and mobility.
Today, the patient is pursuing a career in the Navy as a rescue swimmer, using their new-found strength to save lives. The patient’s advice: “Don’t let the ‘odds’ get to your head because your mentality is going to be what makes or breaks you.”
“Nowhere Near the End of the Race”
Charlie was diagnosed with a degenerative macular disease as a child, which causes progressive blindness. However, Charlie and his family fought against the notion that his disability defined or restricted him.
Although Charlie’s blindness progressively worsened over the years, he retired at age 55 after a full life, earning 2 master’s degrees, raising 3 children, and teaching middle school for 32 years.
While retirement signals the end of a demanding lifestyle for most, to Charlie it meant the beginning of a new challenge. Over the next 20 years, he achieved a competitive level ability in running – completing several endurance races and marathons.
Ironically, Charlie’s visual disability wasn’t as much of an obstacle as his running injuries were. Charlie sustained meniscal tears in his knees, a rotator cuff tear, multiple hernias, and pinched nerves in his spine, leaving him unable to walk or run. Among the doctors he consulted, most recommended he quit running. But one surgeon and a physical therapist saw Charlie’s potential and a chance to let him continue chasing his passion for endurance running.
Charlie underwent a laminectomy to decompress his spinal nerves. Although the operation was successful, recovery was one of the biggest challenges he faced.
“I didn’t have sight and then lose it,” said Charlie. “I had my ability to swim, bike, and run, and it was taken away from me. So I fought really, really hard to get it back. And I did.”
Charlie applied the same tenacity of his endurance running to his physical therapy. Now, the legally blind 73 year-old grandfather of 4 is once again training for endurance races, noting “I’m nowhere near the end of the race.”
ProFysio Physical Therapy - Inspiring Recovery in Monmouth County
As physical therapists at ProFysio Physical Therapy, we are constantly amazed and inspired by the strength, courage, and tenacity of all our patients. Many of our patients overcame adversities like the patients in the stories above. We’ve seen patients surmount incredible odds so they could pursue their life’s passion, whether they’re 20-year-olds in competitive equestrian riding or 70-year-olds simply resuming an active membership at their gym. We are grateful to our patients for their hard work and determination. You are our inspiration.
Call us at (732) 333-6360, or contact us online to schedule an appointment with us today.