Sunday, September 16, 2007

Physical Therapy

I went through 6 weeks of physical therapy for my major joints (shoulders, hips, knees, elbows). I had detectable improvement in most joints - including my ankles. My PTs and I decided to brace one shoulder and one knee since no matter what we tried I could not keep my shoulder in place nor my knee from bending backwards.

The braces are interesting to live with. The shoulder brace is designed for stroke patients who have lost the use of an arm and need to keep from subluxing the shoulder. It works really well, and even (almost!) eliminated the tension and pain from my neck and shoulder blade! Problem is, since I can still move my arm, it has started to rip. The knee brace has special straps we adjusted to keep my knee from bending backwards. It was interesting to watch me walk for the first 4 weeks of use; I felt like I was learning to walk again.

Though the braced joints are strengthening, I have had problems with my skin. If a brace slips and pinches, then I have bruising that not only hurts under the brace, but seem to not want to heal. On two separate days the heat index climbed past 100 F and I developed a heat rash under both braces. I have started going "brace free" on Sundays to try to promote healing of my skin because in both areas it is now red and blotchy and not wanting to heal. Realizing that the rashes are also itchy and when braced you cannot reach the skin to scratch . . . I've started looking for other options.

I could continue with PT, but it is impossible to go while holding my job. I would have to take a day off twice each week for a half hour PT session. Since I have participated in Yoga on and off since college I know that it is not just about flexibility but many forms also promote strength. I started calling around to find a studio that had an instructor who held afternoon or evening classes and would be comfortable working with my challenges. One of my PTs suggested a studio his wife recently started at, which is actually located between my work and home. The head of the studio had me speak with one of her guest instructors who is a Yoga Therapist. I had not previously heard of a Yoga Therapist, but called and was impressed. This woman specializes in using Yoga to heal the body and believes, with the help of her colleague who is a doctor who specializes in naturopathy, that she can help further strengthen my joints and significantly reduce the pain and fatigue. I've agreed, and will have my initial session next week.

More later!