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Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Getting with the Physical Therapist

After a Physician's Assistant at my doctor's office gave me a prescription for six sessions of physical therapy (at my request), I asked my gym trainer, Clara, for a recommendation. I asked if she could recommend somebody she herself could work with and has worked with. She recommended Paul T. here in town. I made an appointment and met with Paul for the first time today.

He runs a one-man office in a converted older house on a busy street where all of the older homes are now businesses. When I arrived he was working with an older woman on some equipment in his office, and nobody was at the front desk. I could see that he is a relaxed, friendly sort of person who doesn't stand on ceremony. I learned a little later (when I paid the bill) that he also doesn't deal well with modern conveniences like microwaves and credit cards.

I had filled out the forms ahead of time, because they were available on the website, except one intake form that wasn't. So I was ready to go. When my time finally came Paul led me to a side room that has some patient exam tables and other equipment in it. I sat on the exam table while Paul asked questions about what is going on with me and made notes.  We then moved into the exam part. He tested various parts of me, focusing on my legs and feet (I didn't bring up the shoulder issues because they have become less of a problem). Tests involved strength tests of my legs in different positions, range of motion tests, angles of alignment (knees and hips), and even the degree of flatness of my feet (not all that bad, actually; he said the arthritis makes them seem worse than they are). He also tested reflexes in my knees and feet, and discovered I have none in my ankles. I was a little alarmed by this but apparently it isn't that unusual in older persons.

He then showed me exercises that can help the alignment of my legs. He feels this is the major problem and that when it is relieved to some extent the accompanying pain and pressure should also be relieved. "Alignment, alignment, alignment!", he said, repeating some mantra of a top kinesiologist in San Diego who tends to sports stars (I am wanting to know more now, wondering if this guy has a book or two out).

He said to show these to Clara and that she may have some machines that can do some of the same things as the exercises, and that she can call him if she has questions. Because I am working at a gym I will be doing most of my work there and can check in to find out my progress from time to time. I asked how long I should wait to make the next appointment, and he said "two months". It will take at least six weeks before any measurable change happens, he said.

This is exactly the kind of assistance I was looking for.  I was also very interested in getting all of these measurements down. It is very difficult for me to determine if I am making any progress, and this will change that.

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