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Rethinking Physical Therapy

Many of my days during the summer were fantastic and productive. However, before the day would unfold, every morning started with a buzzing pain surging through my right leg. I laid in bed not being able to move it for a couple of minutes. When I moved my foot, I would see, feel, and hear it deviate from its usual smoothness. It jolted back and forth, clicked, and did not feel good. Every morning, the worst feeling was when I got out of bed and put my weight on my feet. My right foot could not handle it, but I waited it out for a couple of weeks before making the appointment with the Health Center. They referred me to someone in town, but for some reason, I never made the call. 

After one morning when I couldn’t stand and desperately had to walk to the bathroom, I decided it was time to call the physical therapist. As I walked into town for my first appointment, I was quite nervous. I didn’t know what was wrong with me. I didn’t know if I’d find the office on time. I didn’t know what the therapist was like. I didn’t know if physical therapy would work. However, I think back and wish that I hadn’t been nervous because every appointment gives me another reason to not be afraid of physical therapy, and this afternoon marked my 11th appointment.

The physical therapist’s professionalism and knowledge provided me reassurance. As they palpated my muscles and identified trouble spots, I felt mostly at ease with the knowledge that they were trained to care with scrutiny. During this hour of physical therapy, I felt very in tune with my body. Carefully guided palpations and questions eventually brought us to the core problem. For a while, I believed that my physical therapist understood my body better than I did myself. They applied the right amount of pressure at the exact angle that caused me usual pain. At times, I had to bring back into thought a reminder that my body and I were one. They not only answered all of my questions, but they also validated them. As they educated me, I realized that some self-identified problems were actually done out of paranoia. Simultaneously, some things I thought were okay turned out to be slightly off. Other things, which I thought were normal, turned out to be slightly off in my body. My shoulder blades are lower than other peoples’, my left femur is just a bit twisted, and my feet pronate to compensate for that. They would talk to me about anatomy and procedure-related topics as they applied cold gel onto me to prep for passsive warm-up, did an ultrasound on my legs (who knew they did that?), and ran their fingers firmly down my muscles for muscle mobilization. I’d leave the office, having Kinesio tape artistically decorating my right leg and a list of exercises/stretches to do at home. Before this process began, I was so terrified about what was going to happen with my body. But, with solid communication with the therapist, I knew I was in good hands.

 

Bonnie is a sophomore at Amherst College. Even though she studies statistics, she is interested in technology, pediatric medicine, dentistry, education, and public health.  She spends most of her day trying out new things, like eating an ice cream cone while biking or looking for ways to climb onto campus building roofs. "All over the place" would be the best way to describe her. 
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