Blog Post: March 15th, 2021
By Micah Hayek, Doctor of Physical Therapy
From hearing funny stories about my patient’s getting stuck in the snow with their dog to seeing a patient finally be able to reach far enough to tuck in their shirt behind their back, every week I have some experience that gives me fresh gratitude for the calling I have followed.
A foundational experience that led me to pursue being a physical therapist occurred when I was yet in high school. I observed at a physical therapy clinic my aunt worked at, and I had the privilege of witnessing a patient’s story of injury and recovery.
While competing in recreational soccer, a happy and healthy woman, wife, and mother of three children broke both of her knee caps when a competitor tackled the ball away from her. Clearly a red card was warranted for the aggressor. The woman, unfortunately, earned a trip to the hospital, surgery, and a long road to recovery. The day I observed in the clinic she rolled into the clinic in a wheelchair with her young son of maybe 11 years assisting to push the wheelchair.
The therapist revealed to them that it was the day that she would try standing. I watched as the therapist prepped the patient for the challenge of standing for the first time in over 2 months, creating an effective physical setting and encouraging the patient in a can-do attitude to overcome her nervousness. After a successful transition to standing I saw the wave of emotions roll over the patient and her son, and I understood more deeply the role of a physical therapist.
We do not merely prescribe exercises, stretch limbs, and do paperwork, but more so we guide patients back into the roles and fulfilling identities that they had before injury. That patient knew she was regaining the ability to participate fully as a member of the family, to contribute to the care of her son and family, to stand at the sink and make the family’s favorite dish and to enjoy the children’s recreational events. For the son, to see his mother thrive and provide the way he enjoyed in the past.
Our personal roles in life are more fragile than we realize, until they are shattered. Seeing the pieces of life being put back together again within my patients is a frequent reminder of the value of what a physical therapist does. I am grateful to have the privilege of participating in patient’s stories.
And a final word of advice to finish: Don’t shovel a dog and yourself out of that snow bank when you are only a few weeks out from shoulder surgery. As always, if you need assistance or have an ache, pain, or injury, please come see us. You can visit our locations page here or request an appointment here.