The following weeks after a spinal cord injury are the most important for becoming healthy again. Physical therapy is the sensible route to take, because the trained specialists know how to push you to your best ability. Spinal cord injury like mine has a mandatory therapy program. Not all injuries can be corrected, but don’t give up on therapy because it can help in many ways. The loss of my leg function was caused by my injury so getting back to full health would take an extensive amount of time. Even with the possibility of never using my legs again, my mind was set on helping the rest of my body get in shape.
After a month-long coma my muscles deteriorated, my lungs were weak, I had low blood pressure and the possibility of blood clots. These are symptoms that can’t go untreated. My arms lost most muscle tone so I wasn’t able to push myself long distance. The only reason I am alive is because a ventilator pushed and pulled air in and out of my lungs. Doctors stressed over low blood pressure and blood clots from bad circulation. Physical therapy helped all these problems fade. I realized I could adapt to a new healthy and still be happy. Never giving up was something my parents taught me from a young age. If I started something I had to finish it.
Everyday consisted of two one hour sessions of physical therapy. My physical therapist and I would work out various muscle groups that would help daily function ability. Strength training was one of my favorite parts of physical therapy, because I had a background of lifting weights for high school football. The adaptive weight system was easy to use, because every station was roll on. Most gyms have benches connected to the stations. Don’t be discouraged if you don’t see immediate results. With time, hard work and commitment will prove therapy is worth your time. I regained a large amount of confidence after seeing results. I may not have the use of my legs but physical therapy has helped me achieve my new 100%.
Shriners Children’s Hospital of Northern California’s physical therapy department has a strong and knowledgeable staff who make every patient feel comfortable. The environment was ideal for younger patients. The staff motivated me during my long stay to work harder than I had ever worked before. Children’s hospitals have modified exercise programs into types of games to lengthen young attention spans. This technique was very effective, because kids love to have fun. I was inspired while watching younger kids dealing with much worse disabilities not giving up. If I could give a new spinal cord injury advise on physical therapy I would say, “Stretch a couple times a day because legs tighten fast. Your core is going to be one of the most important parts of your body so take core exercises very serious. Last HAVE FUN and SMILE because you are still alive.”
*Image courtesy Flickr creative commons.