Every moment of Juanita’s day is filled with activity – from fitness classes in her senior apartment center, to projects and get togethers with her family and friends. She initially came to me because of her back. She lifted a sewing machine, causing a pain in the middle of back, between the upper and lower portions, which persisted for months.
It was preventing her from lifting and moving items around, participating in activities that required her to sit still and driving.
During her initial evaluation, she also reported that she had badly sprained her ankle several years ago, and felt unsteady on her feet as a result. This was compounded by dizziness with movements. Because of these two problems, not only were her exercises limited in fitness class, we were limited in what we could do during her back examination. She became dizzy multiple times with positional changes. Although she had mentioned it to her physician, neither of them had seemed to take it very seriously. Juanita told us that although she had not fallen recently, she was now afraid that she might.
Because she was referred for her back pain, and this was the most pressing problem in her mind, we tackled it first, while communicating her other problems to her physician in order to receive authorization to work on her difficulties with balance and dizziness. We found during her first few sessions that her hip girdle strength was compromised, and after classifying her back pain syndrome and giving her specific instructions for home exercise, we began to address her core (trunk) and hip girdle strength. Working on the flexibility of the muscles in her legs and around her hips also took pressure off her back, allowing her to move more easily.
After a few visits working on spinal stabilization training, we were able to return to full bending, lifting, and sitting without pain. Now it was time to tackle her balance.
When her balance was evaluated with standardized testing, we found that she was at a relatively high risk for falls. Although she didn’t have signs of inner ear problems, she did have sensitivity to movement that had actually improved as we challenged her in a gradual way with her back and leg exercises. Her problem with retropulsion (pushing backward while getting up) had started to correct itself while working on lifting tasks for her back rehabilitation.
Just as with her back, we were able to begin her balance training with simple tasks at home, and move on to higher level activities that challenged her balance so much, that a therapist was required to prevent her from falling while allowing her to challenge her abilities to the fullest.
Juanita could now not only lift objects around the house, she was able to carry them, walk up and down inclines, across grassy areas and step over obstacles without hesitation or anxiety. She has a program that she continues to perform to work on her back flexibility, strength, and balance, so that she does not have to fear falling or her active lifestyle.
“The therapy was excellent and really helped to improve my body as a whole. Everything was great!”