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Physical Therapy

by on June 10, 2013

I’m excited to post an update to my ongoing recovery.

I finally got to see the Physical Therapist for rehabilitating my ankle following surgery. It took over a month to get seen, and I’ve been doing some things on my own. But I knew that there would be exercises and stretches I had not thought of which they would be able to teach me.

Our goal in the therapy is to rebuild the muscle strength that supports the joint so that I can return to normal activities. We also want to get the most out of the limited range-of-motion in my ankle, so we get to work on balance and all that.

Proprioception is a neat term I didn’t learn until going through the AFAA group fitness certification, and even then it didn’t matter to me until the last time I had surgery on my ankle. Proprioception is (from Merriam-Webster):

Perception of stimuli relating to position, posture, equilibrium, or internal condition. Receptors (nerve endings) in skeletal muscles and on tendons provide constant information on limb position and muscle action for coordination of limb movements. Awareness of equilibrium changes usually involves perception of gravity. In humans, gravity, position, and orientation are registered by tiny grains called otoliths moving within two fluid-filled sacs in the inner ear in response to any change in position or orientation. Their motion is detected by sense hairs. Rotation is detected by the inertial lag of fluid in the semicircular canals acting on the sense hairs. The central nervous system integrates signals from the canals to perceive rotation in three dimensions.

Of course the ankle plays a part in all of that working together to provide balance and stability, so I’ll get to do fun exercises to build that back up. We stand on the affected foot with the other leg in the air, and toss a medicine ball at an angled trampoline so that it bounces back to us… and we try to catch it without losing balance. Or we stand on the affected foot with the other foot tugging on a flexible TheraBand tied to a table or chair, and we have to work to maintain balance throughout the motion. They had a board with half a ball under the spot where you place your foot, and I got to move the ankle back and forth, side to side, clockwise and counterclockwise, all while trying to avoid knocking the board against the floor.

Physical Therapy is usually considered painful torture. But they took it easy with me, trying to see how much I could handle. Since I’d been waiting for some time, my foot has healed a lot on its own. They had me do leg presses with both feet. I did half of them with just the recovering foot, to see if I could. They had me stepping up onto a small box. It was a joke, considering the flight of stairs I climb every day at work.

But then they got me.

Put that block behind my foot and make me walk up backwards, and my foot is going to feel it. Turns out we don’t normally walk backwards up the stairs, so I haven’t been doing anything for that part of the joint.

All in all, it was a good day with a great technician helping out. I’m excited to be that much closer to “back to normal.”

And I’m sure they’re going to live up to the “painful torture” moniker soon enough.

Any physical therapy stories you’d like to share? Let me know in a comment.

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From → Take a Breather

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