Washing her hair and putting on her own coat are everyday tasks Sue used to take for granted. Now she counts them as milestones in her recovery at Ohio State's Wexner Medical Center from a herniation of her spine and a tear in her rotator cuff. 

Sue is regaining these everyday skills as a result of the outpatient Orthopedic Rehabilitation Program at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center. She began rehabilitation after having surgery on her shoulder in December 2010.

“Rehabilitation is a slow and arduous process and doesn’t provide overnight success,” Sue relates. “Regardless, I know it works.”

Sue is getting back to enjoying her active life at work and as busy wife, mother of four adult daughters and grandmother of three. 

Sue talks about her outpatient physical therapy

Sue talks about her outpatient physical therapy

My initial diagnosis was a herniation of my L2-3 spine. In attempting to perform the rehab exercises for my back, my physical therapist discovered that my right shoulder muscles were not working correctly. I was found to have a 95 percent anterior tear in my rotator cuff.

I began in PT in August of 2010, had surgery on my shoulder in Dec 2010 and am presently undergoing at least 12 weeks of rehab for my shoulder and then moving on to strengthening my back.

My goal is to optimize my body to be able to actively play with my grandchildren and enjoy life. From past experience with a previous hand surgery (my hand has 90–95 percent “normal” function), I am hoping that I can return to at least that percentage with my back and shoulder.

Physical therapies I am having include Ultrasound, Myofascial Release Techniques, Joint Mobilization, Passive Stretching, Active Assistive Range of Motion Exercise, Strengthening, Neuromuscular Rehabilitation, Cryotherapy, Trigger point soft tissue techniques, Spinal Mobilization and Stabilization Exercises.

Post-surgery, my progress has been week by week. New small activities that I can accomplish without pain, such as washing my hair, driving and holding on to the steering wheel, and putting on my own coat allow me to see my progress. My ability to rely less on others for each activity becomes an important milestone to my feeling of success.

Frustrating moments during the process occurred after I went back to work three weeks after my surgery and then endured a very rough time over the following three to four weeks. I wasn’t sleeping because of back and shoulder pain, was trying to work and was just plain exhausted. I don’t think I realized how much reaching for a book, opening heavy doors or working at a computer requires the use of your shoulder.

I am still working on achieving my rehab goals, but would certainly say things are looking up. I am sleeping much better so I feel rested, I no longer have to wear my splint and I am beginning more active exercises to regain mobility. I know I will achieve my goals — just not as quickly as I would like to.

The biggest factors in my success are a fantastic physical therapist (Mike Williams), determination (but wish I had more patience) and desire to be active and my family.

The support of my wonderful family makes any challenge easier. They have all been great — especially my husband. They have wrapped presents for Christmas, cooked food and driven me around without complaint for six weeks. Their support is without a doubt the “sunshine” to keep me going when I feel down.

I think of my therapist as part of my extended family. Mike is certainly pleased with my progress, encourages me when I run out of patience and holds me accountable when I get lazy. He gives me alternatives when an exercise cannot be accomplished during my work day. A great example recently is using things in my office such as the door or my desk to help with my stretching exercises. I spend eight–10 hours a day at work and need to be able to fulfill my exercise expectations while still working. The patient/therapist relationship is all about “making it work” with whatever alternatives will lead to success.

Advice for patients beginning the process is to understand the part you play in your own rehabilitation. A wonderful therapist can help to guide and support you, however, you have to do the work. It requires following the directions for exercises faithfully and being honest when communicating your success and/or failure in exercises. This allows your therapist to continue to alter the plan to what will allow you to be successful. You have to be a full-time member of the therapy team.

I would absolutely recommend Outpatient Rehabilitation. Ohio State Wexner Medical Center’s PT rocks! My therapist really incorporates my unique situation into the therapy plan to allow me to be successful. When OSU Wexner Medical Center talks about personalized health care, this is an excellent example of what it means. Mike has to constantly figure out a balance of multiple conditions to allow me to do rehabilitation but try to limit the negative responses of another body part. My muscles and spine are a challenge he has to take into consideration when directing the exercises. I personally consider him a creative genius and the “MacGyver” of PT.

In my free time I love being with my family and all kinds of exercising. During the “outdoor” months, I enjoy walking five to six miles, four times a week. My favorite hobbies are family activities, decorating my home, shopping for sales and reading. 

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