Originally written October 2018; picture from https://clipground.com/

Remember All the exercises?!

Well, that’s just not true anymore. And then I’ll get even more in December!

I’m still going to the same place because, well, they’re real people who dedicate time to their patients, meaning 1:1 care with a Physical Therapist (PT) or Physical Therapy Assistant (PTA) for an hour.

Most local places, on the other hand, are what I call assembly-line physical therapy. A PTS (Physical Therapy Spectator; or was it Specialist …) watches 3-7 patients do their exercises, then each patient gets 5-10 minutes with a Therapist to assess which modality to use, and then a PTA (or even a PTS!) provides the treatment.

I’m guessing we need to get on the same page with a few key points here.

A real, full-on Physical Therapist holds a doctorate. They’ve spent close to a decade studying how the human body is supposed to work, how things go wrong, what the symptoms and/or impacts are, and various ways to help patients heal. They know that a patient could come in with sore hands, and what to check to suss out whether it’s the hands, elbows, shoulders, neck, and so on. They also know that two patients with similar symptoms and causes may react quite differently to various treatments, and figure out what works for each individual one.

A PTA has at least a bachelor’s degree, sometimes a master’s. They know a lot about the body, what the treatments are, how to provide them, and so on. In other words, they’re almost a Therapist.

A PTS, on the other hand, is often a minimum wage or slightly higher person off the street who can (maybe) spell the word therapy, is willing to wear scrubs, and might be interested in getting some kind of PT degree someday. Some places seem to call this person a tech instead of spectator.

The difference between these business philosophies is astounding, at least for me.

I spent three months at an assembly-line place in 2017, and was able to cut down on some meds, but didn’t actually get better. Basically I’d feel good after leaving, and maybe a day later, but then return to the bad ouchies.

Then I switched to the new practice. The very first day, I found out that no one at the prior office bothered to check whether I’d been doing the exercises correctly. And I wasn’t. Far from it, actually. I’d been dong them in a way that actually made some things worse! Instead of learning to use good body mechanics, I’d gotten better at compensating for the ouchy bits. Meaning my body was being thrown off even more instead of healing.

So when it came time to graduate from each body part, I stayed at the new place, resulting in that very long All the Exercises post.

And now I’m seeing them for my hands. Which brings us to the more exercises. Now I have play-doh! I get to:

  • squish it through my fingers while making a fist
  • stab it with my thumbs
  • roll it into a snake and pinch the heck out of it
  • flatten it into pancake and pry it apart
  • make it into a bagel to pry open from the inner circle

Turns out there’s this stuff called therapy putty. We keep trying to graduate to that, but of course I’m doing more with my hands at home and they’re already tired by the time I get to PT. I can use the putty for the fists and stabbing, but can’t yet turn it into a snake or a pancake.

So what’s this about new exercises in December?

I’m finally going in for the first spinal surgery on November 20th! You’ll get to read a lot more about that soon!

Yep, nothin’ but fun goin’ on over here 🤪