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More Than Just Physiotherapy and Occupational Therapy

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Ami2301
Ami2301 Community member Posts: 7,935 Disability Gamechanger

My name is Ami, I am a disability blogger from Norfolk. I am one of Scope's Online Community Champions and leader of Ataxia UK Norfolk Facebook Support Group. I’m also passionate about raising awareness and I love superheroes.

Before March 2018, I’d only ever received a few weeks of physiotherapy, due to severe back pain, and I had only heard of occupational therapy once - I thought it was career related. I didn’t realise just how much of an impact these therapies could have on a person’s life. It’s making me emotional writing this because of how physiotherapy and occupational therapy have changed my life. For one, I would not be able to type this today if I had not received therapy.

Ami kneeling on the floor doing physio

The day my life changed

In March 2018, I was admitted to Critical Care due to being very ill and unconscious. When I woke up a couple of days later, I realised I was in a hospital bed and I felt paralysed. I couldn’t lift my arms, my legs or move my head. I couldn’t even breathe by myself. I had contracted bilateral pneumonia, and as my body was already very weak, the odds were against me.

Once I became more aware of my surroundings, days after waking up from an induced coma, I realised I could no longer do anything by myself. Due to my hearing impairment, I tried to communicate by writing on a whiteboard, but I could no longer write. I couldn’t sit up, stand up or walk. I felt like I’d lost everything.

Starting my therapy journey

After spending a month in Intensive Care, I stayed in hospital for a further 8 weeks on a stroke unit. This was not because I’d had a stroke, but because I needed the same type of rehabilitation as a stroke patient. During these 8 weeks, I had numerous sessions of physiotherapy. I remember my first session and I still couldn’t sit up by myself, I needed 2 assistants in front of me, 1 on each side of me, and 1 behind me.

Due to having no control of my balance, I slipped off a plinth and fell on to my knees which was excruciating and I screamed in pain. This completely knocked my confidence and I really didn’t want to continue with physio. But I didn’t want to be stuck in hospital either.

I was transferred to a specialist neurological rehabilitation centre to potentially regain my mobility and independence. Having already been transferred to different wards and different hospitals, I was reluctant to go to this new place. I just wanted to go home.

More than just rehabilitation

I stayed at the rehabilitation centre for 6 months, and those were the best 6 months of my life. Not only did I regain some mobility and independence, but they helped me to discover who I am and most of all, they helped me to accept my disabilities.

Admittedly, I took my independence and mobility for granted before I became disabled. The saying is true, you don’t realise what you have until it’s gone. My therapists taught me that I can be independent as a disabled person. I could still live my life as me, it just included a few mobility aids.

Ami stood dancing with her husband on their wedding day

They have changed my life in more ways than I could have ever imagined. I was able to walk down the aisle, with the support of 2 people, and marry my best friend. I was able to place the wedding ring on his finger and sign the register.

My recovery is ongoing, and with physiotherapy and occupational therapy, the impossible becomes possible.

If you’d like to follow Ami’s journey, she writes a blog called Undercover Superhero.

What’s your experience of physiotherapy or occupational therapy? Have you gained invaluable skills from rehabilitation? Let us know in the comments below!

Disability Gamechanger - 2019

Comments

  • hdeakin
    hdeakin Scope Member Posts: 126 Pioneering
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    A great blog post @Ami2301. You have come so far. I am so proud of you. I agree you definitely take these things for granted when you have them and don't appreciate what you have until it is gone. Physiotherapy and OT has definitely changed my life too they have helped me gain mobility and some independence. I have had some good and bad experiences in rehab. The spiral fracture of my femur in physio was a bad one but my more recent one in the Wolfson unit was positive. X x
  • Ami2301
    Ami2301 Community member Posts: 7,935 Disability Gamechanger
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    Thank you @hdeakin and I'm super proud of how far you've come too! It was a true honour to walk with you across the finish line last year ?
    Disability Gamechanger - 2019
  • laura222
    laura222 Community member Posts: 84 Pioneering
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    Great post Ami! Just popped over to your blog and "whoop for a fellow *rare mutant*" I get excited when I find other Mitochondrial Disease-ers. Perhaps not the usual reaction, but "whoop!" nonetheless.
  • Ami2301
    Ami2301 Community member Posts: 7,935 Disability Gamechanger
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    That would be my reaction too! ?
    Disability Gamechanger - 2019
  • JoelVsArthritis
    JoelVsArthritis Community member Posts: 21 Courageous
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    Great post as always Ami. Great insight. 
    Arthritis blogger, writer and advocate.
    Sharing my story of Juvenile Arthritis, parenting and mental health with chronic illness.
    Writes for leading charities/orgs.
    Articles?
    https://joelvsarthritis.co.uk
  • Ails
    Ails Community member Posts: 2,256 Disability Gamechanger
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    A fantastic post, Ami.  Speaking straight from the heart, as always!  You are such a spirited and determined lady and this will inspire many people who maybe at the start of their rehab journey.  

    Although I haven't any experience of rehab myself, I have always valued the support and help from physiotherapists and O.T's. who have helped me a lot through life.  Thanks for sharing this with us.  x  :smiley:
    Winner of the Scope New Volunteer Award 2019.   :)
  • Ami2301
    Ami2301 Community member Posts: 7,935 Disability Gamechanger
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    Thank you @JoelVsArthritis and @Ails :)
    Disability Gamechanger - 2019
  • April2018mom
    April2018mom Posts: 2,882 Disability Gamechanger
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    Our experiences of pediatric physical and occupational therapy was very good. When my son was a tiny baby, I took him to weekly PT sessions after we were discharged from the hospital. That was in addition to our daily home based physical therapy sessions as well. Why did I love them? His therapists were true skilled professionals. No lie. And the ones we had privately surpassed my modest expectations additionally. They blew me away constantly. 

    They not only helped me stay sane, they answered all my questions and were my sounding board on my bad days too. I was able to share moments that made me laugh with them. As a new mom, I really needed that badly. And if I needed to, I could send them a email with some additional questions. I still keep in contact with his first ever physical and occupational therapist.

    The occupational therapist helped us obtain adaptive equipment for him to use at home. His physical therapist offered suggestions on useful exercises to do and assisted us in goal setting. I fully concur with you. They helped our son in several ways I never imagined possible ever. Seriously! I chalk his progress with his fine and gross motor skills (to a lesser degree) up to their patience, dedication, and skill. Also prayers. That helped me. The first time he got to use his wheelchair I beamed as I took photos. I used to sit in on his sessions. 

    I still see both of them occasionally in town. Now he participates in sessions downtown at a local therapy clinic at our local hospital. I am currently looking at all the options for some more private therapy right now as I think that he still needs it. We will see what happens. I recently hired another new private occupational and physical therapist to work with my other disabled child with the same disability. 
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