More Than Just Physiotherapy and Occupational Therapy
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.
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.
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!