Days that Physical Therapists Live For

Yesterday was a good day

Sometimes in the world of a healthcare provider, it’s easy to become discouraged. Too much hurt and injustice can become overwhelming. It’s no wonder that nurses are leaving their profession in droves post-pandemic.

But rehab professionals are a bit different. Not that we don’t have our struggles, too, because we absolutely do. But some days are simply magical and restore your faith in the life path you have chosen.

Yesterday was one of those days. 

There are two things I always tell my patients. I tell them that it’s my job to help them get their lives back. The next thing I tell them is that it’s their job to show up and do the work.

All of my patients showed up yesterday. Two in particular had me almost in tears, I was so proud of them.

My first was the grumpiest McGrumperson I’ve had in a while. When your injury robs you of mobility and speech at a young age, you deserve to grieve. You even deserve to get a little pissed off. But I still want you to try. 

This poor guy was starting to give up. I could see it. All he wanted to do was stay in bed and feel sorry for himself. I get it. But, oh, how I wanted him to try. 

Today, I had a breakthrough with him. I convinced him to sit on the edge of the bed and eat. And then somehow managed to convince him to get in the wheelchair and go to the gym with me. 

Walking is so much of a spiritual part of being human, and when you can’t, it’s really humbling. So my primary focus, especially in patients post-stroke, is to work on this. Studies show that intensive gait training is crucial to recovery.

Today I used an old-school trick with an ace wrap to help my patient move his affected leg more effectively. And he could walk in the parallel bars with very little help from me. So we took the show to the rolling walker. 

He walked 75 feet on that first try! He was grinning ear to ear. I had goosebumps! And so we tried twice more. 

When I got him back to his room, he simply couldn’t stop smiling. He even reached out to shake my hand and thank me in his own way. I made sure his nurse knew of his success so she could be excited with him. She said he was still very happy when she checked on him. 

I’m hoping this is his turning point.

My second success story is another patient post-stroke. 

Knee pain in his affected leg was limiting his progress. Pain along the joint line as he described is usually arthritis. My guess is that since he has lost some motor control, his joint has to pick up the slack. But it was getting so bad that his knee would begin to buckle when he was fatigued. 

I tried kinesiotape to provide more support and proprioceptive feedback to his knee. I dropped his pain level from a 7 to a 3 out of 10. Not only did I reduce his pain, but he was also able to climb the stairs for the first time! And, again, I had a patient grinning ear to ear. And again, I had goosebumps. All wins in my book.

If every day could be this amazing, where your patients showed up to fully participate, and all of the interventions you chose actually worked, I would never feel like work was actually work. I’m very grateful for a good day!


Are you a healthcare provider or have been a patient in rehab? I’d love to hear about your experiences.

As always, I hope you all are safe and healthy.

Published by annecreates

I am a physical therapist, wife, mom, runner, artist, and vegan. I'm passionate about helping others find wellness, speaking about the human experience, and in fighting for social justice. Assistant Coach for the Sports Backers Marathon Training Team. Current ambassador for: Boco Gear, SaltStick, SPIbelt, Goodr, Noxgear, and Switch4Good.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: