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  • Dori Nissenson

Got Drive?

Currently, I am treating 4 women who are all between the ages of 85 and 89. Remarkably, they have all reached out to me. No doctor, or relative or friend urged them to contact me. They did it on their own. Despite their age, these women are motivated and dedicated to feeling better and getting more out of their lives.

These women have experienced divorce, loneliness, financial hardship, the loss of a child, the loss of a spouse, life threatening illness and severe physical compromise. However, not one of them has lost the drive to feel good and take care of themselves.

Individually, they have a lifetime of happy and not so happy times. They all tell many stories that capture my attention and leave me with a life message that can ONLY be delivered by someone who has as much perspective on living as they do.

Collectively, my first thought is that I am a lucky woman to meet and treat all

of them. My second thought is that I am so totally inspired by their unending energy and desire to heal that I feel compelled to share their stories with you.

To all my friends, relatives, clients… it is never too late to feel better.

To all my friends, relatives, clients… it is never too late to feel better.

Mrs. L.

Mrs. L. is 85 years old.

She was diagnosed with Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease 5 years ago and since then her ability to move around both in and out of the home has become limited. Mrs. L. contacted me to help her become more independent both at home and in the community.

Initially, Mrs. L.’s pulmonary diagnosis made it very difficult for her to get into the positions that would allow me to use manual techniques to give her some pain relief. Her frequent episodes of shortness of breath made it hard to move through exercises or cardiovascular work without stopping frequently to help her get her breathing under control.

BUT… Mrs. L. has stuck with physical therapy. Her program consists of breathing exercises, manual techniques for pain relief, strengthening exercises and walking training.Mrs. L. can now get into bed independently and move to a comfortable position without pain. Mrs. L. is now able to tolerate more continous walking and more intense strengthening exercises.

When I asked Mrs. L. how she feels about her progress she answered: "I am proud of myself that I am finally taking charge of my health and it's making a difference in how I feel every day."

Mrs. K.

Mrs. K. is 86 years old.

When Mrs. K. was 12, she was diagnosed with a severe scoliosis. After bracing failed, at the young age of 13, Mrs. K. had to undergo surgery to place rods in her spine to prevent her scoliosis from progressing. While the surgery helped to abate the curvature from becoming worse in her adolescence and early adulthood, as Mrs. K. aged, the scoliosis did worsen. She now she has a severe curvature and hump in her right rib cage that prevents her from standing up straight. This poor alignment greatly affects her balance and safety with walking.

Mrs. K. contacted me in October of 2017 for treatment of her back pain. I started her on a program of manual techniques for pain relief, strengthening exercises and balance training.

What is remarkable about Mrs. K. is that she has NEVER exercised in her life. She is, however, 100% compliant with keeping her sessions and doing all that I ask of her.

I recently asked Mrs. K. what makes her so dedicated to working hard in physical therapy. She replied: “This is the best time in my life. I am alive and so is my husband and I am so happy for that alone… and of course my new dog. Why wouldn’t I want to make it even better by doing PT to make my body feel as good as it possibly can?”

Mrs. T.

Mrs. T. is 88 years old.

Mrs. T. underwent spinal surgery in February of 2017 and a left total hip replacement in December of 2017. Mrs. T. did not have physical therapy after her spine surgery. Prior to her hip surgery, her hip pain was so significant that she was only able to walk short distances which significantly limited her ability to do things independently in and out of the home. Because she stood and walked so much less, her painful hip also became very weak. This combined with the weakness from the spine surgery greatly affected her functional independence. After her hip surgery, Mrs. T. contacted me to help with her post-operative rehab. At the initial assessment, Mrs. T. told me that it had been two years since she was able to ambulate without an assistive device and without pain… and it was 3 years since she had exercised in any capacity. Mrs. T. told me when she was a kid, it was the beginning of World War II and there was a gas shortage. As a result, she and her family walked everywhere no matter what the distance. Despite her age, she wants to walk long distances like she used to. Due to the fact that she had not been active for so long, we started very slowly but I consistently increased the intensity of the sessions. Now Mrs. T. is no longer using a walker or cane in the house and can do most everything for herself.

Mrs. T.'s goal is to travel to Europe in the summer of this year, WITHOUT a wheelchair… I told her we can make that happen.

Miss B.

Miss B. is 89 years old.

Miss B. has a medical history so lengthy that it could make your head spin. When I asked her what her goal for physical therapy was, she said that she wants to improve her balance to get back on the golf course!! Miss B. was diagnosed with peripheral neuropathy in her legs that make balance in standing challenging and she has a history of falls and resultant vertebral fractures that required surgery. She also complains of low back pain and a general feeling of weakness throughout her whole body. I started Miss B. on a program of manual work to her spine for pain relief and intensive balance training. We then added treadmill training and general conditioning exercises.

During the first treatment session, we went outside and I put Miss B.'s golf club in her hands and told her to swing. She was elated. She gave me a deadline of April to have her back in action at The Longshore Golf Course.

Just recently, Miss B. has been able to swing her golf club safely and effectively, beating her April Deadline!

Each of these women have a different medical history and a different life story but the common thread between them is DRIVE. Kudos to them for acting on it.

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