Vital Care PT - January 2020

MONTHLY

JANUARY 2020

WWW.VITALCAREREHAB.COM

(623) 544-0300

How Facing My Fears

MADE ME A BETTER PHYSICAL THERAPIST

Vital Care Patients ENTER TO WIN Find the misspelled word in this newsletter and call (623) 544-0300 for your chance to win a $10 GIFT CARD! CALL (623) 544-0300 Contest is for past and present Vital Care PT patients only. permanent inner ear disorders that result in balance deficiencies, difficulty standing or walking, headaches, blurred vision, neck tightness or pain, and severe nausea. When these symptoms are constant, they can steal your ability to participate in everyday life, and if left untreated, they can get worse. If they’re A new year means it’s time to reflect on the achievements of the previous year and focus on new goals in the upcoming months. Change can be thrilling, but it can also be terrifying. I’ve faced many challenges in my life, but nothing has been a bigger obstacle, or subsequently taught me more about myself, than facing my fear of practicing vestibular rehabilitation. An estimated 42% of Americans experience dizziness at least once in their lifetime. For many of these people, it becomes a much more serious issue than experiencing vertigo for a few seconds. It can progress into

treated incorrectly, even more problematic side effects can arise. It’s a sensitive but dire arm of physical therapy. Early in my education, while I was working on my bachelor’s degree and then my clinical doctorate in physical therapy school, I was so passionate about human anatomy and so hungry to learn all about it. There was such an emphasis on learning the musculoskeletal and nervous system, but when it came to the ears, there was not much time or focus spent on it. So naturally, I had a lack of enthusiasm about ears, which led to a lack of understanding of the inner ear system, also called the vestibular system. outpatient setting. At that time, vertigo and vestibular issues were only treated in the hospital. Therefore, I did not see this type of patient for years, causing me to forget what little I did learn about vestibular therapy in physical therapy school. When I acquired my own practice in Sun City West, I had several opportunities to practice vestibular therapy. However, without proper education and practice with it, I was forced to turn potential patients away. I was so fearful of the expertise I lacked to treat them that I was unwilling to take the chance. I did try to educate myself by taking an additional class or two, but I never got over my fear completely. One day, our front desk received seven separate phone calls from patients seeking treatment for vertigo and vestibular issues. I had no choice but to turn all of them away. I referred them to the local hospital but learned the hospital had no availability for months. The When I graduated from physical therapy school in 2002, I started working in the orthopedic

prospect of these patients living with debilitating side effects for months was heartbreaking. I decided that day it was time to face my fear so I could help all of these people. I took an extensive week-long course rather than just a single-day class and immersed myself in it completely. With new knowledge, I found aspects of it fascinating and found things to get excited about. But the real excitement came from knowing how many more people I could now help heal. I scheduled my very first vestibular patient for the day after my extensive certification was complete. I didn’t give myself a window to lose confidence or run away from the situation. That was four years ago. Today, over 75% of the patients I treat have vestibular issues. Facing my fears allowed me to start helping hundreds of patients whose quality of life is severely affected by these problems. Receiving an enveloping bear hug from a patient who was previously unable to even stand straight without becoming nauseous is the only reminder I’ll ever need to know that facing your fears and embracing new things can lead to extraordinary outcomes. –Andrea McWhorter

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