Advanced Practice Physical Therapy - February 2020

FEBRUARY 2020 | 406-770-3171


If physical therapists across the country shared a mantra, it might be something like this: “We all fall down in life, but it’s important to get back up.” Every day, I work to help people who have been on the receiving end of life’s blows — things like injuries, illnesses, or surgeries — get back on their feet and tackle the next challenge. But despite my decades-long passion for PT, I didn’t fully understand what that journey was like until a few years ago when a nasty skiing injury forced me into recovery myself. It was New Year’s Eve 2017, and I was celebrating the end of the year hitting the slopes at Showdown with my husband, my sons, and my best friend, who had flown in from California with her husband for the occasion. Everything was going well until suddenly, it wasn’t. Falling and hurting themselves under the chairlift is every skier’s nightmare, and that’s exactly what happened to me while I was making a sharp turn. In the blink of an eye, I tore my ACL and MCL and even bruised a bone! It was painful and scary, and I ended up needing a toboggan ride down the mountain. The difficult part of the injury didn’t start until I got home, though. I had surgery five weeks after my fall, and until then, I couldn’t bend my knee more than 30 degrees, so I had to hobble on a stiff leg. After the surgery, my surgeon, Dr. Pike, made me wear a long leg brace for another six weeks. That brace affected everything! My daily routine was turned upside down, and it stayed that way for a long time even after the brace came off. I pushed myself hard in my recovery. Even when I was brushing my teeth, I was standing on one leg or doing heel raises! I was always rehabbing, and in a lot of ways, I still am. Luckily, I knew all the right steps to take. After taking two weeks off work and starting down the long road to recovery, I gained a new appreciation for the struggle my patients go through. I was literally in their shoes, and it helped me recognize areas where I could do more as a PT. The experience definitely made me a

better therapist, so even considering all of the pain and inconvenience, I don’t think I’d undo my injury if I could.

After I was injured, one of the first things people started asking me was “Will you ever ski again?” Considering the therapist’s mantra I mentioned, you probably won’t be surprised to learn my answer was always a stubborn “Heck yes!” A year after my injury, I was back on the slopes, starting to build my confidence again. The long and the short of this story is that we all fall down in life — even us PTs. I mean that literally! According to the World Health Organization, people around the world fall badly enough to need medical attention 37.3 million times every year. The best thing we can do is reduce our risk. To help you do that, my staff and I are holding a workshop this month all about balance and fall prevention. It will cover everything from balance tips to the impact of walking speeds and medications on your likelihood of falling. To sign up and save yourself from the kind of injury I had, call our office at 406-770-3171 today. And if you do fall, remember, you can always get back up! –Dawn Clutter

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