Physical therapy

Life After Catastrophic Injury

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Life After Catastrophic Injury requires a multi-pronged approach to healing.

In the course of my Pilates career I have worked with many clients who were recovering from catastrophic injury and illness.

  • One woman was paralyzed below the waist after a toboggan accident (she crashed into a trail marker head first) and wanted to dance at her wedding (it happened!).
  • Another was hit by a car while she walking on the sidewalk, leading to a serious brain injury along with physical issues.
  • A third client fell and crushed a vertebrae in the lower thoracic/lumbar spine region, leading to many surgeries and years of pain and dysfunction.

What they all have in common is a catastrophic injury. What they don't share is the multi-pronged approach to healing.

Catastrophic events where we are not injured affect us after. We can have psychological, behavioral, and social issues that arise. Anxiety, shortness of breath, inability to sleep, tension, anger, and depression can all arise after trauma.

We can feel helpless, hopeless, and completely stressed out.

Add to that a bad physical injury that causes chronic and acute pain, especially debilitating pain or nerve damage and/or paralysis, and there are multiple levels of injury that need healing.

What to do?

  • First, make sure you have great primary physicians and surgeons.
  • Second, make sure you have great physical therapists and other physical support people - massage therapists, personal trainers, etc.
  • Third, find a trauma psychotherapist or psychiatrist whom you like and are comfortable with. This is the key person that many trauma patients are missing!
  • Finally, keep a close social network of friends and family to keep you happy, bring you presents, slap you when you need it, and remind you that there is still a world outside of your injury.

You must trust all of your practitioners, because there will be times that therapy will make things feel worse as they are getting better. The extra pain can be extra disturbing if you don't trust the people who are helping you.

You may have your physical stuff in order, but without the social and psychological counseling you will not have all the support you need to enter life fully again.

Remember, address healing on all levels or you will never fully heal.

Practicing Pilates

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Practicing Pilates is like practicing anything. The more you do it, the better it gets!

The word practice is an interesting one. Somehow in our culture we tend to think of practicing as something that comes before, to get you ready for the real thing.

You practice until you get it right.

But we use the word for some pretty important things.

Doctors practice medicine, dentists practice dentistry, and engineers practice engineering. Do they ever get it right? Does the practice ever end?

I would say no, practice should never end. There is always more to feel, find, understand, and practice.

Practicing Pilates is similar. Some days Pilates is easy and some days not so much.

Some days I can find a nuance of an exercise that changes everything, and then I am off practicing again.

Some days the workout flows and I feel like practicing Pilates has paid off, and other days not so much.

How about you? Do you have any things that you practice? And are you happy practicing, or do you feel the need to get it right?