When Pain Won’t Quit, Rehab Offers Relief

Patient Carla Williams-Pearson works with her physical therapist.

Patient Carla Williams-Pearson works with her physical therapist.

Carla Williams-Pearson, an echocardiogram technician at Jefferson’s Methodist Campus, is no stranger to healthcare. But when pain hit, she became the patient.

Carla was diagnosed with a herniated disk and multiple rotator cuff tears. Between the two, she was in constant pain. Her healthcare team tried various treatments to help including anti-inflammatories and cortisone shots. But nothing lasted very long.

Then, Dr. Mital Sheth, her cardiologist told her about his positive experience with physical therapy. Carla didn’t know what to expect, but was willing to try anything.

Her physician wrote her a prescription for physical therapy and she decided to use Jefferson’s Methodist Outpatient Rehabilitation site, JeffFIT. They offered convenient hours and Carla could fit in her therapy before heading to work.

At first, Carla experienced anxiety, “After being in pain for so long, I was afraid to move.” But her physical therapist, Michelle Alby motivated and encouraged her to stick with it.

“Almost all clients have anxiety, but due to different reasons,” Michelle said. “The two most common are fear of falling because pain disrupts walking and balance; and the other is fear of making the pain or injury worse. Physical therapy first addresses the physical limitations to make sure the client has the skills to perform the activity they are fearful of. Then we simply address the client’s confidence through communication and demonstration. Each client requires differing strategies, but if they successfully completed the task once without limitations, then repetition will resolve the apprehension.”

“She was so positive,” Carla said. “It was rough in the beginning. Some days I felt like giving up, but Michelle was really great. She explained everything we were doing and how it was going to help me. She also gave me options for different exercises and she never rushed through anything.”

Carla joked, “I would tell her, ‘I didn’t like you today.’ But she did not baby me. That’s what motivated me.”

“The most successful client is the one who knows they need to change some aspect of their life (small or large) in order to achieve the quality they expect,” said Michelle.

Carla attended two months of physical therapy, twice a week. By the third week, her pain was decreasing. Michelle gave her exercises to complete at home, and Carla still uses them.

Carla still feels discomfort from time-to-time; particularly when the weather changes, but knows that she can always go back to JeffFIT rehabilitation to maintain relief.

“I would recommend physical therapy and Methodist’s rehab program,” Carla said.

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