Monday, September 15, 2014

Tales of Therapy~ What Are They Teaching Therapists in School???

As I have said before, I have a brand new OT. She only graduated August of 2013.

We were chatting while she was stretching out my fingers. It felt good to have them stretched out, but of so painful getting there. So I asked her the odds of getting my wrist and fingers to behave again.

She started out with that line we (stroke survivors) hate...every stroke is different. I do have a bit of a contracture of the tendons in my ring and middle ring at the large, middle knuckle. I almost snatched my hand away and strike her severely about the head and shoulder. Nah, I wouldn't hurt a fly unless it was aggravating me.

She started spouting out all the book knowledge she had absorbed about neurological and stroke rehab. I listened intently because I was curious and I wasn't going anywhere for at least another forty-five minutes. It was adult conversation other than talk about the dying process I get at home. Something I sorely lack and am hungry for plus it was about me in a round about way.

In a way it was helping me speech therapy wise without being in speech. We were conversing back and forth. I had to process data which was almost foreign to me having never studied anything but basic range of motion in school. When I didn't understand something, she broke it down to where I could.

In talking about stroke patients she mentioned that she had been taught that there was a two-year window for recovery. That after that period of time no new recovery takes place.
What?! Yeah, I was seeing red too.
I asked her what I was doing in therapy with her then because I'm past the two-year deadline.

She looked at me and realized what she had said. She hemmed hawed around and said, "But since, I've seen some pretty miraculous movement improvement in survivors in over two years post stroke."

"So why did they teach you that in school?" I asked.

"Probably because they needed a guideline, but they are wrong."

"Yeah, they are. Have they never hears of neuroplasticity? Have they never seen a survivor go past the two-year mark? There are tons of reports and studies that dispels that number." I laid my hand down on the towel. The fingers in a relaxed curl rather than a clenched fist even though I was upset.

"So I've heard from other patients."

"If I ever hear you say that to another stroke survivor, I'm going to paddle your butt. You are the authority they look to for hope and straight answers. It would be so easy for a survivor to give up trying for recovery. They need encouragement whether their stroke was yesterday or fifteen years past. You don't want to be the cause of someone giving up, do you?"

She nodded. "I can be encouraging."

"I know you will be. You're just new to all of this and you haven't gained enough experience, but it will come." I reached over and patted her on the shoulder. "Just remember, this grandma with a paddle waiting."

She helped me up from the work table. Across the room, I saw the man I had a run in with about men folk coming here to work not rubbed on. I nodded in his direction.

My OT chuckled, "After last time, she decided to work on him away from everyone else. He didn't learn his lesson and still running off at the mouth."

I shook my head and said a silent prayer of forgiveness for him. "Some people will never learn. Good, ol', southern boys are the worst at learning."

She cocked her head sideways at the Nu-Step machine, "Southern gals too."

"Yeah, I'm a transplant. In Georgia by choice. There are quite a few times when I'm delighted to say that."

"Me too! An hour earlier on Friday?"

"I'll be here with bells on. You make me hurt so good." I said with a laugh.

She walked me out of the therapy room. At the door, instead of walking through and holding the door for me, she pushed it from inside. "My next patient is here and I don't want her to see me. She's a good, ol' gal."

As I passed the seating area, I saw her. Hair fizzed and sprayed to the high heavens. I could just see the rebel flag tattoo on her arm under her rolled up, grungy t-shirt sleeve over cut-off jeans shorts. Enough make-up to put Tammy Faye Baker to shame. Her crass voice carried across the waiting room. Yes, no doubt about who the patient was.

I continued walking out the sliding doors and took a deep breath on non-White Shoulders perfumed air. The woman must have used half a bottle of the stuff.


  1. I won't die happy until I stop hearing therapists say there is a finite window for recovery. Have your OT read my post on neuroplasticity.

  2. Now she's picked up a patient 10 years post stroke and he's making positive progress, but I'll pass the blog on.


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