From Crutches To High Heels – A Girl’s Story Of Getting Back On Her Feet

by | Jun 5, 2017

A client, Mrs. Hoffman, asked me if I treated post-surgery cases as a daughter of a good friend suffered physical disability after a traumatic accident. She wanted me to be able to help the young girl in hopes that I would be able to help her path to recovery.

Two days later, I received a call from Mrs. Madison who sought an appointment request for her daughter, Miss Jennifer. I was not given any medical history or information over the phone and unknown to me was the severity of the presented problem.

From An Active Lifestyle To A Mere Observer

Mrs. Madison, a very polite and joyful woman in her mid-forties accompanied her 15-year-old daughter, Miss Jennifer. Miss Jennifer was blonde and slim and was dressed in the obligatory school uniform. She was a very characteristic young and healthy girl except that she walked with the aid of two crutches. She leaned on the crutches, with minimal weight bearing on the right foot and a forward-tilted body from having to lean onto it at all attempted moves.

As told by Mrs. Madison, Miss Jennifer’s condition came after a tragic trampoline incident 10 months ago. She suffered a severe left knee dislocation, tendons and ligaments tear, and artery damage followed by multiple knee surgeries over the course of many months. Rehabilitation was long and ongoing – there were periods of hospitalisations, immobilisation, and physiotherapy sessions which changed Miss Jennifer’s active lifestyle into the complete opposite as a passive observer.

The first time I saw Miss Jennifer, she had just undergone general aesthetic mobilisation of the knee. It resulted in an increase in flexibility from 94 to 130 degrees. She also attended thrice a week physiotherapy sessions to maintain and gain more mobility. These proved to be difficult tasks as the knee muscles kept contracting into 122 degrees, flexion, minus 10-degree knee extension and a very tight Achilles tendon. The lack of knee extension and ankle tightness made full weight bearing impossible. It gave her no choice but to use two crutches at all times.

Setting Expectations

Before considering any assessment, I asked Mrs. Madison and Miss Jennifer to what extent they expected the problem to improve through my therapy sessions. This was so that I could deliver a realistic outcome. All they wanted and hoped for was to help release some muscle tightness, to improve body balance and thereby to gain physical strength. I assured them that I believed that I would be able to release the muscle groups around the knee and ankle with the benefit of a less painful and easier mobilisation for Miss Jennifer and the physiotherapist.

Being a mother of three children, I could almost feel the hurt and despair this terrible accident caused this active teenage girl. Add to this how devastating it must be for the parents and family to witness the physical and emotional trauma. Miss Jennifer’s life was transformed from a highly recognised rugby player, cross-country runner and lively popular social class member to being surrounded by medical professionals, constant therapy sessions and a passive observer of her beloved sports activities.

We all agreed that my therapy would be an extra support and supplement for the scheduled physiotherapy session and upcoming surgery of a replacement of the anterior cruciate ligament in the left knee in one month. I was determined to be part of an absolute physical, emotional and mental support to Miss Jennifer for as long as she wanted, and since that day, we have shared many heartfelt moments together.

Tailor-Made Touch Therapy

Miss Jennifer showed me her left leg without hesitation. The affected leg had upper muscle atrophy, multiple long reddish enlarged scar growth and severe knee swelling which concealed the actual joint and patella. There was no need to assess the active range of motion as she knew the degrees off by heart, flexion 120 and minus 10 in extension. Lying on the table with a pillow under her knees, it was obvious that the tight Achilles tendon pulled her foot into a slight dropping position.

The expectation for seeking my help was clearly based on a physical improvement of the knee and ankle mobility. I decided to spend the first treatment session on a result-based therapy with the intention that it would bring a noticeable positive change in the range of motion to the knee and ankle. I hoped this move would bring optimism into Miss Jennifer’s long-term sufferings.

Taking into account the case history, I let Miss Jennifer’s mother stay in the treatment room to allow comfort and support and to also let her observe the therapy approach and to witness the end result. The first session lasted only 15 minutes and in complete silence. Miss Jennifer looked at me and exclaimed that both the knee and the ankle joints felt looser and easier to mobilise. She sat up with newfound energy when we realised that not only did we increase the knee flexion with six degrees but some of the swelling subsided around the knee joint.

Healed from knee painMiss Jennifer happily and quickly got down from the table and reached out for her crutches and walked around with a big smile on her face. She was even eager and asked when she had to come back for the next session.

Complementary Treatments

Since that day, Miss Jennifer came on regular visits when time allowed in between three weekly physiotherapy sessions, doctor appointments, surgeries and school commitments. My treatments were in no way able to stand on its own but they became a positive complementary facilitator during the long-term recovery process. Other than the focus on releasing the muscles and lymphatic drainage, I started to treat the scar growth and found South African oil that helped to improve the rigid tissue and uneven skin tone. Her trust in me opened up for many of her personal thoughts about the change of lifestyle and her wishes and dreams about the future.

Later on, Miss Jennifer came unaccompanied to the sessions. She walked through the door with a familiar attitude. Sometimes, she would just lie down to receive the treatment in silence and enjoyed a well-needed rest after a long day at school or she would engage in conversation about her life in her own personal and genuine style of humour.

Lasting Results

Within the year that I saw Miss Jennifer, she went from being dependent on crutches to walking independently and with moderate running on a treadmill. Her will and perseverance were undoubtedly one of the largest factors of the positive outcome of her healing process. During the many sessions with me, she talked about her love and admiration of owning a pair of beautiful high heel shoes. Her dreams came true a few months later as she proudly wore and walked confidently in high heels at her final grade 10 graduation gala party.

In the next few blogs, I will be giving you some more inspirational true stories from my book Pain Free, because I really think that they will bring you closer to understanding the meaning and purpose of what we do.

Do you have a similar story? Please share it with us.

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