Using Physical Therapy to Stay Active

My doctor continues to prescribe me physical therapy (PT). I've been going for a couple of years now. I even have certain therapists I prefer because we have built a relationship.

I started physical therapy when I began having trouble walking. And even though I've been in a wheelchair for many years now, I still attend at least once a week. My purpose in going to therapy is to work on strengthening my core. A strong core not only gives you a flat stomach, it also provides good balance and posture.

Strengthening the core

A lot of people think the core is just the abdomen. But my therapist, Kelly, showed me that more muscles are involved. She explained it to me like this.

Think of your core as a soda can. The front of the can is your stomach, the back is your back, and the bottom is your pelvic floor (pee muscles). All of these parts together make up your core. Understand?

My physical therapy visits are structured. In most sessions we concentrate on effective abdominal strengthening exercises. But it is always a guessing game as to what I will do that day because my limitations change. We try to adjust treatment intervention towards my newest problem area.

Using a standing frame

Also, through this process, I've been introduced to many new pieces of equipment. One is called a standing frame. It is my favorite PT device. This machine takes me from my wheelchair to a standing position. I usually stay in it for 30 to 40 minutes. I pass the time by reading or listening to music. It is amazing.

My physical therapist says, “We're not suppose to be sitting all the time.” And I wholeheartedly agree with her. So I try to stand as often as possible.

The first time I was in the standing frame, I fainted. The physical therapy staff even called an ambulance for me. I fainted because my blood pressure dropped. So when I use it now, the staff usually monitors me a little closer than most. And despite my fainting spell, I still recommend this machine to anyone who needs to stand. The cardio vascular benefits are incredible.

I go to PT at a neurological clinic, so I see many different people who seem far worse than I am. Some have paralysis from strokes, car accidents and falls. I have also met a few who are quadriplegic and a couple of people with cerebral palsy. Most days I leave there feeling lucky I just have multiple sclerosis.

Therapeutic horseback riding

My physical therapy also involves horseback riding. The farm where I ride horses is a therapeutic horseback riding class for children and adults with disabilities. The class last for 40 minutes and it only costs $25.

I have learned the important thing is to just keep moving. So to keep in step with that motto, I do physical therapy on Tuesdays and horseback riding on Thursdays. Often times my husband helps me. But really it is all up to me. So I hope you get inspired, no matter your situation and just stay as active as you can.

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