By Alexander Germanis
The human body is capable of some truly incredible physical feats. Some people run 100-mile endurance races, some compete in grueling triathlons, and others can perform gravity-defying gymnastics. Amazing skills are not limited to the athletic world, of course. Musicians and artists often utilize tremendous dexterity to perform complex concertos or sculpt magnificent masterpieces.
These feats of skill are impossible, however, if a person does not first dedicate months if not years to practice and training and if a person is not in the proper physical condition to execute them.
Injuries can waylay anyone, however, no matter their skill level. Broken bones, torn ligaments, or recovering from surgery cannot only make extraordinary tasks unattainable, but they can also make even the simplest tasks of daily living excruciating or downright impossible to perform.
For anyone experiencing such difficulties, the physical therapists of Plaza Physical Therapy in Davenport can help. Whether you have lost proper use of a limb due to injury or surgery, their staff will help you overcome the pain and difficulty, guide you through recovery, and help return you to living life.
All facets of the human being are interconnected. Like any fragile ecosystem in this varied world of ours, a balance must be maintained for the whole entity to function as it is supposed to. If one aspect suffers or is ignored, every other facet eventually feels the strain.
“It wasn’t until I started working more specifically with patients with arm and hand injuries, deformities, and surgeries that I realized how much physical impairments impact one’s mental health,” says Plaza Physical Therapist Elizabeth Miller.
A focus on this interconnectivity led Elizabeth to her profession in the first place. Wanting to work directly with people, she wanted to help them do more than just heal physically. “As a multi-sport athlete growing up, I’ve always had a fondness for exercise and activity,” she shares. “But I also had a keen interest in the brain and the mind. This led to my decision to pursue physical therapy because I would be able to integrate my love for biology and psychology.”
Our interconnectedness with the world around us is what eventually led Elizabeth to her current foci in physical therapy: the hand, wrist, and elbow. But, according to her, this almost never happened.
“I never imagined myself becoming a certified hand therapist when I was in PT school. My eyes would glaze over during anatomy class when we would study the elbow, wrist, or hand because I figured: The occupational therapists would take care of that,” she admits. “After working as a physical therapist for about four years, an opportunity came about for me to start working more specifically with hand, wrist, and elbow injuries. I’m not one to back away from a challenge, so I jumped in and never looked back.”
Of course, injuries to any other body parts certainly create their own sets of challenges, concedes Elizabeth. “But the temporary or permanent loss of function that our upper extremities allow us to do affects many, if not all, of our daily activities,” she states. “Our hands function in such a wide array of activities like touching, holding, manipulating, carrying, pushing, and pulling. We use our hands daily for fine and precise movements, heavy and powerful activities, for communication, and in a sensory capacity.”
Body and Mind
If there is a school of thought Elizabeth shows she subscribes to it’s that the body cannot heal without the mind. This is why she always includes patient education as a part of her treatment program. “It’s important to teach the patient about their condition and work with them to find appropriate activity modifications for them to heal and reduce pain while still maintaining high function and quality of life,” she explains.
Whether she is helping her patients through injuries like lateral epicondylitis (better known as tennis elbow), fractures, or arthritis and nerve entrapment disorders, she is dedicated to getting her patients back to living by getting them back to moving.
“Our arms allow us to have the highest level of movement in space,” states Elizabeth. “This makes up a large portion of our ability to perform basic and necessary daily tasks such as dressing, bathing, and eating. Quite often I hear patients express how difficult and frustrating life is after a surgery or an injury to the shoulder, wrist, hand, or elbow, as they experience the challenges of performing these basics tasks single-handedly—tasks many of us take for granted with two arms.”
More on Hand Than Just Hands
The more activities the body is capable of performing, the more ways the body can get injured. Fortunately, Plaza Physical Therapy sets itself apart by offering more ways to treat and heal those various injuries.
Plaza has therapists trained in a variety of specialties and other services, including sports medicine, total joint rehabilitation, back pain, hand therapy, trigger point needling, vertigo treatment, and functional capacity evaluation.
Functional capacity evaluation is a series of tests that measure a person’s physical strength, range of motion, stamina, and tolerance of functional activities with the goal of determining that person’s ability to return to work.
For Bonita Kiser, one of Plaza’s patients, her need was to simply return to her daily activities. “I fell and fractured my wrist. A plate was inserted to stabilize the injury,” she says. “The injury made life harder. Daily activities were made much harder and I wasn’t able to use that arm.”
One of Plaza’s therapists, Kerri, was there for Bonita not only after her first surgery, but through several more surgeries as well. “Kerri is great!” Bonita declares. “She is always there to answer my questions and is willing to text my doctor to help make me feel comfortable. Kerri really does care about her patients. She has seen me improve; her physical therapy has gotten me back to completing daily activities and back to living life.”
A Team Effort
While there are some individuals who are self-taught in their chosen disciplines, most people benefit greatly from being guided by an expert in that field—someone with experience who can lead them along their path quickly and efficiently. When you are in pain and not able to do what you once did, even the thought of ‘going it alone’ can make things worse.
At Plaza Physical Therapy, every member of the staff is dedicated to being a supportive team behind their patients. From the front desk staff making the appointment process easier to the physical therapy staff who work one-on-one with each patient, their goal is a united one.
“Patients benefit from our ability to work directly with the providers that prescribe physical therapy in order to provide a teamwork approach to their care,” Elizabeth confirms. “Our primary goal and focus are providing the best care possible to patients in order to help them recover from their injury or surgery. We work hard to provide individualized care and treatment to our patients based on their injuries and their goals.”
Plaza Physical Therapy is located at 3385 Dexter Court, Suite 301 in Davenport.
If you are recovering from an injury or surgery and would like to make an
appointment with one of our therapists, please give us a call at (563) 344-6645
or visit us on the web at www.plazaphysicaltherapy.com.