I’ve already written about starting physical therapy here, and I figured that I should start writing about my visits to an occupational therapist, what I’ve learned, and any advice that I can give to you based on what I’ve experienced.
So here you are: full blown, no holds barred; this is what goes down when you break your neck and you need to start using your dominant hand for something other than a prop when you need to carry something.
Today I met with an occupational therapist for the first time since the accident. Because my brace is off, I’ve been cleared to lift weights up to thirty pounds with my upper body, and as much as seems reasonable and appropriate with my lower body.
I visited an occupational therapist for my hand and arm. Even now, I’m still confused about the difference between an occupational therapist and a physical therapist. Maybe some knowledgable souls can help me out by posting their answer to that question in the comments below.
Before the actual screening process even began, I s run through the usual medical history questionnaire, along with a full set of upper body strength and range of motion tests. Between all of the doctors, nurses, and medical professionals that I’ve had to visit, one of the few things in common between them all is the strength and range of motion test. By now, I practically have that thing memorized. I might have even had a dream where I was taking a range of motion test! Haha
The occupational therapist, who is often just referred to as an “OT”, helped me out by screening through what issues I should be worrying about and what will just take time to recover from. After eliminating things like fatigue and some soreness in my muscles in my neck that I haven’t used since my anterior cervical diskectomy and fusion (ACDF) as simply caused by not being used to using the muscles, we moved on to range of motion and deep pain.
The OT massaged out some of the small, stabilizing muscles in my neck and then had me do some exercises to work them out and increase the up and down range that my head could travel. Before doing any exercise, he measured the exact degree of my range of motion, and then the degree at which I could move afterwords. Consistently, my range of motion was always increased by at least 10 degrees, if not more.
After stretching me out and checking my nerve function and assuring me that I was recovering at a normal rate and telling me that I’m recovering faster than most people do after an anterior cervical diskectomy and fusion (I would ha used the acronym there to save time, but for some reason my OT would always call the surgery by it’s full name. He was fine with being called an OT instead of an occupational therapist though, for some reason), he gave me a packet of things that I’m supposed to do, and also told me how often I’m supposed to do each one. After the appointment, I bought a Home Ranger Shoulder Pulley (model 240) to help me do passive range of motion exercises. I think the pulley is great and already after a few uses I feel my should and arm loosening up.
In my case, my range of motion is better when I’m not engaging the muscles in my arm or shoulder, so using the pulley helps me stretch out. Then, I do the same exercises that I had done passively and assist with my left arm, helping my muscles and nerve relearn where to go and how to feel. I could go on; but I think that a full on review might have to wait for a separate post. Maybe I’ll set up an amazon affiliate account, and if you want to buy a pulley after reading my review of it, you can get the same low price that you would always get on amazon, and help support my site, my tours, my message, and my fundraising all at the same time.
Anyways, my first meeting with an occupational therapist went great. My occupational therapist is smart, efficient, and professional, all without losing that personal touch and feel. If you’re nervous about your rehabilitation you shouldn’t be, because you’ll have a great physical or occupational therapist helping you out.