This month I ask my colleague Nick Williamson, who treats patients who have had strokes or head injuries or have balance and movement problems to explain what he does and how.
Appointments with Nick are available at my physiotherapy clinic on the Crescent – phone on 01775 711822. He will also do home visits for patients who cannot travel.
“When asked what I do, I tell people that I deal with disorders of balance, posture and movement. Over 25 years ago I met a physiotherapist named Noreen Hare (RIP) and she taught me to not get bogged-down with the diagnosis but instead to take a step back and look at the person.
So I don’t rush in and put “hands-on” – I step back and look at their posture, I look at how they sit, how they lie, I look at how they move, I look at their level of ability as much as assessing the level of their disability.
I say to patients sometimes: “I’m letting your body tell me the story”. When I have the “story” clear in my head then I can explain to patients what their problems are, where things are going wrong, and if I think we can do anything about it. I say “we” because it is a joint venture; it is about patients making significant changes to their everyday life and not just about doing a few “common” exercises.
As far as movement of the body goes there are two important external elements: gravity and the supporting surface. Gravity is a never-ending force that is pulling the body down towards the supporting surface. The supporting surface can be the floor we stand on or a chair we sit in.
I look at what happens to your body on the supporting surface and try to work out what’s going wrong.
Once we have the story sorted, then we can work out what exercises and changes need to be made to try and combat what has happened to their body as a result of their problems, whether it be a stroke or Parkinson’s disease, a head injury or motor neurone disease (and recently I have seen a number of young adults struggling with the long terms problems of cerebral palsy).
You see, so many conditions can cause a change in how the body responds to gravity and the supporting surface and that’s where I can try to help.
It is very hard work, and I cannot do it for you, but I can set you on the right road to being the best you can. For some people, however, success is measured not by a significant positive change but by a reduction in the rate of deterioration and in situations like this it is important that the physiotherapist is honest with the patient to minimise the opportunity for confusion.