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  • Writer's picturePiotr Solowiej

Thank you for pushing me

That was the salutation from a client at the end of my last session for the day.

Here's the scenario: this individual is a senior, fresh (4 weeks) off of a lumbar surgery, and hasn't done much of anything in the way of physical activity over that period for fear of making the situation worse. Their goals are to walk more and return to golf without pain.

In the examination it was identified that certain key muscle groups were performing poorly. Specifically in the legs, barely able to counter a small amount of manual force in several directions of motion. This correlated with subjective reports of difficulties with using the stairs, especially on the way down.

Challenges are relative, and I get that everyone doesn't need or want to be pushed. I have learned that the hard way at times. Changes don't come easy and often involve some combination of mental, physical, or social challenge or stress. Those are the basics of adaptation.

In order for this person to achieve their goals, they were going to have to adapt in some way. Which, again, will likely involved some mental and physical stress in order to facilitate those changes. Given the age of this individual (they're into their 8th decade on this floating rock), I think many therapists would write them off as delicate and unwilling to do the work to make changes.

While potentially true, such attitudes cannot be assumed and are not exclusive to seniors. Such an assumption is an unfair projection of frailty. How do you know if you don't talk about it?

We had a frank discussion about their goals, the exam findings, and what the deficit in current abilities means for treatment planning and how they could expect their body to respond to strength training.

I've seen this person a few times and the work done in each session is difficult and often uncomfortable for them to complete. Relatively, something like a step and reach may be super easy or super hard, depending on a host of factors.

For this person, it's a super hard exercise. Yet when they left today they thanked me for it. Reflecting on this interaction has me appreciative of the subtle art of keeping an open mind and listening to the person in front of you.

Human better, people. Thanks for reading.

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