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When you have a hip replacement, or any orthopedic surgery of significance often physical therapy is recommended and sometimes required. As a disabled person, I have done tons of occupational and physical therapy and have benefited from it because if it wasn’t for all those therapy sessions, I would not have the ability to walk or be as independent as I am now. In September I had to have my hip redone because the original hip replacement did not take and ended up fracturing my femur which unfortunately cannot be fixed by exercising and needs surgery. Most people who have hip replacement surgery are up walking the next day, but I couldn’t do that because I have limited sensation in my legs, and you can’t teach me to walk with less pressure and it’s all or nothing. I was put on bed rest for about two months so my hip could heal some but about a month I was cleared to start walking. Since I had hip surgery a little over a year ago I decided that physical therapy was not necessary for me because I knew all the exercises and my doctor was willing to write a script if I needed it but was okay with my decision to not want to do therapy. When people hear I am not doing physical therapy often they are surprised and will say that I most definitely need it to improve my strength, but I don’t think people realize that I do not benefit from it as much as abled people do. In this post, I am going to talk about why I decided that physical therapy was not necessary for me.
Most of the exercises weren’t that hard- Physical therapy can benefit a lot of people after orthopedic surgeries but when you have a disability such as Spina Bifida it’s different because most therapists treat abled-bodied people a majority of the time and when a disabled person comes in they have no idea what to do. You can’t treat a disabled person with a physical disability in the same way as you would an abled-bodied person because some of my muscles do not work and you can’t expect me to do exercises that work muscles I do not have. When I was in physical therapy I spent most of my time experimenting with new exercises that I came up with myself because most of the one’s professionals taught me were useless or weren’t that hard because it was designed for someone that had a normal hip replacement and all their muscles worked. Physical therapy gave me some good exercises but most of the common ones that were supposed to be really hard were easy for me and I felt nothing because I use different muscles when I exercise. Some people say that physical therapy is hard but for me it was the easiest thing I did all day because I was not challenged and was expected to exercise in the same way as abled people can.
I was given some bad advice- The main reason I do not want to do physical therapy is because I was given bad advice and I don’t know if it caused my fracture but I think it could have contributed to it. In the early days of my recovery, I was told that if I did Yoga that my recovery time would be slashed in half because the more you exercise the quicker you will get movement. At the time I did not realize that if you do Yoga too soon it can cause damage because my therapist was telling me I needed it to regain strength and of course I listened because she was the professional and was supposed to know more about rehab than I do. I am sure that my therapist was not trying to give me bad advice because for all I know doing Yoga could have been safe for most able-bodied people but hip replacement recovery is different when you have Spina Bifida and often can take a little bit longer than it would for abled-bodied people. I don’t think my therapist understood that my disability makes things different because I was expected to do the same types of exercises as abled people but you can’t expect disabled people to do the same types of things because some activities my disability limits and is impossible. Why not just get a new therapist? The problem isn’t finding a therapist but it’s finding one that is knowledgeable in Spina Bifida that can give something helpful. If I knew a physical therapist that treated Spina Bifida specifically I would be more inclined to do therapy but since I don’t I do not think it’s worth it because I may run into the same problem with someone else. I don’t understand why therapists are not trained to treat disabled people because a majority of people doing physical therapy are disabled.
Walking is the best exercise- There are some exercises that can help you regain hip strength but nothing is as good as walking around your house. Why do need to pay someone when all they are going to do is follow me around and watch me walk? I can do that at home and I don’t have to wear a safety belt that just increases my fall risk because it’s in the way. I understand that during physical therapy sessions that, they are required to make you wear a safety belt because people do fall in therapy and they don’t want to be held liable for it but when you walk with crutches it’s more than an annoyance and when people are holding on to you it restricts your ability to move.
It makes me lazy– I think some people think that I will exercise less when I am not doing therapy but the opposite is true and I end up walking more. When I did therapy after my original hip replacement I got super lazy and the only time I did any sufficient amount of walking was in therapy and even during my session I was not walking that much. I could not motivate myself to walk or do any kind of exercise outside of therapy because I convinced myself that I didn’t need to walk when I had designated therapy sessions to do that for me. I did some exercise when I was in therapy but it was not near as much as I should have been doing and I didn’t really start to push myself until I was not able to get therapy anymore. I sat in my wheelchair a lot because walking was hard but now I do several laps around my house multiple times a day because I am dependent on myself to get exercise done and before I was never motivated to exercise that much and I was doing good if I did one lap once a week. You can make progress in your recovery if the only time you exercise is during therapy but it’s going to be a lot slower than if you were to do it daily.
Physical therapy benefits a lot of people after hip replacement surgery and I can understand people’s concerns when I tell them I am not doing it but at the same time, you have to trust that it’s not my first rodeo and I know my body more than any therapist will. Physical therapy would help me regain strength faster if all the exercises were catered to my disability and, I actually did them outside of therapy but unfortunately, it’s really hard to find a therapist that works with disabled people who is familiar with your kind of challenges and sometimes it feels like a waste of time. I opted out of therapy not because I didn’t feel like spending the time to do it, but I didn’t want to get more bad advice and I didn’t think I would learn anything I didn’t already know. My choice to not do therapy is something that I feel was the right thing for me but that does not mean everyone who has hip replacement surgery should do the same thing because it’s totally fine for people who do not have a disability. Physical therapy is necessary for people going through something for the very first time and needs guidance to create an appropriate exercise routine for them. What was your experience with physical therapy after hip replacement surgery?
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