KTLA reporter, Gayle Anderson, had a torn meniscus in her right knee. She had just gotten approval from her insurance company for a knee surgery when she came to CompletePT’s pool for the first time. She wasn’t there as a patient, but doing a news story on pool therapy. Orthopedic surgeon, Robert Klapper, M.D., was part of that segment along with me, my staff and our patients. Dr. Klapper advised Gayle not to have the meniscus surgery, but instead to get into the pool for two to three months to help the knee repair itself without surgery. Gayle was skeptical, but she sensed something true in the bold New Yorker’s tone and she went for it.
Gayle stayed in the pool with us for many months, not stopping just because the pain went away, but using the water rehab program for high-end athletic training and fitness. She had been a former basketball player and knew what it felt like to be in top shape – and she wanted that back again. By the time she left CompletePT, she was sprinting at top speed in elbow-deep water and doing high-intensity plyometric jumping exercises in chest-deep water. She never had knee surgery.
Gayle was back at CompletePT today, featuring us because October is National Physical Therapy Month. While we had done pool stories with her previously, we had never focused on the excellent land therapy we also provide. This time Gayle wanted to show both.
Assistant Clinical Director, Kevin Wagner, MSPT, CSCS, had three of his top male patients available for the land shoot. A stuntman had sustained a left hip injury that affected the surrounding muscles. Kevin had him doing strengthening exercises for the camera. A Disneyland barber shop quartet singer was rear-ended by a texting teenager going 65-miles per hour causing serious strain to his neck and upper back. He couldn’t turn his neck. Now, thanks for Kevin’s manual work on the neck and upper back muscles, his neck is becoming mobile. The third patient was 17 when he broke his neck playing high school football. He has a partial spinal cord injury. He started in the pool for many months before transitioning to land where he could gain strength against his worst enemy, gravity. This patient told me today that he feels completely human while he’s in the pool because he can do just about anything he wants to: he can do squats, marching, side stepping and much more. Then he gets out and gravity prevents him from doing a lot of basic movements of daily living.
After shooting two 2 to 3-minute segments, we moved to the pool for two more segments. The stuntman and the football player joined a full group of therapists and patients already there. A young woman with four young children told how she came to CompletePT in a wheelchair four years ago and now she can walk. She has Stage 4 breast cancer that has metastasized to her liver and bone and now into her brain. She said physical therapy saved her life by keeping her strong and motivated so she can be here for her children. A stage manager who moved a 400 lb. desk and ruptured a lumbar disk explained how he could now sleep at night because he’s out of pain, how he can walk, and bike, and do normal daily activities without being in constant pain anymore.
Gayle always makes any TV shoot high spirited and lots of fun. Today, however, what caught my attention the most was the complexity of the patients being seen and how well they are responding to both our pool and land physical therapy.
Lynda Huey, M.S., founder of CompletePT and Huey’s Athletic Network, is a former athlete and coach whose own injuries led her into the water to find fitness and healing. She was educated at San Jose State University where she starred on the track and field team during its golden years.