OT/PT Two-step

Where I discover why MSers have physical and occupational therapy.

As I talked to MSers on the helpline, I began to notice that those already on SSDI and Medicaid had regular physical and occupational therapy.  The therapist would even come to his or her house!

[In fact, often times the repeat callers were just waiting for a therapy appointment and called to chat until then.  Nice. Well it is “peer-to-peer” so…uh… glad to help!]

I surmised that this was a service that those permanently disabled and on Medicare, for example, routinely received as part of this assistance.

Then I wondered why none of my health care team had ever mentioned it for me.  Not my general practitioner, my neurologist, his assistant, or even my counselor.  Was it because I was still working and thus enrolled in private health insurance which considered that an unnecessary service?

I set out to discover whether it was available to me, and whether it even would be helpful for me.

I asked my new primary doctor about it and whether she could prescribe it for me, preferably with a service that would come to my house.

[I don’t drive anymore and OH will have to have hernia-repair surgery in the near future, so I thought that home visits would make more sense.]

Sure enough, she was shocked that this had never been recommended to me, and within a week I had an appointment with a physical therapist who would come to my house.  An occupational therapist would also be calling.

Since I wasn’t sure what goals each would arrange with me, I was a little dubious.  What kind of exercise plan should I be doing, given the reality that my disease is neurological and slowly progressing?  If I exercise to build muscle, won’t that just atrophy again when I can no longer move it?

But it’s now been a few weeks, and I’ve met and been assessed by both and am feeling cautiously optimistic. 

The first time she came, the physical therapist checked my vitals, then gave me a handout of simple exercises she wants me to do daily.  Lastly she asked me to climb our staircase with her so she could see how I was managing it.

She was very pleased that I was still able to make it, but she told me that I probably would need to have a stairlift installed eventually, and not to wait until then to research options.

Next, the occupational therapist came.  I wasn’t exactly sure what kinds of goals that therapist would make either.

But she took my vitals as well, and then we walked around the house where she made recommendations for simple household changes to make things easier and safer for me.

She had me sit at my desk to see the ergonomics, and then told me that it would be better if I had a worktable that was lower than my desk and tilted towards me, or even to hold my laptop on my lap. [Oh, that’s why they call it that!]

She suggested a shower chair, even though OH had already built corner seating in the walk-in shower.  She was concerned about me bathing without him when he was in the hospital, for example.

[The next day he found one at the end of the day of an estate sale, and got it for free!]

We talked about goals I might want to set.  I’d wanted to learn to write with my left hand for years since my right hand had become uncontrollable, and although I knew how to fall, I wanted to learn how to get back up.

I admit that the same arguments I’ve made about building muscle apply here, too.  And when I asked my new, new neurologist [my old, new neurologist left to get married] if I should bother, he said diplomatically, that since I’d already begun, I should try it for two months then decide.  If it made no difference, I could quit at that time.

But he also pointed out that it made sense to him to try to keep as flexible and mobile as possible if, for example, a cure was discovered in my lifetime.  So I’d be ready to take advantage of it.  He said “I’m just sayin’…”

So I’ll commit for a few months at least.  I’ll keep you posted.

One response to “OT/PT Two-step”

  1. (Son 1) has been in occupational therapy for years. I am amazed sometimes at how a simple change in surroundings or the way we approach activities can change the outcome with him. I hope you will be pleasantly surprised.

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