Are therapists the worst patients?

I know my updates have been a little rare lately, I have, unfortunately been having a lot of pain recently. Muscles in the low back, upper back, neck and shoulders have all be yelling for some attention lately. This leads me (aka- biggest worrier in the world) wondering what actions from my occupations at home or work have played a role in the pains, whether I'm using bad body mechanics trying to transfer people, whether I'm sleeping wrong, whether my computer station is setup wrong etc etc.

Outside of my worries related specifically to pain, I have started to ponder about therapists who find themselves in the role of patient. It has been well researched that patients do not like or follow an extensive home exercise program. I'd say that there is also a strong anecdotal base at least that indicates that medical professionals (including PT/OT) will often put off getting help for physical ailments in favor of self-diagnosis. I know that this is a habit of mine that I'm halfheartedly trying to break, but it's a lot easier to grab the ultrasound machine and rub it on your knee for ten minutes than to get an official referral for someone else to do it.

But there are occasions when the medical professional finds themselves at the hands of their peers. You've seen the retired nurse admitted to the hospital who often bemoans the current staff. But how does the therapist react to being the therapy patient? Are they more likely to participate, follow their HEP to the letter, and use equipment for ADLs? Do they refuse OT treatment? Or are the largest changes seen after a person has been on the receiving end- do they change their practice in some way after a revelation of what treatment is really like?

The only time I had therapy for myself was in high school, for a twisted ankle. I can recall several exercises that I only did once. At the point that I got basic function back and was off my crutches, exercises became a faint memory. Years later, as the ankle routinely tightens up, I wish I had done the exercises. Yet even now, I know pilates/yoga/therapy exercises that would help my back if I did them everyday, I have a membership at the wellness center and a customized weightlifting plan, I have access to a warm water pool. I haven't (as of yet) started vigorously persuing any of these. It's hard to work out when you are tired after work, in pain, or just want to relish your minimal down time. Hopefully I will break the cycle.


SusanNM said...

What a great topic. I had to quit working as an occupational therapist 3 years ago due to Lupus. My memory sucks and I know I probably would benefit from a memory notebook, but I find them very irritating. I also used to try wearing a wrist brace, but they are hot and irritating as well.
I had a small stroke about 6 years ago and no, I didn't go to the ER. Instead, I took a hot bath, went to bed and prayed. How stupid! I know!. But I thought I had another one a couple of weeks ago and went to my dr. A neurologist, MRIs later told me that I was not having any more strokes, but was having neuro symptoms due to having inflammation that pushes on a vertebral artery on the right side...which is "withered" due to congenital condition.
Anyway, I do use my OT knowledge to do my own fine motor exercises, I work on pacing my life. Pacing is an amazingly difficult thing for me to do.
I had been "superOT". Worked 70-80 hours a week plus documentation at home.
My advice: take it easy, feed your soul, nurture your body, and for heaven's sake....go see a doctor when you should. :)

Cheryl said...

Thanks for your comment! It is hard to step back, take a break, and put yourself in the patient role. Best I can figure out now that my sickness is over is that I was fighting off the flu for 2 weeks. So fortunately for me, all the back pain went away with the cold. Now I just have to self-limit computer time to avoid ortho/nerve issues related to too much of that. :)