By Victoria Gresh, OPTA Executive Director

It’s an interesting view from the other side. It’s one thing to advocate for a profession, and another to experience first-hand the services your members provide. Last fall while training for a race, I managed to successfully limp home from a seven-mile run, and I never ran again that year. The diagnosis was a torn posterior tibial tendon due to a congenital deformity of an accessory navicular bone in my right foot. Though I pretended that it would, indeed, heal itself, that was not the case.

Following our awesome 2015 Annual Conference this spring, I had surgery to remove the accessory navicular bone and repair the tendon. Like many patients (and my members) who are active and committed to a healthy lifestyle, I weighed the pros and cons: a lifetime of continued foot pain and never running again, or taking a risk on surgery, and potentially never running again. The choice was easy. My surgeon assured me I would be up and running within six months.

After a brief love/hate relationship with my soft wrap and cold therapy unit, I was casted for six weeks and moved through life on my scooter. Since I was unable to drive, the OPTA staff got to know my family members/chauffeurs who transported me to and from work. My husband only forgot me once, so we considered that time period a success.

The real work began in mid-June when I was cleared for physical therapy. Of course, my therapist had to be an OPTA member—non-negotiable. Molly Weigand PT, MPT, OCS and her OhioHealth team were up to the task and immediately told me to lose the boot, which I had grown dependent upon post-cast. Whether it was picking up marbles with my uncooperative toes, or attempting various balancing exercises on my new bionic foot, they provided unwavering encouragement, support and a breath of knowledge that made me proud to represent the profession. I was challenged each and every session—and at home—to test my limits and learn new boundaries. Anyone who has had reconstructive surgery knows that many times your limits are in your head, not your body. They assured me time and time again that my foot was strong and my muscles were rebuilding.

Back to running!

Back to running!

I’m happy to report that armed with custom orthotics, new running shoes and new-found confidence, I was back running within four months of my surgery. I’m still a work in progress and will be for some time, but without the support of my physical therapy team, it would certainly not be possible. So thank you for giving me my life back, Molly Weigand PT, MPT. I’m proud to be an advocate, a consumer and an absolute success story for the profession!

image-6

The OPTA Team interviewed Victoria about her experience. Read more below.

OPTA Team: Why did you feel physical therapy was the best treatment option?

Victoria: It was recommended protocol for the type of surgery that I had following my injury. I was actually looking forward to it because I was excited to get my life back. Having worked with the profession for more than three years, I was fully aware of the outstanding services they provide to their patients. Now it was my turn to experience that firsthand.

OPTA Team: Have you ever used physical therapy as a treatment option before?

Victoria: No. I have always been extremely lucky that I haven’t had any sports (or other) related injuries. Growing up I was a gymnast, so there were many soft tissue injuries—sprains and strains—but I was lucky to escape unharmed. I played lacrosse in college and that is when my accessory navicular syndrome started to become an issue with mobility. The trainers would wrap my feet to stabilize them, but I was still able to be active without much pain. I became a runner later in life and over the years I’ve tried many options to ease my foot pain. Unfortunately, it was just the wear and tear on my feet over time that caused the tendon to shred and require surgery. I don’t regret my active lifestyle at all, and the surgery and physical therapy were worth it. I would do it all over again.

OPTA Team: Is there anything about the experience that you didn’t expect?

Victoria: I honestly didn’t expect so much of the outcome to be truly dependent on my actions. I think sometimes people go in to physical therapy with the mentality that they are going to be “fixed” without assuming any of the responsibility. I knew there would be homework involved, but the extent of my part in the plan surprised me—in a good way. It made me realize that I am responsible for my outcome. As a competitive person, I enjoyed being challenged during my sessions, but knew I had to do my part on my own time. The support that was provided to me was outstanding, and I tried hard to be a good patient.

OPTA Team: What advice would you share with others about the benefits of physical therapy?

Victoria: It can change your life. You must do YOUR part to obtain your desired outcome, but you can certainly achieve your goals. My surgeon told me I if I did what I was supposed to do, I would be up and running in six months. I was running at four months. Can I be ridiculous in my expectations of myself? Maybe. But I like it that way.