I am a competitive figure skater at the Senior level. I was just shy of making Nationals last year, and I hope to go to the Olympics someday. My right hip had been hurting during the 2014 season. In January of 2015, I found out that I had labral tears in both of my hips, and that I would need surgery if I wanted to skate pain free.
After the surgery, Dr. Ho recommended that I see Gina, as he had worked with her in developing the protocol for labral surgery rehab. I remember crutching into the Achieve building on my first day of therapy. I met Gina for the first time, but I had no idea how she and Achieve would become such a large part of my life.
At my first appointment, Gina could tell that my glutes were tight, so she dry-needled them to release them. This not only made my glutes feel better, but actually relieved pain in my hip. Since my first visit, there have been so many instances like this: Gina is always able to figure out what is causing your pain, even if it is something indirect, such as my spine being off. She does not just keep doing the same thing over and over, hoping it might work one day, as some PTs would; she knows a variety of different methods to relieve pain quickly.
Along with Gina, I am also working with two other PTs, Taylor and Abbey. Taylor had the same surgery as me, so when I describe my pain, she knows exactly what I am feeling, and what the cause is. Abbey is really perceptive, so if I am a little bit tighter on one side or the other, she can sense this, and release whichever side is tightening up. I am so grateful to have so many PTs able to work together to problem-solve; this is part of what makes Achieve Burr Ridge heal patients ASAPP (As Soon As Physically Possible).
Aside from manual therapy, patients get so much out of the exercises at Achieve. The assistants are so knowledgeable that they are always able to ensure the patients are performing the exercise correctly, ensure that they are strengthening the right muscles. They are always watching to make sure I am getting the benefit from the exercises. Achieve also has the optimal equipment for rehab. For example, they own an Alter-G treadmill, which assists the patient with walking by supporting part of his/her weight with an inflated bubble. This allowed me to walk when I was still on crutches, so that I could start activating the muscles I would need to walk, without putting too much weight on my hip. I have seen other patients, runners, itching to get back out running again. They can have the experience of running on the Alter-G, without damaging their joints.
Gina has developed special skating-specific exercises for me. I have definitely noticed these helping me on the ice. When I have a problem on the ice with an element, Gina always takes the time to listen, and to pick exercises for me that day that will help that particular element. Before I had my surgery, the doctors thought I would be out for the season. I still decided to go to Regionals this season, and even though it wasn’t perfect, I qualified for Sectionals. I am hoping to qualify for Nationals. I could have never made Sectionals without the strength and endurance acquired from PT at Achieve.
Achieve is not just a rehab place to get you back to normal life; it is a place for athletes, for people who want to achieve above and beyond. However, even if you are not an athlete, Achieve treats you like one. I have been to many other physical therapy places, where adults are given a certain number of basic exercises, then sent home, even if they still have pain. At Achieve, I see adults doing exercises normally for athletes. I saw someone who could have been my grandfather doing planks; this inspired me to remain active throughout my life.
My mother is also a patient at Achieve. She had shoulder surgery in December 2012. The PT she had ran out, but her shoulder was still in pain. It turns out that she had a different problem with her neck, that no one had diagnosed. The Achieve staff has been committed to relieving her neck pain, and figuring out what is wrong with it. I get teary eyed when I see my mom doing push-ups; not long ago, she could barely able to lift her arm. When I talk to her about it, she is so grateful that she is able to stay active and get her upper body stronger.
The Achieve staff members are not only my PTs; they are my friends. They always listen when I have a problem, and if I request something specific, such as dry needling, heat, or a specific exercise, they are happy to assist me. They acknowledge how I am feeling that day, not only what the protocol says.
Gina and the other PTs have been so supportive of me as a patient, but also as a figure skater and a human being. When there’s time, we often discuss my next skating competition, what we’re learning in school, or what I’m baking. I often hear the PTs discuss work with adults, dance recitals and gymnastics meets with children. This makes us comfortable, makes us feel welcome. It makes me want to come to physical therapy, motivates me to work hard. Achieve is a very special place indeed.