Thursday 27 September 2012

Recovery and rehabilitation

When I was discharged from hospital; 11 days after crashing at Ironman 70.3 Ireland and breaking my collar-bone, having had a titanium plate and 8 screws put in to pull the bits together, make it all straight and help it to heal properly; I was given some exercises to do (by the hospital physio specialising in orthopaedics) and told "NO RESISTANCE OR LIFTING AT ALL for 8 weeks AND when full ROM regained" (by the orthopaedic surgeon).  I felt a bit stiff and hadn't really tried to do anything with that arm since the crash - it was just natural not to even try.  I didn't realise quite how reduced the range of movement (ROM) was until I tried to do a few simple things.

I couldn't lift my arm more than an inch from hanging without assistance.  I couldn't shrug my shoulder at all. I couldn't grip anything with my left hand.  I couldn't move my arm sideways from my body at all.  I didn't even try moving it backwards.  So, getting dressed, putting my hair into a pony-tail, washing large bits of my back and my right arm and shoulder; none of that was possible.  But I'm a really good girl when it comes to doing as I'm told for my own good with these things.  Religiously, every day, 3 times a day, I did my exercises; pendulum swings of the arm in circles, raising my arm straight out in front of me (initially with the assistance of my right hand), crossing my arm in front of my body to touch my right shoulder and back out straight at shoulder height (initially with assistance from my right hand).  And on the 8th day, I could just about put my hair into a wonky pony-tail at the nape of my neck.  On the 9th day, a straight one actually in the middle of the nape of my neck.  Then on the 11th day, I managed a pony-tail at the usual height on my head and rolled deodorant under my right armpit with my left hand!

Honestly, it's the little things... and it's not a lack of lifting power that is the hard thing (I don't think that's dropped much at all, but I have no idea as I'm not allowed to even try) it's the shocking lack of range of movement/general mobility that you really don't expect with this particular injury.  Though it is coming back quickly.  The surgeon seemed to imply that I may have it all back 8 weeks after surgery, I am confident it'll be back before then once I've got cracking with my normal physiotherapist.

Off to trauma and orthopaedics this morning for a check up and hopefully get the stitches out.  I'll ask about hydrotherapy, using a spin bike and whether/when I can start running again and see what they say.  Then it's physio at the end of the day with the protocol from the surgeon, to get started with him on increasing ROM (and after the 8 weeks is up, start on strength as well).

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