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An Athlete with Spina Bifida Uses Physical Therapy to Keep Her Game in Check

An Athlete with Spina Bifida Uses Physical Therapy to Keep Her Game in Check

Susie Kluting has used a wheelchair or crutches to get around her entire life, but one could argue that she’s equally comfortable on the ice. Despite being born with spina bifida, 26 year old Coopersville resident Susie has never let that get in her way. Susie has tried wheelchair tennis, wheelchair basketball, swimming, fencing, water skiing, and rock climbing. While she’s always enjoyed being active, she longed for a sport that would really speak to her – that’s where sled hockey came in.

An Athlete with Spina Bifida Uses Physical Therapy to Keep Her Game in CheckSpina bifida left Susie with limited use of her legs, but she never let her “different ability” get her down. The second youngest of six children, Susie grew up on a farm and inherited a love for animals and cheering on her siblings at their various sporting events. While she loved the years she spent showing rabbits through 4-H, riding four-wheelers with her brothers, and farm life in general, she wanted to find something new that she could do with people who were “more like her.”

At a young age Susie began trying a variety of different clinics and playing sports through Mary Free Bed. Although she tried many different sports and continued to attend sports camp every summer until she was 18, Sled Hockey is the one she excels in.

Sled hockey was invented in the early 1960s by a group of Swedes at a rehabilitation center who, despite their physical disabilities, wanted to continue playing hockey. Sled hockey follows most standard ice hockey rules, except players sit in specially designed sleds that sit on top of two hockey skate blades. Each player has two sticks which are used to hit the puck and to propel themselves.

An Athlete with Spina Bifida Uses Physical Therapy to Keep Her Game in Check

Northern Physical Therapy has been a big part of my recovery from all sports injuries, and they’ve helped tremendously in allowing me to maintain my ability for the past 8 years. I love the team at Northern! They’re so helpful, friendly and always happy to answer any questions I have. Northern PT has helped my independence as a young adult and made it possible for me to do daily tasks at home, take care of myself, enjoy activities with my family, and compete in team sports – for this I am so grateful. – Susie Kluting, physical therapy patient living with spina bifida

For the last six years Susie has been the Assistant Captain for the adult Grand Rapids Sled Wings, which was formed because of the high level of interest from players who were over 18, which is the age limit for the junior league. She has also been a part of the U.S.A women’s sled hockey team. Susie can even thank sled hockey for introducing her to her boyfriend Connor. They met in 2010 at a sled hockey camp in Rochester, N.Y. and have been dating since 2017.

An Athlete with Spina Bifida Uses Physical Therapy to Keep Her Game in CheckBecause Susie is living a majority of her life in a wheelchair, and is also someone who is very active, she understands that injury is always a possibility. To keep her game in check, and to maintain her level of daily activity, Susie regularly receives physical therapy treatments, even during her off season.

An Athlete with Spina Bifida Uses Physical Therapy to Keep Her Game in CheckHow can physical therapy help With spina bifida?
Physical therapy plays an important role in helping children and adults with spina bifida gain and maintain mobility, and function at their best throughout all stages of life. Spina bifida is a birth defect involving the spine that occurs when a baby’s “neural tube,” or fetal spinal cord, does not completely close in the early stages of development during the first month of a mother’s pregnancy.

Spina bifida may cause both physical and intellectual disabilities that range from mild to severe, depending on the size and location of the opening in the spine, and the extent to which the spinal cord and nerves are affected. Babies born with spina bifida often cannot move their legs due to weakness or paralysis resulting from spinal cord and nerve damage.

People living with spina bifida can experience partial or complete paralysis and may need assistive devices like braces, wheelchairs, or crutches. These people work with physical therapists to learn specific muscle strengthening exercises.

We can help
A spina bifida diagnosis can leave parents with many questions and concerns. If you’ve wondered how physical therapy can help you or your child, schedule a free consultation with one of our therapists. We’ll conduct an evaluation and talk about the different treatment opportunities available.

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An Athlete with Spina Bifida Uses Physical Therapy to Keep Her Game in Check

A Young Athlete Turns to Physical Therapy to Treat Pain

When you’re 13 years old and all you want to do is play basketball, it’s tough to sit on the sidelines because of pain. Grady understood this feeling all too well. The pain he felt in his knee, both during and after physical activities, kept him from running and playing basketball. An all-around athlete, and typical kid, the last thing Grady wanted was to sit out due to adolescent knee pain. That’s when he and his family turned to physical therapy.

“When Terri tested my muscle strength I was very surprised at how weak I was,” said Grady. “She explained why my hip and stomach muscles were important to my overall physical abilities and said that if we worked hard together, I could get even better at my sport because I would have more control of my body.”

Grady Before

Grady performed a set of exercises before his physical therapy treatment began. Adolescent knee pain is evident – throughout the exercises his knee is positioned poorly, bows inward, and collapses.

Grady was determined to get better, so together, he and Terri worked consistently on a personalized set of exercises to help strengthen his whole body, with the ultimate goal of strengthening his knees to prevent further pain and injury.

“Grady was such a trooper,” said Terri. “He knew he had pain and did the exercises I asked him to do to get better – even planks, which were his least favorite exercise of all!”

As a strong an dedicated athlete, Grady was anxious to get back to playing basketball, football, and running. Once his physical therapy treatments were complete, we compared his before and after videos and saw  an improvement in his body awareness, coordination and neuromuscular control which will allow him to be a safer athlete.

Upon completing his physical therapy treatments, Grady showed improvement in his strength, coordination, and endurance.

In Grady’s case, physical therapy was an excellent treatment choice to relieve his adolescent knee pain. After just a few weeks of physical therapy treatments he was back to playing the sports that he loves, running around, and enjoying all the perks of being a kid.

At some point in our lives, we all experience unexplained pain. Typically caused by a weakness or imbalance in the muscles, these types of issues can often be successfully treated with physical therapy. If you’re repeatedly feeling pain while running, exercising, or moving in general, consider giving physical therapy a try. We even offer free consultations where you can sit down and talk with a physical therapist, one-on-one, to see if physical therapy is the right choice for you.

 

To learn more about how physical therapists treat adolescent knee pain, click here.

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A Young Athlete Turns to Physical Therapy to Treat Pain

My Physical Therapist Does That??

Many people visit a physical therapist because they recently had surgery or have a nagging pain they want to get rid of. What most people don’t know is that physical therapists are highly-trained to treat a wide variety of conditions. Here are a few things that may make you say, “I didn’t know my PT did that!”

My Physical Therapist Does That??Headaches
Some headaches are frequent and recurring while others come on just by turning your head the wrong way. Either way, they can make it difficult to get through the day. Oftentimes headaches originate from the musculoskeletal system and the good news is that headaches can be treated with physical therapy. To learn more about how physical therapy can treat headaches, click here.

Dizziness and Vertigo
Vertigo is a common condition that creates the sensation of being unbalanced. Vertigo is not a specific disease but rather a symptom that results from an issue in the inner ear or brain. Oftentimes, people experiencing vertigo suffer brief episodes of mild to intense dizziness. What you may not know is that many instances of vertigo can be treated and eliminated in as little as one visit with your physical therapist. Learn more about vertigo here.

Jaw Pain or TMJ
Temporomandibular joint and jaw disorders often result in popping or pain in and around the mouth and jaw. Popping in your joint is not normal, it’s actually a sign of the protective disc being displaced prior to the lower jaw sliding forward. This could be a sign that the muscles that control the joint are in constant tension  with the joint. The popping may cause head, neck and back aches that you may not have associated with your jaw. Learn more about TMJ treatment here.

Pelvic Health
Pelvic issues don’t discriminate. Teens and men may feel unexplained pain in the hips or low back, new moms might experience urinary leakage, or menopause might bring on pain in the pelvic region. Often misdiagnosed, the pain can go on for years, but there is a way to treat these conditions, learn how.

Concussions
Concussions are defined as a traumatic brain injury that results in disrupted brain function. Symptoms can include headache, dizziness and cognitive difficulties. The CDC has shown that 5-10% of athletes will experience a concussion in any given sport season. A physical therapist plays a valuable role in the treatment of concussions because equilibrium, the vestibular system, the central nervous system, and the visual system are affected. Learn more about how physical therapy can treat concussions here.

Bladder Health
If you’re experiencing bladder leakage, frequent urination, constipation, or pelvic pain, you’re not alone. Bladder issues are common, but that doesn’t mean they’re normal. Childbirth and getting older can be contributing factors, but the symptoms are often correctable or manageable through education, exercise and physical therapy. Learn more about how physical therapy helps with bladder issues.

Running Analysis / Running Pain
When our feet strike the ground it sends a force through our bodies. The impact to the musculoskeletal system can result in wear and tear of the joints, muscles, and ligaments and contribute to injury development while causing pain in already tender areas. We offer a running/Gait Analysis program that caters to anyone who wants to improve their running performance. This doesn’t just apply to athletes and lifelong runners looking to improve their personal records or run longer distances. Patients who suffer from lower extremity injuries such as knee, leg, hip, ankle or foot pain can benefit, as well. Learn more about our running and gait analysis program here.

What Next?
Do any of these conditions apply to you? If you’re dealing with jaw pain, running pain, concussions, headaches, vertigo or dizziness, we offer free consultations at all of our locations. There’s no reason to live with pain any longer, schedule your appointment today!

 

We have multiple physical therapy clinics throughout west Michigan, there’s always one close to you!  We’re helping patients who are dealing with vestibular issues, running pain, concussions, physical therapy, vertigo, and TMJ.

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My Physical Therapist Does That??