31 Days of SMA: A Physical Therapist’s Perspective

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by Kevin Schaefer |

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Day 9 of 31 Days of SMA⁣⠀ Topic: Being a PT to a person with SMA⁣⠀ ⁣⠀ This is Emily’s Story ⁣⠀ ⁣⠀ In PTA school, I didn’t learn much, if anything, about SMA. When Michael called to ask if we could treat him at our location, we had to research what SMA was and how we were going to treat him at our outpatient location with minimal equipment. Although I was never nervous to work with Michael, I had no clue what to do with him. It was honestly trial and error, assess to find deficits and treat from there. Even now that we have been working together for over a year, it is still constant reassessment and try different things to see what works and helps him progress and become more comfortable and independent within realistic expectations. ⁣⠀ ⁣⠀ From the beginning we wanted to transfer him to a table to work on seated balance and be able to stretch out his legs. It took a while for him to build up enough trust to let us transfer him and sit unsupported on a table. He is a complete dependent x 2 transfer on a slide board, so it is understandable that this takes trust, considering he uses a sling at home to transfer. He has absolutely no control over the transfer and has to completely rely on us to safely transfer him and make sure he keeps his balance while sitting unsupported. ⁣⠀ ⁣⠀ I have learned many things about SMA while working with Michael. He has taught me to not fear the unknown and that although he has limitations, he can be pushed just like any other patient. He has made me more confident and overall a better therapist. I have really enjoyed working with him and seeing his progress. He has much more confidence descending ramps with more head, neck, and trunk control. He has a lot of degeneration in one of his hips and was having a lot of pain. With stretching out his leg, hips, and ankles he has had a significant amount of less pain. ⁣⠀ If another patient with SMA patient needed therapy, I would be willing to treat them using the skills and knowledge I have gained working with Michael.

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