10 Incredibly Unlikely & Inspirational Physical Therapy Stories

One of the most rewarding things about being a nurse is the opportunity to witness every day miracles. Injuries and problems from birth can make some physical activities difficult. However, with proper rehabilitation, it is possible to make amazing strides. Physical therapy can allow affected persons the chance to learn the skills they need. Nurses are often called upon to help in these areas, and it is possible for them to see amazing changes in the abilities of patients. Here are 10 physical therapy stories that provide inspiration:

  1. T.S. Bolton: One of the most devastating diseases out there is Necrotizing Fasciitis, a disease most commonly known as “flesh eating bacteria.” This disease is quite difficult to deal with, since it progresses rapidly, and results in a great deal of pain and unpleasantness. T.S. Bolton ended up having his leg amputated, and he lost the ability to use the bathroom unaided, or even feed himself. However, instead of giving up, Bolton had the help of dedicated physical therapists who provided him with encouragement. He was able to re-learn many things, and he can do more now than many thought he would be able to accomplish.
  2. Mr. J: An elderly man, Mr. J was starting to fall apart. Obese and in a wheelchair, it was a supreme effort for caring health care staff to transfer him to the dialysis table that he was used to for 12 years. He was depressed, and becoming frustrated with life. It seemed as though the man in his 60s would likely just give up. However, he was offered a personalized physical therapy program that included exercise and functional training. Mr. J eventually went from being able to feel very little in his legs to being able to walk into his kidney center for dialysis.
  3. Maja Kazazic: Maja Kazazic grew up in Bosnia-Herzegovina, and during the Bosnian war, she was injured by an exploding shell; her friends died. Kazazic had been an athlete, and now her body was riddled with shrapnel, and her leg had to amputated. She was evacuated to the U.S., and she attended high school in a wheelchair with an IV hookup. It looked as though she would never walk again, much less participate in sports. However, inspired by a dolphin with no tail, Kazazic learned to walk with a prosthetic leg, and continues her love of sports.
  4. Kyra Stimson: There are a number of genetic conditions that affect children, and can lead to severe developmental problems. One of these is Angelman Syndrome. This syndrome was first diagnosed in the 1980s in the U.S., and it features severe development delays that can affect function. However, Kyra Stimson, who is now age 5, is doing more than many thought she could with this syndrome. Her specific physical and occupational therapy regimen has helped her to be able to advance developmentally (although she will always have special needs), and inspire others with her story. She is able to communicate more than expected, and is improving further.
  5. Esther Cahal: A strange complication due to her treatment for tongue cancer left Esther Cahal unable to open her mouth. Eating required a special feeding tube. In addition to being unable to open her mouth, the therapy reduced her sense of taste. However, physical therapy has helped her be able to open her mouth, and even begin eating some foods. And tongue massages may eventually help her regain some of her former sense of taste. This shows strong determination from someone who thought she might not be able to eat again.
  6. Schneily Similien: At the time of Haiti’s well publicized earthquake in early 2010, Schneily Similien had his leg crushed by the collapse of his home. His foot and leg were amputated. He was outfitted with an artificial and is learning to walk again. The boy is only four, though, and the challenge is helping his prosthetic keep up with his growth. So far, though, the family has received help. So far, he is growing mostly normally, in spite of concerns that he would not be able to progress as a boy his age should.
  7. Michael Hulshouser: One of the most debilitating diseases out there is Guillain-BarrĂ© syndrome. It affects the peripheral nervous system, and usually results in paralysis. Michael Hulshouser was made quadriplegic by the syndrome, and was unlikely to walk again. However, he was determined to grant his son’s Christmas wish that Hulshouser would walk again. After hard work and dedicated physical therapy, he is now able to walk on his own. He needs a walker, but he doesn’t need the wheelchair anymore.
  8. Reggie Thomas: When Reggie Thomas lost his job, he and his son had to live in a shelter. However, Thomas looked for a job, and did what he could. Then he had a stroke. The stroke partially paralyzed him, and left him unable to speak. It seemed as though he would be unable to care for his son. However, Thomas’ determination is carrying the day. With the help of physical therapy, Thomas is recovering. He can speak and has learned to walk with a cane. He is considering moving so that he can start fresh. And it appears that he will be able to take care of his son after all.
  9. Alicia Parlette: As a young woman, Alicia Parlette was diagnosed with a sarcoma on her hip. This type of problem often results in permanent damage to the ability to walk, resulting in a limp. Additionally, the pain often requires some strong, narcotic medication. However, Parlette manages her pain differently, without those chemicals. Additionally, the exercises she has been given are providing her strength, and she does not walk with a limp. Her physical therapist used a novel approach that does not rely on drugs.
  10. Rich Dixon: After falling from a roof in 1987, Rich Dixon became unhappy and intractable. He was in a wheelchair, unable to walk. Instead of working hard to overcome his issues, he made slow progress, since he complained incessantly. However, he met one physical therapist who taught him the joy of living again, even though he is still in a wheelchair, his new outlook on life has provided him with the ability to live meaningfully, rather than in bitterness.