Talking to several patients at Innovative Rehab Solutions in Valdosta is a humbling experience. Speaking with individuals who are working hard to overcome physical and medical issues could easily be overwhelming, but when they have tremendous spirits and positive attitudes, it’s also uplifting and inspiring.
Bikram Mohanty, occupational therapist, and Office Manager Pam Jones walked us through some of the therapies offered but otherwise, stayed in the background and let their patients tell the story.
Recovering from paralysis
For Laurie Miller, Innovative Rehab is a lifeline back to a normal life. On Nov. 30, 2010, Miller developed symptoms of severe Transverse Myelitis. In four hours, she was paralyzed from the middle of her back down. In Tifton at the time, she sought medical treatment immediately and was diagnosed quickly, with steroid therapy helping her to regain movement.
Transverse Myelitis is an inflammation around the spinal cord which damages nerve fibers. Causes range from viral infections to complications of a disease or even a vaccination, but in a number of cases, there is no known cause. These cases are called idiopathic, which is what Miller is experiencing.
“One third of patients have no recovery at all, one third have a partial recovery, and one third have a complete recovery,” said Miller, who is still undergoing treatment three years later.
After undergoing treatment at several facilities, she moved to Valdosta and found Mohanty. She immediatley felt at home, and began therapy which included using the underwater treadmill.
“It works just like a treadmill but you have the pull of the water, so it’s much gentler but more effective. You can set the speed, time and resistance, and I work out with wieghts in the water, too,” she said.
Miller also undergoes CST, or cranial sacral therapy, with Mohanty.
“It’s a type of massage, except he (Mohanty) barely touches me. The touch is so gentle you can hardly feel it. It helps to balance your systems by gently manipulating the body’s pulse points, and it makes me feel totally relaxed,” she said.
Mohanty said that CST not only can help heal the body, it can also help to build immunity and be used as a preventive tool.
“For example, if a patient has had a mini-stroke, the therapy can help to prevent the chances of having another stroke,” he said.
Although Miller has made significant strides in her recovery process, she has a long road ahead. She has a loss of feelng in her legs. She can walk, but recently walked into an ant bed and had no idea that she’d been bitten until hours later, and by then, the bites were becoming infected. She has problems with balance, but after working with Innovative Rehab, she says she falls less than she used to and can catch herself now.
The main issue for Miller in her recovery was getting to scuba dive again.
“I went to Key West and I dove!” she said. “I dive shipwrecks and it was wonderful to get back to it.”