Physical Therapy Services in the Home Helps Patients Reach Their Personal Goals
October 31, 2022
Most summers, Thom Perkins can be found on his sailboat off the coast of Maine. But in 2022, his sailing plans were in peril after breaking his tibia skiing at Cranmore in March, followed by back surgery in May. Suddenly, dreams of an active summer were taking a back seat to getting back on his feet. But thanks to the support, education and treatment provided by a team of physical therapists from Visiting Nurse Home Care and Hospice, Perkins enjoyed 70 days on his sailboat last summer. He is now planning his biggest ocean voyage yet – sailing from Mediterranean Spain to the Canary Islands this December.
While most people know that visiting nurse agencies like VNHCH provide nursing care, many may not realize they also offer rehabilitative services. In fact, VNHCH therapists help patients recovering from accidents, joint replacements and surgeries. VNHCH’s rehabilitative team consists of physical therapists, physical therapy assistants, occupational therapists and speech therapists. They spend their days helping improve other people’s lives. They provide help and hope to all ages and all manner of injury. From musculoskeletal issues to joint pain, and stroke – they’re the cheerleaders for recovery. Therapists help patients identify their goals and then work with them to reach them. In Thom’s case, a return to sailing was goal #1.
Thom received physical therapy services at his home in Center Conway after breaking his leg skiing. Like many patients, Thom was discharged on crutches without receiving much education on how to safely ambulate around the home. Thom explained, “The physical therapist ensured my crutches were the right height. He spent time showing me how to get around the house and safely get up and down the stairs which was a real challenge.”
For proper healing, Thom was told by his orthopedist that no weight could be put on the broken leg for 8 weeks. In order to keep his strength up during the healing process, Thom received physical therapy in the home 1-2 times per week, working on various exercises to improve mobility and range of motion. After the cast came off, he was discharged from home care and began outpatient physical therapy at Memorial Hospital.
Thom had begun pre-season preparations on his boat when a second injury sidelined his sailing plans. He was beginning to feel extreme weakness in his legs – a symptom of cauda equina syndrome, a condition that can have serious repercussions if not quickly treated. That diagnosis was immediately followed by back surgery by a neurosurgeon at Maine Medical Center.
Once again, Thom found himself in need of rehabilitative services in the home. Thankfully, Maine Medical Center made the referral to VNHCH for physical therapy services. Thom received therapy to help him learn how to safely move and perform daily living activities on his own while healing from back surgery. Their exercises focused on strength and balance while also protecting the spine.
After this stint of in-home rehabilitation, Thom again “graduated” to outpatient physical therapy at Memorial Hospital. He continues to receive therapy to improve strength and balance. He is working hard to regain full use of the nerves impacted by the back injury. It’s been a long slow process, but one that has shown progress slowly but surely over the weeks and months thanks to the knowledge and dedication of physical therapists.
Summer 2022 found Perkins back on his 37’ Pacific Seacraft sailboat traveling from its home port of Rockland, Maine as far north as New Brunswick, Canada. Now he is preparing for his biggest adventure of all – traveling as part of a crew delivering a 50’ yacht from Malaga, Spain to the Canary Islands off the coast of Africa. After months of physical therapy, personal determination and hours at the gym, Thom feels ready for the trip of a lifetime. “Just knowing that these experts are out there and that it’s easy to get help is comforting. The support I received from VNHCH was a big help in getting outdoors and getting back on the water.”
Thom wants others to know how easy it was to get services from VNHCH. He requested a referral to the agency from both medical providers for his two injuries – the orthopedist and Maine Medical Center. He also called VNHCH directly with questions at 603-356-7006. Most services are covered by insurance or Medicare.
Every October is National Physical Therapy Month, an annual opportunity to raise awareness about the benefits of physical therapy. VNHCH offers physical therapy in the home for patients in Carroll County and Western Maine. For more information on physical therapy, contact them at 603-356-7006 or online at www.VNHCH.org.