Swimming away from a world of pain

With the support of one of Better Rehab’s Exercise Physiologists and a personalised, adaptable therapy program, Elise has made significant progress improving her mobility

Frustration. This is what Elise felt on a daily basis as she struggled with lower body pain and muscle weakness due to Friedreich’s ataxia. This progressive condition significantly affected her standing balance and walking, which led to frequent falls. Elise had to use a wheelchair just so she could be mobile with less pain. 

Building a trust-based relationship

Two years ago, Elise connected with Better Rehab Exercise Physiologist, Elyshia Hibbert, to work on her strength and stability. It wasn’t smooth sailing at first, especially with Elise also dealing with anxiety, depression, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). She would often cancel appointments – not just with Elyshia, but also with other clinicians who are part of her multidisciplinary therapy program. 

But as a born clinician (like all Better Rehabbers) with an innate desire to help others, and drawing on the support and training provided by Better Rehab, Elyshia kept working to develop rapport with Elise in order to be able to support her in achieving her goals.  

Elyshia prescribed various exercises to target Elise’s weaking muscles. This included seated boxing, which Elise thoroughly enjoyed. It helped her let out frustrations and made her feel confident enough to start to talk about the things that were on her mind. This gave Elyshia the opportunity to really connect with Elise and foster trust between the two of them. 

“I took advantage of this to develop a good working relationship with her, and I’m glad to say that we were able to build a really strong bond!” says Elyshia. 

Finding the right therapy approach

Elise generally preferred to complete the prescribed exercises at home because of her balance challenges. She’s unable to stand without holding onto her mum or boyfriend for more than a second, even when walking short distances within the home. To accommodate this, Elyshia adjusted the exercises so they can be completed on the bed or a chair due to pain.   

Elyshia also identified that Elise could benefit from hydrotherapy, to maintain as much strength and movement as possible. Elyshia also believed it would help Elise mentally as well as physically. And she was right! 

Elise has had one hydrotherapy session, in which she’s been able to complete a full 45-minute pool session without feeling any pain. This has been a huge win, considering her struggles to complete land-based exercises.   

“Seeing her so happy with a huge smile while in the pool made us all tear up in joy. It meant so much to her and her family,” added Elyshia. “She reported to her mum that she can’t wait for our next hydrotherapy session, which is so lovely to hear.” 

Want to learn more about Exercise Physiology at Better Rehab or any of our industry-leading multidisciplinary services? 

Email our friendly admin team at admin@betterrehab.com.au or call 1300 073 422 to book an appointment.

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