Unfreezing the Shoulder

The “Year of Living Gingerly” has ended for me – thanks in part to Meryl Goldstein, Erin, Mark and Rachel at Excel Physical Therapy in Cherry Hill.

I’m not a whiner, but it really annoys me that my body just can’t keep up with my mind these days. The pains of 2011 are fading away. I hope for a much healthier 2012.

During May & June, Excel’s former therapist, Jeff, coached my through PT following a total right hip replacement at the age of 52. I came through that with flying colors thanks to all of the exercises and therapy Jeff and the staff gave me during that period. Plus, it always helps to be vigilant with therapy even when you are not at the Excel office.

By fall, the more painful of my afflictions, “frozen shoulder” brought me back to Excel. After my orthopedist prescribed therapy, Meryl explained the phases of frozen shoulder – freezing, frozen and thawing. To some degree, I was fortunate since my left shoulder was not completely frozen. The learning curve on solving this problem was painful and I had to again be vigilant in my therapy sessions and exercising outside of therapy to bring my left shoulder back to health.

Twice a week for just over two months, I arrived at PT to experience what I affectionately called “Torture by Meryl.” Erin or Mark would oversee my slate of exercises, and then Meryl’s magical hands and fingers would dig into every part of my upper arm, shoulder and back to get everything moving. That’s when the pain was sometimes blinding. The “cracks” and “pops” from inside my left shoulder and back were sometimes frightening. What was at times worse, knowing how hard Meryl was working on me and that it hurt her as much as it hurt me.

All this was for the greater good. I was released by my doctor exactly two months after I was first seen by him and ended physical therapy a few days later. Meryl says my shoulder is extremely functional; I have regained a lot of strength and mobility. I will continue my exercises and will faithfully follow the stretching and strengthening sketches on the Excel sheets Meryl & Erin supplied.

What Meryl and the staff do for the patients is amazing. They expertly assess each person and compassionately work with each person encouraging them on even just a speck of improvement. I hope I don’t have to see Meryl ever again – and I say that with great affection. If I do need therapy again, I will return to Team Meryl.

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