Recovering from injury is a long journey, even for physiotherapists. The following is an excerpt written by a physiotherapy student, sharing her story of recovery following a traumatic injury to her leg. She shares realistic and tangible tips and strategies to help those who may be going through their own rehabilitation process.
“What was supposed to be a fun day of tobogganing ended up being a day I’ll never forget. I had an accident that resulted in multiple injuries, multiple surgeries and months of recovery. During my rehabilitation process, my physiotherapists helped me regain my functional independence to achieve my end goal of walking. Their dedication and patience enabled me to get back on my feet. My experience allowed me to gain first-hand experience of the impact of physiotherapy. I saw how it provided people with a sense of hope and control over their situation, not allowing pain, injury, or illness to take power over them. Recovery can be filled with frustration, isolation, anger, fear, and other challenging emotions that are difficult to navigate. Here are some tips that worked for me:
One of the most important tips for myself was to validate my emotions and feelings. Learning that the feelings I was experiencing were normal, among those who experience injuries, allowed me to be more accepting of my situation rather than constantly being angry and wondering “why me?”.
During recovery, there were many activities that I couldn’t do. At times, more effort did not always lead to better results. To overcome this frustration, I had to focus on other activities that I was able to do. For example, exercise and strength training was an important part of my routine and after my injury I was unable to participate in exercise the same way.
Instead of dwelling on what I couldn’t do at the moment, I focused on what I could do. My upper limbs were spared from injury, so I was able to perform upper body exercises in the seated position.
Following my injury, I was told I would be better in 6-8 weeks. Needless to say, at 6 weeks, I was not as far along in my recovery process as I had hoped for. I changed my perspective and let go of the timelines that had been set by doctors, physiotherapists and myself. I gave myself freedom from timelines and focused on returning to function, regardless of how long it took. It was very helpful to physically write down the goals on paper or on my phone to get
the satisfaction of checking it off a list of accomplishments”.
Injury recovery is not easy, however, having practical strategies to manage the mental hurdles can help to ease distress and frustration. If you are having difficulty with your mental or emotional health during your recovery, please reach out to a trained mental health provider for support and guidance.