30 Days of MD: A Physical Therapist’s Perspective

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by BNS Staff |

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Photo courtesy of Johanna Murrell

Day 3 of 30

This is Johanna Murrell’s story:

My name is Johanna Murrell, and I’m a physical therapist. My major area of expertise is geriatrics and Parkinson’s disease, but I recently had the pleasure of working with someone who has facioscapulohumeral muscular dystrophy.

I’m embarrassed to say that while I’d learned about muscular dystrophy in PT school, I had to look up information on how to be helpful to this person. I found a lot of “don’t do strenuous exercise” and “cramping indicates that exercise should stop.” There was not a lot of information on what I could do as a physical therapist.  

Reading through previous posts from the 30 Days of MD series, I realized that I’m part of the target audience for a campaign like this. I’m one of those health care providers who scratched their heads and said, “hmmm, what do we do now?

Most physical therapists really do want to help, and we will ask you what you need. We will research. We will find an expert. With MD, therapy interventions are more about teamwork than they are about teacher and pupil endeavors. Each person with MD has such different needs that there is no protocol for exactly what’s right, no matter how much we read or look at data.

To me, the most important part of my job is helping people do things they want to do. Do you want to pump iron? Great. Let’s figure out how to do it. Do you want to play the flute? Cool. We can find a way. The solution we figure out will be an adventure for us both!

Muscular Dystrophy News’ 30 Days of MD campaign will publish one story per day for MD Awareness Month in September. Follow us on Facebook and Instagram for more stories like this, using the hashtag #30DaysofMD, or read the full series.