physical-therapy-helps-with-graft-vs.-host-disease

Build muscle and more with Physical Therapy

Remember that Stretch Goal of hiking the Cherokee Trail @ Stone Mountain on November 11? Well, I did hike 2.4 miles of the total 5 miles, and I personally was fine with that. A month ago, I realized hiking 5 miles was really a stretch, and something I probably wouldn’t be able to accomplish despite my best efforts. But for the first time in my life, I was okay with doing something halfway (gasp!).
During the summer months, I started preparing for the hike and hired a personal trainer

PT-to-treat-graft-vs.-host-disease_GVHD

thinking that would help with the muscle weakness and pain I was having in my legs. I’m sure it would have been an effective plan in normal, healthy individuals but I was not normal (no snickering please). I read that physical therapy was instrumental in preventing further muscle deterioration and in strengthening what little muscle mass remained after 2 rounds of chemotherapy and stem cell transplant. So, I requested my primary care doctor order physical therapy (PT) for me.

Fast forward 1 month after starting PT with Physiotherapy Associates in Decatur, and here I am meeting half of my stretch goal on the Cherokee Trail. I could not have done it without the help of my physical therapist Jake Raymond, and Kevin and Claire @ Physiotherapy Associates Decatur. My nicknames for Jake is ‘Mr. Tuffy’, Claire is ‘Ms. DirecTOR’, and “Meanie” for Kevin. The nicknames, of course, are in jest. They are kind and work you hard. And that is a sign of a good Physical Therapist. The first few sessions had me feeling sad because of how difficult simple exercises were for me, but that soon passed. It’s important to these Physical Therapists that you reach your potential and live your best possible life by bettering yourself physically. That in turn, affects your emotional state in a positive way.

physical-therapy-helps-with-graft-vs.-host-disease
L to R: Kevin Hurley PT, DPT, CMTPT; Claire Layman PT, DPT; Jake Raymond PT, DPT (my physical therapist)
Cherokee-Trail-Stone-Mountain-GA
hiked 2.4 of 5 miles on the Cherokee Trail, Stone Mountain, GA. Nov 11, 2018
Cherokee-trail-Stone-Mountain, GA
view from Cherokee Trail, Stone Mountain, GA. Nov 11, 2018

Physical therapy benefits everyone needing strengthening and pain relief due to prolonged hospitalization, acute injuries, chronic illness, chemotherapy, general debilitation and more. All you have to do is ask your doctor for physical therapy.
For stem cell transplant patients, you may already be on immunosuppressant therapy, steroids as well as other medications to treat acute and chronic graft vs host disease. But don’t forget to ask your transplant team and/or primary care physician to order physical therapy for weakness, pain or both in muscles and joints. Take charge and be your own best patient advocate. I see a noticeable difference in my stamina, have less pain, stronger limbs as well as improved mood. Now, get moving!!
Sources:

Read this pdf: Physical rehab on musculoskeletal, neurologic & cardiopulmonary gvhd_2015

Screening Muscles, Fascia, Joints for Chronic GVHD at BeTheMatch.org https://bethematchclinical.org/post-transplant-care/chronic-gvhd/muscles,-fascia,-joints/

Blood and Marrow Transplant Group of Georgia (physician group) http://www.bmtga.com/?s=graft+versus+host+disease

Muscle Cramps and Neuropathies in Patients with Allogeneic Hematopoietic Stem Cell Transplantation and Graft-versus-Host Disease https://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0044922

6 comments

  1. Awesome accomplished hiking half of the trail Marti! Physical therapy is key , like you said for so many issues. I just returned to PT a few weeks ago. Chronic neck and back problems can be greatly alleviated with the correct exercises.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’m glad you’re feeling better after your physical therapy sessions. Maybe we shouldn’t broadcast this so loudly so we can ready appointments whenever we need them -not!

      Like

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