Loni: These Caring People Changed My Life
At 58 and before becoming ill, Loni Gephart’s life was filled with exercise for her mind and body. She took college courses out of interest rather than necessity and her routine exercise program varied between aerobics, step aerobics, kick boxing and walking. In July of 2015 that changed when she developed a very nasty respiratory infection. The coughing got so bad in October that one day she woke up and couldn’t get out of bed.
“The pain was excruciating and I walked bent over for days,” recalled Loni. “The doctor sent me for an MRI which was difficult since I couldn’t lie down, I could only stand for ten minutes and the twenty minutes they needed to do the test in a sitting position was so very hard.”
The MRI tests revealed degenerative disk disease with disk protrusions of T10 through S1. The doctor recommended immediate surgery but also gave her a prescription for physical therapy, recommending Physical Therapy Care and Aquatic Rehab of Fort Bend.
Choosing Her Strategy
Understanding the stakes Loni explained, “At that point I started listening to God’s voice and decided to exhaust all other avenues before I resorted to surgery. I believed that by working with physical therapists I’d get better and so I began to investigate and research.”
“I pulled on every resource to help me get better. I was doing physical therapy, massages and even acupuncture. My goal was to regain my health and I was pursuing all avenues to regain my physical abilities.”
Her active lifestyle kept her young but on her first visit for physical therapy Loni showed up in a wheelchair and needed help to move to the examining table. “I felt so old arriving in a wheelchair on that first day, more like I was 85 instead of 58.”
Working Toward Recovery
The therapy program began with pain control and stretches to increase flexibility and although the process was slow, her willingness to try something new and her feedback allowed her therapists to create a dynamic therapy program tailored for her.
“She was using a wheelchair mainly to avoid pain,” explained Laura Thomas Cousar, one of the therapists on Loni’s team. “Her left leg was buckling which was part of the problem, and she had fallen a few times. We focused on her stability and her core since that is the key to stabilizing the body and reducing back pain. As she progressed in the sixteen weeks here, she graduated to a walker and soon after was walking.”
“Now I take walks with my dog and can walk for more than a block,” added Loni. “Physical Therapy can do amazing things but you must remember that it is a shared effort: you have to apply yourself, communicate and be highly determined. Regaining my ability to walk was a real challenge but I had a big team helping me.”