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ask: Physical Therapy after full ankle fusion?

By jessicaleigh
 
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Hello! I had a full ankle fusion in April of 2010. I had it because I was in a head-on collision in 2001 that shattered my ankle and the arthritis had become so bad I could barely walk at all. I had to be out of work so much due to pain and doctor's appointments, and three days after my surgery my teaching position was ended. It is now September, and I am in physical therapy. I live in a small town, and I don't think my local physical therapy place knows much (or any) about ankle fusion. For many appointments, they have tried to move my ankle or get me to do things that are impossible to do. I do enjoy my pool therapy appointments, because I love being able to freely move in the water. I have gained so much weight since my first accident, because it is so hard for me to move around and I get so tired of being in pain. The pain now is less, but I feel like I'll never be able to work or get around ever again. I am on short-term disability and paying for COBRA, but it is so hard to pay the bills and keep going. I feel so lost sometimes and very depressed. I saw there were others who had this surgery, but the posts are old so I was wondering if anyone was still on here. I have considered looking for a new physical therapist in a neighboring town, what do you think? If you had ankle fusion surgery, did you go to physical therapy? What sorts of things did you do? I know it would help me if I could lose weight and get some weight off this ankle, but I have a hard time staying active. Any advice?

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Pat Elliott HERWriter Guide

jessicaleigh - I believe I have already answered your question on an ankle fusion thread, which I saw before seeing you had posted your question here. Here's what I said:

Anon - It must be frustrating dealing with all those issues! If I understand you correctly you're saying that your physical therapists don't understand your needs and are not treating your appropriately. That's not acceptable, no matter what size community you live in. There are all kinds of resources that physical therapists can go to for specific information about different types of cases. To not seek the right protocol is malpractice.

Here are some options to consider:
1) Ask to meet with the director of physical therapy for the practice you are visiting to discuss and resolve your problems.
2) Contact your insurance company and ask for a case manager to assist you in getting the care you need.
3) Ask your doctor if he can assist you and provide specific orders for your care.
4) Contact the American Physical Therapy Association and ask them for assistance. http://www.apta.org/
5) Change to another PT practice.

You've been through a lot with your ankle fusion, and now it's time to heal. If you are not getting the support you need to heal then you are at risk for further injury, a lengthened recovery period and other problems. As discouraged as you feel right now you need to muster up the strength and courage to stand up (so to speak) for yourself right now, so you will be able to literally stand up for yourself down the road.

Please stay in touch, and let us know what you decide to do. We wish you the very best!
Pat

September 15, 2010 - 5:46pm
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