Physical therapy helps Knoxville woman resume activity after biking accident
There are no cars on the greenway trails in and around Knoxville. That’s why Julia Wood
always chose to ride her bike there. The only time she had to be on the road was at the occasional crosswalk. That’s the place she happened to be when she was hit by a car in March 2020.
With surgery followed by treatment at Covenant Health Therapy Center- West Knoxville, a department of Parkwest Medical Center, Wood has been able to move past the accident. But she still vividly remembers that moment in time.
A Broken Body
“The accident is still fresh in my mind,” says Wood, 60. “I landed face- down on the
pavement. The driver’s side front tire ran completely over my back, crushing me in the
Strangers came to the rescue, mobilizing to lift the car that was pressing down on her broken body. Her bicycle helmet lay on the ground, shattered in three pieces. Wood survived the accident, but came out of it with a lot of pain and disability. She had nine broken ribs, a collapsed lung, a lacerated spleen, broken pieces off the back of vertebrae in her spine, a deep gash on her back side, a broken wrist, a dislocated finger, a sprained ankle, numerous bruises and road rash. “I actually had tire track bruises across my back,” Wood says.
By the time she was able to go to her first physical therapy appointment, Wood’s back and ribs were still so sore that she had been sleeping upright in a recliner. Standing or sitting upright for any length of time was just too painful.
A plate and screws had been implanted in her hand. Wood couldn’t move her dislocated
finger, and mobility was limited in her wrist and hand because of surgery and loss of muscle mass. “With my injured left hand I couldn’t open a pill bottle, grasp or lift objects, turn door
handles or dress myself properly,” Wood says. “In fact, when the therapy center intake form asked me to assess how well I could do a number of tasks, I remember thinking that I couldn’t do any of them without great difficulty.”
Mark Conley, therapy center manager, physical therapist and certified hand therapist at Covenant Health Therapy Center – West Knoxville, treated all of Woods’ injuries, but focused more intently on her wrist and finger because that was the area with the most limitation.
“Injuries to the wrist, hand and fingers can be more complicated than many people may
realize,” Conley says. “There are many moving parts in such a small area.” Conley guided Wood through a variety of exercises to help loosen and stretch the ligaments while rebuilding muscle. The first exercises were simple movements, then she began to lift heavier weights and stretch with a resistance band.
“She had days when recalling the event caused her much emotional pain, but she never let up on her efforts and it ultimately paid off,” Conley says. “I am inspired by people like Julia, and it was a privilege to help her along the path to recovery.”
After multiple weeks of therapy and diligence with the exercises assigned for her to do at home, Wood began to be able to use her wrist and finger again. She also regained her spinal motion and core strength to get through the physical demands of a typical day.
“By the time I stopped therapy, the range of motion for my wrist was near normal, and I was able to use my finger and hand to nearly the level before my accident,” Wood says. “The muscles in my back had strengthened enough to allow me to sit and stand for longer periods, and I was finally able to sleep in my bed again.”
As brutal as the accident was, Wood only has some stiffness and “discomfort” to show for it. Her quality of life has been restored. “I am able to physically accomplish whatever I want. I can bike, hike and kayak as I did before the accident. I have no limitations,” she says. “I owe so much
of that to the therapy center. They helped me to regain my strength, ability and confidence.”
Safe and Effective Treatment
Physical therapy is the treatment or management of physical problems like disability and pain using drug-free, non-invasive means. Specially designed exercises, massage, aquatic therapy and other tools can help reverse damage, return function and restore quality of life. Covenant Health Therapy Center – West Knoxville offers individualized physical rehabilitation, including specialty services like rehabilitation for cancer patients and amputees, and treatment for dizziness and headaches.
Dry needling, an alternative to acupuncture, is available, along with Astym® treatment that reduces scar tissue. LSVT BIG and LOUD is used to treat patients whose speech and movement have been affected by Parkinson’s disease. The McKenzie Method can provide superior functional outcomes for the back, neck, arms and legs.
The center’s physical therapists also treat lymphedema, TMJ and address pelvic health for both men and women. Occupational therapy and speech therapy are offered as well.
These specialty services are in addition to the traditional core services that improve the lives of patients dealing with:
- Ankle and foot pain
- Back and neck pain
- Balance issues
- Carpel tunnel syndrome
- Chronic pain
- Knee and hip pain
- Neurological issues
- Orthopedic problems
- Plantar fascitis
- Post-surgical rehabilitation
- Repetitive/overuse injuries
- Athletic injuries
- Shoulder pain
- On-the-job injuries
To learn more about services offered at Covenant Health Therapy Center – West Knox , call (865) 531-5710.
Certified Hand Therapy
When injury or illness limits your ability to use your hands, it can be devastating. Everything from work to personal care is impacted by the ability to grasp, pull, and lift. Covenant Health therapists offers certified hand therapy to ensure the best recovery possible. Specially trained physical therapists treat hands affected by a variety of conditions:
- Congenital anomalies
- Fractures and lacerations
- Overuse syndromes and repetitive strain injuries
- Vascular/lymphatic problems
The center’s certified hand therapists treat patients from all walks of life. If problems with your
hands are holding you back, see your doctor and ask about a referral to Covenant Health Therapy Center – West Knoxville.