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Scoliosis and related rod fusion surgery at age 15 didn't keep Barbara Jones from being active. She was a runner in her 30s, and turned to cycling in her 40s. But it wasn't easy.

Due to the extreme curvature of her spine, Barbara’s body struggled to compensate. She was often stiff and sore. Her lung expansion was poor when breathing. Eventually, Barbara developed degenerative disk disease, prompting a second surgery. Then, in an effort to get back into shape, she suffered a rotator cuff tear in the midst of doing a push-up.

It was that last injury that brought her to physical therapist Secili DeStefano, PT, DPT, OCS. And it didn't take long for DeStefano to see that Barbara's rotator cuff was only one of many problems.

"We did have to deal with her acute rotator cuff problem, but in general the stiffness throughout her whole body [was the problem] because she had the internal fixation that was limiting mobility. We wanted to get her access to [her highly functioning body parts], so she could improve her life and get back to the activities that she loved."

Together, they made an individualized plan to address Barbara's imbalanced biomechanics to optimize her motion and improve her respiratory performance.

Barbara was skeptical at first.

"I thought I would have to give up biking and hiking, and all the things that I like to do," she said. "Secili was absolutely affirmative that I'm going to get back to do that. She instilled it in me that I was going to get that 100% recovery—100% for me, not for the average person, but for me."

Barbara's regimen at physical therapy included intense isolated stretching exercises and dry needling. She also practiced physical therapy "homework," performing intense stretches timed to a stopwatch, attended Bikram yoga sessions, received intense massage treatments, and worked on her cardiovascular exercise at the gym.

After many months of intense commitment to her program, Barbara began to see improvement. Soon enough, she was back on her bike. Eventually, she was challenging herself by participating in Bike Virginia, a rigorous multiple day cycling road tour covering 300 miles.

Today, with continuous maintenance of what she learned through physical therapy, Barbara is able to stay on her bike and enjoy an active life.

Listen to Barbara's experience with physical therapy at Move Forward Radio

Physical therapists are movement experts who improve quality of life through hands-on care, patient education, and prescribed movement. You can contact a physical therapist directly for an evaluation. To locate a physical therapist in your area, visit Find a PT.

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