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Reclaim Easier Movement

By Meryl Nadell

Kathy Whipps, a 70 year-old, down-to-earth, spirited British grandmother, came to the US two years ago to live with her daughter and son-in-law and care for their newborn son, Will. Kathy, who retired five years ago, had been a deputy warden at a sheltered accommodation for the elderly. She had crushed the lower disk in her lumbar spine in a fall about 30 years ago and began favoring her left leg since that time. About 15 years later, she slipped on the ice and re-injured her back, this time on the right side. Five years ago she had another major fall during a hike, again bruising the lumbar and ischial areas.

After each fall, she was prescribed complete bed rest. She also developed arthritis in both wrists, particularly her right hand. She began moving with great care and caution to protect herself against further injury. She developed significant kyphosis in her thoracic spine about 8 years ago, and began standing and walking hunched over. In fact, when she looked in the mirror, she felt as though she looked old and she didn’t like it at all.

My first lesson with Kathy was in April, 2000. She was curious, but skeptical, and willingly laid down on the table with a bit of difficulty and a lot of rigidity, wondering what would take place. I helped Kathy become aware of how her spine could lengthen and how she could hold her head differently. At the end of the lesson, which she said made her feel as if she were floating, she not only felt taller but felt a shift in her torso and legs and held herself very differently. Kathy decided to continue lessons, and except for several extended visits to England, comes for weekly Functional Integration® lessons.

Kathy has been delighted with the changes in how she feels. For example, she noticed that when she pushed her grandson in the stroller, her back would hurt. As she became more aware of her movement, she easily reorganized herself and walked with greater flow and ease. Getting into bed was no longer a struggle; nor was getting out of a chair, into and out of a car, or bending down and playing with Will. She stopped having “pins and needles” and numbness in her left thigh. She became aware that she never extended her wrists when lying down, and was pleased when they became softer and nodules that had been in her right hand decreased or disappeared completely. Her gait is more balanced and easier and her body has met the challenges of caring for her grandson.

This past November, Kathy had another bad fall when she tripped over some toys while playing in the house with Will. Although she hurt her pelvis, wrist and leg, and needed a cane for a while, she regained her range of movement in a very short time. She is pleased that she became so flexible before the fall, and is delighted with how quickly she recovered. “The lessons have enabled me to enjoy being with Will more than ever,” said Kathy. “Coming here has given me a tremendous awareness of what my body is doing. I had accepted what had been happening to my body and felt that was the result of getting older. But now, each lesson recharges my batteries and I feel uplifted.” Kathy is delighted with all that she has learned and looks forward to continuing the process.

Kathy is one of the senior adults I have worked with who have discovered the pleasure of reclaiming muscular activity, transcending limiting habitual movement patterns that they did not know they had the ability to change and discovering the pleasure of freer, easier movement.

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