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October 16, 2012 > Washington Outpatient Rehab Center Can Get You Moving Again

Washington Outpatient Rehab Center Can Get You Moving Again

Local Truck Driver is Back to Work Thanks to Physical Therapy

Gordon Bruce was determined to get back to his job as a truck driver. The problem was he could barely move, let alone lift the heavy boxes of liquor he delivers. After he had major back surgery, a doctor told him he probably wouldn't be able to return to that line of work. But thanks to the physical therapy he received at the Washington Outpatient Rehabilitation Center, Bruce is back on the job and feeling good.

"I just knew I had to get back to work," he said. "I'm four years away from retiring from the Teamsters and I didn't want to give up my benefits. I explained that to the physical therapist and he heard me. He put together a plan of action to get me where I needed to be."

Bruce had his back surgery in September 2011 and started physical therapy a couple months later. At that time, his back was still healing, so his movements were limited.

"We worked closely with his surgeon to determine what exercises he could handle," said Gener Jimenez, a physical therapist at the Washington Outpatient Rehabilitation Center. "We had to follow specific instructions from the surgeon. It's challenging because if you do too much, it could set back the patient's healing, but if you don't do enough, you can't maximize the improvement."

After two months of physical therapy, Bruce regained some balance and movement. But it was just the beginning. He had to allow additional healing in the spine to take place before he could continue with the physical therapy.

Out of Balance

"When I started with Gener, I couldn't even stand for 30 seconds with my eyes closed my balance was so bad," Bruce said. "It's unbelievable how much strength you lose in a short amount of time. After that first two months of physical therapy, I was doing much better. I was walking with a cane."

He spent the next several months resting and letting his back heal. Then in February 2012, he went back to physical therapy to regain his strength and do whatever it took to get back to work.

"I did everything the doctor said I should do," he said. "If he said I could only lift five pounds, I only lifted five pounds. I followed his instructions to the letter."

Bruce worked with Jimenez over the next couple of months to get his strength back, improve his range of motion, and regain his ability to move the heavy boxes he delivers for work. He lifted weights and did floor exercises to build up his core strength.

"Gener created exercises for me that were specifically designed for the work I do," he explained. "He took a milk crate and added weights to it as I got stronger. I practiced lifting it up off the ground and setting it on the counter. He taught me the right way to lift so it didn't put so much strain on my back. I worked really, really hard to get to where I am today."

Getting People Moving

Physical therapists like Gener Jimenez are specially trained to get people moving. October is Physical Therapy Month, a good time to focus attention on the benefits of these skilled professionals. At Washington Outpatient Rehabilitation Center, highly trained physical therapists develop individualized treatment plans like Jimenez did for Bruce so that patients can improve their physical abilities and get back to their regular lives, whether that means work, exercise routines, hobbies, or some of the daily tasks required for living like making the bed or getting dressed.

Patients who are referred to the Outpatient Rehabilitation Center undergo a thorough evaluation at their first visit. A complete medical history is taken so therapists know about any medical conditions like high blood pressure or respiratory issues that must be monitored. As with Bruce, they also work closely with patients' physicians to ensure that the treatment plan best meets their needs, taking into account any medical limitations.

After a thorough evaluation to determine pain levels, strength, and range of motion abilities, physical therapists work with rehab patients to help reduce their pain and increase their strength and flexibility.

With the help of physical therapy, Bruce is now back to work and enjoying life with his family, including a recent trip to Disneyland with his wife and grandchildren.

"I probably wouldn't have made it back to work without the physical therapy," he said. "I definitely wouldn't have been back on the job as fast as I was. It made a huge difference."

To learn more about the services offered at the Washington Outpatient Rehabilitation Center, visit or call (510) 794-9672.

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