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Thank you, Willem Verweij & Associates.

Every once in a while you meet someone who loves to do what they do. In early February this year I slipped on some ice and fell, damaging the L3 and L4 discs in the lumbar area of my lower back. Also damaged in the fall were my T2 and T3 cervical vertebrae in my upper back. My back reacts to an injury like this by convulsive spasms in the muscles around the damaged discs as a kind of self-defense mechanism. Pain from this kind of spasm is paralyzing. I could barely move without my back seizing, rendering me immobile.

As days, then weeks, went by I realized that even with bed rest, medication and heating pads I was not healing. I began missing days from work and my ability to provide for my family was threatened. I needed help. My biggest fear was that I'd need risky and complex back surgery. I've never met anyone in my life that has had successful back surgery for the kind of damage I am describing so naturally I was feeling very down. Most of the people I know who've had back surgery have regretted it deeply. And they remain in pain to this day with low range of motion and/or under the influence of addictive pain killers and muscle relaxants.

What I needed was a good physical therapist, one who could think out of the box, one who could help me get back on my feet as soon as possible. I had had PT on my back in years past for occasional disc and muscle strains but I was always disappointed; they seemed to only want to hook me up to an e-stim (electro-stimulation) machine and walk away, or just have me do some exercises and ask me over and over at the same time 'how's the pain now?' No real hands on involvement. No long term game plan. No insight into the root cause of the problem. And so I could always plan on re-injury a few months later.

I noticed after a brief Google search on the Internet that there was a physical therapist, Willem Verweij and Associates, right next to my factory here on Rochester's Industrial Way, a short walk away (if I could walk that is). My wife and my eight year old daughter had to practically carry me in the door for my first visit with Willem and his team. I was as stooped as that old man on the album cover of Led Zeppelin IV (I'm actually 46 years old). After just my first visit with Willem I was able to gain a slight range of motion and had my first reprieve from the pain. Willem carefully measured my range of motion, pinpointed the actual location of the multiple disc damage and developed a custom regimen of spine loosening, stretching and core strengthening exercises designed to improve my specific damage.

During these PT sessions with Willem, Stephanie and Jamie, I was put through manipulations of the spine to facilitate movement and identify issues. They are always so upbeat and positive and they put all of their focus on the patient. I consider them my friends. I continue to work on a yoga stability ball doing the exercises they've specified for me: prone tucks, side lying stretches, bridging, walkouts, push-ups, light dumbbell work, etc. I also do a plank pose workout religiously.

It's been about 2-1/2 months since my injury and two months since my first visit with Willem. My pain is mostly gone. It feels great to go on long walks again. I am gaining back and core strength every day and hope to be back to mountain biking again soon. I wanted to write this letter of thanks so that the rest of the community at large knows that there is a PT out there, locally, who is in the business of true problem solving. I don't normally write editorials but I think this is something about our community that I feel passionately about. I hope anyone who might be considering back surgery reads this and gives Willem a call first. Are they miracle workers? Willem Verweij and his team are simply people who love to do what they do.


Steven L. Day, P.E.