80-year-old Patient gets Pain Relief from Online Session

A friend of my mum who lives in Singapore was complaining of feeling depressed because of her constant left shoulder pain and reduced activity levels. The pain started 2 years ago when she fell hard onto her shoulder and both fractured and dislocated it. This left her with a nagging ache and limited mobility.

She decided to try a virtual session with me using whats app at my mum’s suggestion. Her desktop computer did not have a camera or microphone. It was unsure if anything could be done to help her but there was nothing to lose in trying out a session.

On the first session, she demonstrated limited shoulder range of motion and showed me the precise location of pain. The most painful and stiff motion was reaching behind her back. I showed her some simple massage and shoulder stretching techniques. By the second session, she had observed some gains in mobility and a slight reduction in pain and by the fourth session, she no longer had constant pain, only pain immediately after the stretches.

Over the course of 6 sessions, the stretching and mobility exercises were gradually progressed with the focus being on reaching behind her back. We engaged the assistance of a helper to massage areas that she could not reach. This helped to release tight knots in her shoulder capsule and muscles that were bound up and hindering her mobility.

By the 6th session, she had made significant gains in mobility, being able to reach up high and rest her hand more comfortably behind her back. Her post-treatment pain had also subsided. She had not gained full mobility but now she was able to use her arm functionally for most activities of daily living with little to no pain and she had a self-management program that would help her make incremental gains in range over time.

I find this level of improvement in an 80-year-old patient on the other side of the world using virtual physiotherapy remarkable and impressive. Her progress is a combination of my guidance and her own determination and dedication to the work of rehabilitation.