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Kim: Physical Therapy

Image of Kim Robinson.

Kim Robinson has lived with chronic pain for more than two decades. It was a pain that gradually worsened over time, until it had spread to various joints and muscles throughout her body.

"Every day over the years my body hurt," says Kim, who was eventually diagnosed with fibromyalgia, arthritis, and musculoskeletal problems. “I was always in pain. I went to bed with pain and woke up with pain.”

She finally found relief in outpatient therapy at the UPMC Rehabilitation Insitute in Penn Hills just minutes from her home. “It’s made a world of difference,” says Kim, now 66. “My life has changed for the better.”

A life of pain

Over the years, Kim saw multiple doctors and specialists but was unwilling to take what she described as “heavy duty” drugs or injections. Instead, she relied on old-fashioned remedies like hot showers and rubdowns. She tried physical therapy many times, but nothing helped.

Kim finally began seeing a specialist in physical medicine and rehabilitation who encouraged her to try physical therapy again. That led her to the Penn Hills location five minutes from her home where she began working with physical therapist Emily Miskell, PT.

“Emily immediately understood the pain I was going through,” says Kim. “She and everyone there were genuinely concerned. Their personal care and attitude were — and still are — remarkable.”

Finding relief in person and via video visits

Kim’s treatment included stretching and strengthening exercises plus instrument-assisted soft tissue mobilization (IASTM), a technique used to ease pain and tightness in the body. She began using weights, bands, and an exercise bike during her physical therapy sessions.

Kim also was able to use video visits when the weather was too cold or snowy for her to drive to the clinic for physical therapy.

With guidance from Emily, Kim ordered equipment and set up a home gym with a medicine ball, bands, weights, and a bike pedal exerciser to use while sitting in a chair.

“Emily would come on the video and it was like a regular appointment — except that I was at home,” says Kim. “That helped a lot. It kept me on point.”

Having regular physical therapy sessions has kept her moving and eased her pain, says Kim. “The program they developed for me kept me off the operating table,” she says.

“But it’s not just therapy,” adds Kim. “They’re also great listeners who encourage me. They hear me and see me — and that makes a world of difference.”

A better life

Thanks to physical therapy, Kim says she can stand longer, walk farther, and sit longer without pain. “Before, I couldn’t sit 15 minutes without feeling pain,” she says.

Kim also noticed another benefit of her personal physical therapy journey — curves. “Because of the PT program, my body’s getting a shape,” she says with a laugh.

Early in 2022, Kim finally made a long-planned trip to Arizona.

“The team made it possible for me to make that trip. They’ve been my biggest cheerleaders. They worked very hard for me to be able to get on that plane and sit so long,” says Kim.

“Emily and everyone else have my best interest at heart. They’ve been my biggest cheerleaders. And I’m very grateful,” says Kim.

Read more stories from physical therapy patients.

Learn more about the Physical Therapy Program.