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Matt: Physical Therapy

Image of Matt wearing ski mask on his head.

Matt lives an active life – running marathons, snowboarding, and coaching cross country. So, when the 45-year-old corrections officer first started to experience pain in his left hip and leg, he assumed it was just a part of getting older. But when the pain grew to be unbearable, he knew he needed to seek help at UPMC Rehabilitation Institute outpatient rehabilitation clinic in Erie on Peninsula Drive.

“The pain got worse and worse, to the point where I couldn’t even climb the stairs with my left leg. I had to take one step at a time and lead with my right leg,” says Matt. “I was barely sleeping since I couldn’t lay on my sides. I had to stop running due to the pain, and I couldn’t even work.”

Matt worked with Ryan Brown, DPT, Cert. MDT, to pinpoint the cause of his pain and treat it. To best identify the source of the problem, Matt was prescribed three exercises to try. Ryan instructed him to try the first exercise for two days and see if there was any improvement. If not, he should move on to the second exercise for two days, assess his condition, and so on.

After the first exercise yielded no improvement, Matt began the second exercise on Thanksgiving morning.

“I was determined to get better and didn’t want to miss out on the holiday festivities with my family,” says Matt. “When I first tried the second exercise, I did three sets of 10, and I immediately felt something different. I wasn’t sure if it was good or bad, but there was definitely something happening that I hadn’t felt before.”

By that afternoon when his family came over for Thanksgiving dinner, Matt was able to put his weight on his left leg. That night, he was able to get some sleep.

He continued doing that exercise for one week, and after his second physical therapy session, he was able to move better and ease himself back into running again. By the following weekend, he felt almost fully recovered and ready to go back to work.

“I was overjoyed. Thanks to one exercise, I was already feeling like I was getting back to my life,” says Matt. “I never even had to try the third exercise!”

Once Matt and Ryan knew that the second exercise helped reduce the pain, Ryan was able to determine that the problem wasn’t stemming from the hip and leg like Matt originally thought. In fact, it was originating in Matt’s back.

“That exercise apparently helped to loosen me up and improve the mobility of my leg, which then helped lessen my inflammation and pain,” says Matt.

After only a few weeks and four visits with UPMC Rehabilitation Institute, Matt was back to running, back at work, and enjoying other activities like snowboarding.

“I’ve seen firsthand the wonders that physical therapy can do, and I’m amazed that I felt completely healed in just four visits,” says Matt. “For the first time in years, I feel at 100%.”

Read more stories from physical therapy patients.

Learn more about the Physical Therapy Program.