Imagine you are out in the town enjoying an evening with friends June 5th, 2016. Whoever knew the night out would be the one that changed your life forever. Your friends walk across the street, and you make your way. All of a sudden you see a car come out of nowhere and it hits you. You attempt to jump out of the way, but the car still managed to hit you. You are knocked over to the right side of your body, land head first, and blacked out. You come to and recall little by little that a feeling in your neck and a sound deep in yours of your neck snapping. Time moves fast, adrenaline pumping, and soon you are being rushed to the hospital in an ambulance with a neck collar on.
The next thing, you wake up in the hospital, and the surgeon is saying a bunch of jargon and the surge of fear, adrenaline rush back you wonder exactly what happened and how physically beaten you are. Waking up to your right arm barely having any feeling, and you couldn’t move it. You are stuck with collar. MD mutters “fusion of the neck C5-C7.”
Wait, wasn’t I just crossing the street, you think? How could this happen to me?
What happened that fateful night was forever going to change your life.
Mr. Michael Navarro
He was a recent patient, who came in December, he incurred a head injury and when he first walked in he was better than I expected based on this incident mentioned above.
He mentioned he had no feeling and movement in his right arm for nearly three more weeks after the initial injury. Rehab and Revive was the last stop of his journey.
He had fractured C5-C7 and fortunately it wasn’t his spinal cord and just peripheral nerves from those segments.
So what does this mean, if the spinal cord were injured he would most likely be deceased or paralyzed in a wheelchair likely to not walk again. This story has a silver lining.
The Inevitable Evolution
“My accident was June 5th, 2016, and not until the beginning of August did I have an in-home Physical Therapist (PT) come to help me gain movement back in my right arm slowly. Once my neck brace was taken off, at the end of Sept, I was cleared to start a slow rehab process. I was going four days a week to help with my arm and neck. I went from January 2017 for the past year, and by then my neck had improved but was still stiff, and my arm remained weak.
From the original in-home PT to my neurosurgeon, to the PT I went to in Oct on they all told me because of the nerve damage to my right arm it was entirely possible it would NEVER be as strong as my left arm again.
However, I never accepted that and continued to push forward and found a new therapy place in March and started going to them a few days a week; this was called the Egoscue method.
At the time it seemed like it was helpful, but after a couple of months with them, I realized I wasn't improving that much and decided to stop working with therapists altogether.
I decided to get back into the gym that summer and initially felt right to be in the gym again. However, my right arm was still weak. I didn't know if what I was doing was the right thing to do or not, so I just kept at it.
During that time my body broke down a couple of times, my lower back went out of place. It was worse than it had ever been.
This whole time I had given up eating meat and started taking cold showers to help with scar tissue and limit inflammation as my body was still stiff and tight.
My right shoulder was always nagging, and my fiancé would massage my shoulder almost every night. However, my arm for so long now just never felt like it was attached to my body as if it was just a limb hanging from my body.
After realizing I needed to do something to address my arm and lower back, I started looking online for a PT, and that's where I found Dr. Justin C. Lin, and I was willing to try his Neuromechanical Therapy (NMT) method.”
The Breakdown And The Build-up
I assessed him thoroughly and was amazed at what I found. I love asking about goals and found out he had aspired to compete in a triathlon, while he enjoys being active, his desired goal is to be able to hold his future child. He wished to feel “normal” and gain mobility and decrease discomfort in the shoulder. Even using a 15 lb dumbbell for a bicep curl was a struggle.
I knew from the minute I met him that he was going to get better with our care. What I saw when Mike first came here was persistence! He was mentally fit and in the right place. Most people blame the world and act as victims, he just wanted to be proactive and was assertive about what happened.
Sometimes the “baggage” from a traumatic event weighs us down.
But Mike, he had potential!!!
What is this “Normal” he speaks about though?
This reference or description is something people come in saying all the time. In the past, I found it very frustrating to understand what that meant. It was arbitrary, and I would pry to get more definition out of it.
It wasn’t until I had my ACL surgery that my left knee like Mike’s shoulder did not feel normal, I would run it into walls and almost “neglect” that it was even in existence. It almost seemed like my brain and awareness had numbed the whole thing out. I couldn’t talk to it, and it didn’t quite work the way I wanted to.
Sure, the surgery like Mike’s was a “success” but was it? Physically, yes! However, I soon came to find that “normal” was more than just the anatomical structures being healed it was using it the way I wanted. It took me some time to make extra courses, and experiment with my knee then that I realized that all those techniques mentioned above were the key to this normal.
I tinkered with this dilemma for a while. I had to get the nerves to mechanical work first, have it untangled via my newly discovered NMT techniques (which I didn’t know I was developing back then), then I had to set my hips and pelvis in better alignment to allow it the capacity to work. The final thing was to make it the nerves and muscles work together in these Neuromuscular techniques to have it “timed” perfectly. This was the beginning of a recipe for things to function normally.
Now in hindsight “Normal” is something I now understand with all my patients as “being able to make the mind to body connection, for any and all movements.” It’s about precision, and it took me so long (and my traumatic injury) to understand what this meant.
For Mike, with every visit, he became more integrated, aware, and connected to his body. The series of NMT, Proprioceptive neuromuscular facilitation (PNF), standard treatments like Functional Manual Therapy ®, and Diane Lee’s rib/thorax/pelvic work seemed to do the trick.
This was an all-encompassing holistic, inside-out approach to help Mike get to the goals we both dreamed of for him.
Where Is Mike Today?
Mike finished with us in January (just two months after he started). He spent about ten visits with us to get back to “Normal”. He is running with new form and new ambition. He is working out again and trying to start a family. Of course, his fusion is still there, and the scars will always be a part of him as second nature as a reminder of the journey. A story of persistence to “never stop looking/searching” for the right answers or something you believe to your core that can be solved. This I think will be something he can share with his kids one day and show that you can overcome anything and that the limits we have are only set by our boundaries.
Here is his review on Yelp below: