Hope for a Healthier Life

Treatment helps restaurant owner manage chronic neck issues.

Photo by Nerissa Johnson.

Physical therapy is helping Nathaniel manage his restaurant, D.B. Pickles.

Nathaniel James was living the dream. Literally. One minute, he lay dreaming in bed, playing the hero and diving to save his wife, Clora, from peril. The next, he lay face down on the floor, unable to move.

“I was having a dream that I was saving my wife, and I dived out of bed and came down on the hardwood floor and broke my neck,” says the retired New Jersey banker and co-owner of D.B. Pickles restaurant in Ormond Beach.

Life for Nathaniel became a nightmare after that incident in 2010. He was left 90 percent paralyzed by the fall from bed and for years was confined to a wheelchair. In time, a variety of treatments and Nathaniel’s own grit and determination helped him graduate from the wheelchair to a walker, then a cane and finally to unassisted walking.

Along the way, Nathaniel also underwent cervical spinal fusion surgery to stabilize his neck. The surgery was deemed a success, but it limited the mobility in Nathaniel’s neck, which eventually affected several aspects of his life, including his ability to drive safely.

“You have to be able to turn your head to drive,” he says.

Finally, Hope

After visiting a number of physical therapy practices but gaining no relief, Nathaniel found Barr & Associates Physical Therapy in 2015. The practice helps anyone with acute conditions, but Jacob Barr, PT, DPT and his staff also work with patients such as Nathaniel, who have chronic conditions.

“When Nathaniel fell out of bed back in 2010, he injured his neck to such a degree that it was unstable,” Dr. Barr says. “When he had the fusion surgery, the joints were fused. As a result, he was left with limited motion in his neck. Over time, the muscles respond to that limited motion by getting tight.”

“When I went in, the first thing Dr. Barr did was measure how far I could turn my head,” Nathaniel says. “It was a step-by-step process to get me to where I needed to be.”

After examining Nathaniel, Dr. Barr recommended a treatment regimen that included soft tissue massage, manual stretching of the neck and shoulder area and mobility and strengthening exercises.

“There are also some things machine-wise that we did with him that he could not do at home,’’ Dr. Barr relates. “There’s an upper body bike and some tubing and band exercises that we do with some attachments on the wall here for him.

“And then there are some things that we show him to do on his own. Some of those are exercises that he can do at home, but we also showed him some things that he can try to do at the gym to keep up with things.”

Nathaniel’s treatment regimen calls for him to visit Barr & Associates twice a week for up to eight weeks, with each visit lasting about an hour. Nathaniel says the treatment regimen now has him doing things he thought he might never do again.

“With the assistance of Dr. Barr’s therapy and the exercise program that he gave me, I have more mobility in my neck,” Nathaniel says. “I have the mobility to turn my neck and also look up farther than what I could prior to visiting Barr and Associates. I’m even working out three to four days a week at the YMCA, and I’ve lost thirty pounds. My blood pressure is down, too.”

Dr. Barr says that even though Nathaniel is physically active and takes control of his health, flareups are inevitable. As a result, Nathaniel has been encouraged to return to Barr & Associates whenever he feels his neck starting to get tight again.

“Just given the situation of his surgery and the chronicity of it, it could be just about anything that sparks that flare-up,” Dr. Barr explains. “It could be the way that he sleeps; it could be just due to mobility if he’s straining his neck too much.

“Because he does have limited mobility, just turning his head while driving is difficult for him at times. Over-straining his neck can lead to an exacerbation. But we have remedies for that.

“And sometimes, when people have chronic conditions, they feel like there’s nothing that can be done. While they are always going to have some symptoms, there are treatments where we can get things calmed down and manageable on a day-to-day basis.”

Epitome of Professionalism

Nathaniel is benefitting greatly from those treatments. He says his relationship with Barr & Associates and the therapy provided to him have significantly improved his quality of life. He knows the stiffness will never disappear, but regular therapy keeps things under control and allows him to perform daily activities.

“They are the epitome of professionalism,” he says. “And the equipment they have there is very up to date. Every time I go in there, I see something different. And I like that they respect your time. If your appointment is at nine o’clock, by nine-o-two, they’re taking you in.”

Nathaniel adds that he appreciates that Dr. Barr also asks the right questions to assess his needs and help him get the most out of his sessions.

“A lot of times, you go to the doctor and they ask you how you are,’’ Nathaniel says. “The first thing you say is, I’m okay. But if you’re okay, why are you there? Dr. Barr wasn’t like that. He asked the right questions.

“Like I said, they handle their clients with the epitome of professionalism.”

 

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