Taking Great Pains to Take Away Yours

Staff develops custom back treatments to restore patients’ mobility.

Talk about being mechanically inclined. Before he was 10 years old, Brian Hendrickson had already switched out his first automobile engine. Granted, he did so with the help of his brothers, but it was evident early on that Brian had a special talent.

Photo by Jordan Pysz.

Brian Hendrickson

So how in the world did he end up making his living building fences?

“When I was in high school, I spent about half my day at a technical school, where I learned diesel mechanics and welding,” says Brian, 44. “After that, I went into the welding industry and got a job running a welding shop at a fence company in New York.”

Through connections he made at the fence company, Brian eventually opened his own fence company at age 23. He later moved that business to Hudson, and worked until 2012, when a lingering back issue forced him to go on disability.

Brian’s back issues stemmed from an injury suffered years earlier, when a work associate left him holding the heavy end of a 400-pound pipe the two had been lifting.

Brian spent a year recovering until he was able to resume a normal, active lifestyle. The back pain lingered, however. When those issues became acute in 2012, Brian learned his pain was largely a result of a disc that ruptured so badly it was penetrating his spinal cord.

After two surgeons refused to touch him, a repair of the intruding disc was finally attempted in 2014. But that succeeded only in removing a portion of the disc from Brian’s spinal cord, leaving him in a very unstable situation.

“Part of the disc was still indented, and because of that, I wasn’t steady on my feet anymore,” Brian says. “I was always a bit off balance, and my legs were weak. I also had this uncontrollable shaking in my legs.”

In an effort to alleviate his symptoms, Brian was advised to undergo physical therapy, but it wasn’t until his mother suggested he visit Regional Rehab in Spring Hill that he finally found a team of therapists who could improve his situation.

Triple Play

“Brian is a very strong young man who has done a lot of physical work throughout his life, but if you look at the x-rays of his back, you’d think you were looking at the x-rays of a 96-year-old man,” says Paul Ernandes, PT, PhD, at Regional Rehab.

“His back from top to bottom is completely worn out. That’s why he has so much spinal instability. What we had to do with Brian is come up with a uniquely personalized treatment plan to help alleviate some of his symptoms.”

Aimed especially at alleviating muscle spasms throughout his back, manual deep tissue massage was one of the most integral elements of the plan devised for Brian, who received that therapy from Glenn Guterman, PTA, CCI.

“I worked with Brian once, and after I was done, my hands were hurting, and I was tired,” Paul explains. “And even worse was the fact that afterward, Brian looked at me and said, You barely made an impact. So, we turned him over to Glenn.”

“Glenn and everyone there are miracle workers. – Brian

Working with Brian proved to be a workout for Glenn as well, but by using a special massage technique he was able to get deep into Brian’s muscles and relieve him of a great deal of the spasms that were at the root of his discomfort.

As adjuncts, the staff at Regional Rehab also incorporated the use of two of the most advanced tools available to physical therapists, the Class IV deep tissue therapeutic laser and the HIVAMAT® 200 deep oscillation therapy device.

The laser uses specific wavelengths of red and near-infrared light to stimulate the body’s natural ability to heal cells. It works by releasing nitric oxide, which removes congestion and swelling, promotes rapid healing and reduces discomfort while increasing blood circulation.

The HIVAMAT 200 creates gentle impulses that relax muscles and penetrate all tissue layers to remove the inflammatory byproducts from the cells that cause pain but are not part of the cells’ natural makeup.

The laser and HIVAMAT 200 are part of a protocol that typically includes stretching and balance exercises as well as manual therapy. Together, these treatments finally got Brian up and moving independently.

“When I first went to Regional Rehab, I was so stiff and sore that my wife had to help me do most everything,” Brian relates. “She had to help me put on my socks and shoes. I needed help in the shower and with just about everything.

“But going to Regional Rehab really helped. Thanks to Glenn and everyone there, I have a lot more mobility now, my pain has decreased dramatically, and I can move around to do things on my own again. Glenn and everyone else there are miracle workers.”

Proper Posture

Gernita Hickman, 54, echoes those sentiments. A former cement-plant worker, she has been ravaged by back pain and for years has searched for a treatment that would erase the need for surgery.

Photo by Jordan Pysz.

Gernita Hickman

The closest thing she found was at Regional Rehab, where the team’s personalized care not only alleviated a great deal of her pain, but also put her in a position where she is now planning to undergo minimally invasive spinal surgery.

“Looking at Gernita’s x-rays, it was evident to us there was so much instability in her back that she would indeed need to have surgery at some point,” Paul reports. “But we also knew that, at the same time, we could help her a great deal. We were certain we could reduce her pain because what we found was that her biggest issue was posture. We worked to restore some of her muscle dysfunction so her spine was more actively stabilized.”

Just as they did with Brian, the team at Regional Rehab combined manual therapy and balance exercises with therapies using the Class IV laser and HIVAMAT 200. Those treatments have Gernita feeling better than she has in years.

“They took great care of me,” Gernita exudes. “When the coronavirus came and we all had to stay home, they sent me a checklist of things to do each day and even called me to check on me and see how I was doing.

“I thank them for all that they’ve done, because now I can have a minimally invasive form of surgery, and were it not for them, I would not be able to do that. I really appreciate everything they’ve done for me.”

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    • Regional Rehab

      Regional Rehab's ultimate goal is to enrich people’s lives by helping to enhance their physical and mental well being, creating an atmosphere of quality care and optimum healing with a loving touch.... Read More

    • Charles C. Donley, PT

      Charles C. Donley, PT, is director of Regional Rehab. He earned his Bachelor of Science degree in Physical Therapy, graduating cum laude, from the University of Pittsburgh, PA. He is a member of the American Physical Therapy Association and Fl... Read More

    • Paul Ernandes, PT, PhD

      Paul Ernandes, PT, PhD, joined the Regional Rehab team in April 2018. His arrival comes after he spent nearly a year serving as the director of physical therapy at Vitality Physicians and Rehab. Paul previously worked for ten years as the dire... Read More