Troy Smith has begun treating a new type of patient.
The co-owner of Indiana Physical Therapy has been booking appointments with people who have survived COVID-19, especially those who were hospitalized.
“We help them get going again,” Smith said.
After spending two weeks flat on their backs, patients might need six to eight weeks to regain their strength, he said. That includes people who are preparing to return to desk jobs, which require only light duty.
“Just getting them back to normalcy is a challenge,” Smith added.
Smith, who is senior therapist, treats patients in the firm's Stellhorn clinic on Lahmeyer Road. His caseload includes people with neck and upper back stiffness brought on by working on computers propped on kitchen tables, coffee tables and other surfaces that aren't at the proper height and distance from the user.
In most cases, the arrangements were adopted hurriedly in the spring when the coronavirus pandemic forced many office workers to work remotely.
In addition to alleviating the pain, Smith advises patients on how they can rearrange their home setups.
“Otherwise, you treat them and they're going to go home and do the same thing again, and the symptoms come back, and they think you don't know anything at all,” Smith said.
Not all patients underestimate their physical therapist, he said. Some believe the professionals can perform miracles. After suffering for weeks from their cobbled-together home office, those patients expect to feel better in a day or a week before leaving on a golfing vacation, an expectation Smith said is unrealistic.
The pandemic is also responsible for a third new type of patient. They are the ones trying to stay active despite pandemic-related restrictions.
Smith described a man who couldn't go to his fitness center so he made his own weight set using instructions found online. The inexperienced weightlifter “tried to teach himself.” The result was significant back pain.
“People are trying things,” Smith said, “just to break up the monotony of being cooped up.”