When Andy fell downstairs and suffered a back injury, he became 100% reliant on his partner, unable to do everyday things. That is until he received physiotherapy from the physical health specialists at Vita Health Group.
Andy (not his real name), a 35-year-old team leader from Leeds, suffered with back pain since his early 20s. He put this down to lifting heavy kegs in the pub where he worked. Fast forward 15 years, Andy fell down the stairs and his back pain went from bad to worse.
Andy landed back-first on the banister of the stairs which caused intense pain, numbness and severe pins and needles down his legs.
“It was agony,” he explained, “I could barely sit or stand for longer than five minutes and just couldn’t get comfortable no matter what I did. My job relies on me sitting for a long period of time, but I just couldn’t do it. This meant I ended up spending weeks upon weeks at home alone and off work. This also impacted my mental health.”
Andy continued, “I hated how, as a previously strong and able man, I couldn’t help my partner with things around the house and even had to get help climbing the stairs. Ultimately, it’s a bit of a pride thing, but I really didn’t feel valuable to anyone at the time.”
Andy was in constant pain which he found demoralising and upsetting. And he was all too aware how these negative feelings could spiral out of control.
“No matter what position I moved to, I would just end up in pain. It was so debilitating, not to mention demoralising for a previously active and independent man.”
Andy was most concerned about the pins and needles down his legs and discussed surgery with his consultant. However, given this was the height of Covid and going through major surgery at this time would bring additional challenges, Andy and his consultant agreed the best route would be to try a non-surgical treatment method like physiotherapy.
With this in mind, Andy decided to access an employee healthcare physiotherapy package which allowed employees to tap into the experts at Vita Health Group.
Andy started physiotherapy during the height of Coronavirus, which meant all of his sessions took place online. He found this to be an ideal solution for him as it meant he didn’t need to make uncomfortable car journeys or rely on someone else to take him to his appointments. Given he couldn’t walk more than 100 metres, the idea of travelling to a clinic filled him with dread.
Whilst Andy enjoyed the virtual element of the sessions, he also found the app that went hand-in-hand with the exercises to be a huge help. He explains, “Vita Health Group has an app which provides feedback to your physio on how you are doing. Not only this, but the app shows you videos, so you never forget the moves and stretches. It was a useful reminder.”
“Physiotherapy pushed me in a good way. Not only did my physio coach me, but she empowered me to get better, too.”
Andy was very aware that there were no quick fixes to his back issues. As he explains, “Back injury is not just about taking a pill to get better. Back injuries often take years to recover from, and my physio was very realistic about my treatment time.”
“When it comes to posture and back care issues, it all comes down to long term behavioural change. It is rarely about medication or a quick fix. This is what makes back pain one of the most debilitating issues and why it can have such a big impact on people’s mental health.”
Andy found the structure and reinforcement during the sessions very positive. He also benefited from the additional education piece the physio provided which focused on general health issues such as posture, diet, and healthy habits. On top of this he enjoyed the group element of the programme whereby the physio ran extra sessions to bring people, who were all going through similar issues, together.
He comments, “Doing a class in a group makes you feel like you are not alone going through this and that you have a support network. Ultimately, it can be a very lonely time going through a condition like this and it was comforting to hear other people going through what I had and witnessing them getting better.”
One of the things Andy really appreciated was the support he got even when his physiotherapy sessions came to an end. He clarifies, “Even when the sessions had finished, I was still able to call my physio for the following six months and then we also had a more formal check in session, too. This ongoing access to support was really reassuring.”
Andy also thought it was really valuable that Vita Health Group offered a bolt on of mental health support to physio patients, not least because he was well aware of how both mental and physical health were interlinked. Whilst he didn’t end up needing to go down this route, he really appreciated the fact that this offer was there and available for him if he needed it.
It is now coming up to a year since his accident and Andy is finally able to work again. He admits he isn’t yet 100% fixed but is feeling positive that he has a plan in place to manage work. He is also happy that he is now able to help around the house and he is starting to feel more like himself again.
Attending the physiotherapy sessions, provided by Vita Health Group, helped Andy to regain his life. The movements and activities that he found impossible after the accident are now becoming easier and Andy feels he is able to enjoy his life again.
“I finally feel more independent again. Getting back to work has been a game changer, especially given the cost-of-living crisis. After all, no one can afford to be off work sick right now.”
This was the first stage of Andy’s treatment with Vita Health Group. Andy is able to access a second stage of treatment via the support channels from his employer if he requires further care.