“This blue line became my friend,” says Amy Ofenbeck..
Towing the line was something Amy Ofenbeck came to expect as part of her physical therapy.
You said the minute you got here, they’d take the cane away from you?
“Yeah the minute I get here Abe would just take the cane away from me and he’d be like ok here you go. And you had to do it,” says Ofenbeck.
Navigating bumps in the road was only one of the obstacles she worked to overcome.
“It’s been a really interesting road to say the least. I’ve had eight brain surgeries in the past 15 years, stemming from a ruptured brain aneurysm,” says Ofenbeck.
Patients with a brain injury, including aneurysm and stroke, benefit from a different approach to rehab. Compared to someone recovering from a muscular injury, their problems are all in their head.
“You’re trying to approach it more from a functional standpoint. In the NDT- neuro development training that I do, you try to create movement that was there before,” says Abe Abarbanel, neurodevelopment therapist with Lee Memorial Health System.
“After I had my decompression surgery I was barely moving. I met with Abe and I knew he was the guy. And it took me six months to be able to walk without the walker. I was just there three times a week for six months working with him,” says Ofenbeck.
Balance, control and strength must work together if patients are going to move forward. Therapy isn’t a matter of progressing through incremental hurdles, but relearning everyday activities.
“In Amy’s situation it was walking. So we go back to her functional walking. Walking on different surfaces, walking with different challenges and as natural as possible,” says Abarbanel.
Which brings us back to where we started. That blue line.
“She walks with a wide base of support, her feet are far apart. The blue line that we have is about a foot wide and we try to get to walk inside the blue line and once she’s capable of doing that I want her to walk on the blue and the green line which is kind of a tight rope walk and that challenges her,” says Abarbanel.
One of the many challenges Ofenbeck faces, everyday.
“I have my bad days like anybody does. But the next day is a brand new day,” says Ofenbeck.