A Day At The Local VA: To Help You Become Productive, However... - Part 3 of 3

Written by veterans  |  21. July 2006

Parts I and II were slam-dunks - little more need be said. Now I readily agree that Part III has more than one shade-of-gray. However (my turn to say that - read on, you'll see), I and many of my fellow Veterans would suggest that while those who (claim to) hold a contrary position have a right to their opinion, let them walk-a-mile in our shoes (take that literally, figuratively, and for its pun-ishment) and perhaps they would quickly change their minds. Now, about VA PT... VA PT - But First A Goal One of the VA's goals is to help injured military personnel enter civilian life as productive citizens - adding to the public welfare, not being a drain on it. Similarly, the VA will provide health care to a veteran whose health has taken a turn or two for the worse. VA PT - Physical Therapy of the VA Kind Have a leg injury, seriously wrench your back, wear a cast for long enough and you will need physical therapy, or PT, to regain some or all of the mobility you once had. As you progress through your regimen of PT, your progress will be monitored and (hopefully) by the end of your course of treatment you will once again be able to run those miles, move without back pain, or hit those service aces. Straight-forward, really nothing to question. Let say you have no use of your legs - you can no longer stand up for even the shortest of times. There is a benefit to be derived from PT. Those leg ligaments need to be stretched on a regular basis. And even more important, placing a "load" on your legs - remember, you can no longer stand - will go a long way to lessen the decalcification of the bones in your legs that occurs when you no longer "use" them. Enter the Slant Board. You are strapped on the board. The board is tilted up. And for tens of minutes you can mentally do what you will as your legs and those pesky bones within are forced to support you. Why is this necessary? When your bones decalcify they are prone to fractures - they break, it seems, almost on their own. Now for "rub" number 1 - the VA will provide a veteran with needed PT. HOWEVER, in order to gauge the effectiveness of the veteran's on-going PT and to determine whether that course of treatment is to be continued, the VA measures improvement in a particular, or a set of functions. Improvement - as in can you move it more fully through its full range of motion or move it with less pain. That means while it is a proven fact that sessions on a slant board help in preventing bone decalcifications, such sessions do not have any easily verified attributes that show improvement. They are of a remedial nature. And the VA does not provide remedial PT. I guess the Veteran is expected to solace in the fact that once their bones decalcify enough (and this they will) the VA is ready and willing to treat any and all leg bone fractures. Needed PT - But First A Side Bar On Transportation Say you are a veteran disabled to the extent that you no longer can drive a car - say you are in a wheel chair. While the "normal" drive time is less than an hour each way, using any of the variety of different methods to get to your appointment means an average of two hours each way. Yes, there are days when the one way drive time is closer to normal. But there are just as many days when (I might even say - More often than not) the one way drive time is two hours. Have a ten o'clock appointment - if you schedule your pick-up time after eight, you have a good chance being late. Needed PT - Of That There Is No Question, However... Getting back to those leg ligaments that need to be stretched. One hour of treatment - someone "exercising" your legs for you - on a regular basis goes a long way in helping you retain a healthy level of flexibility. If one or both of your arms have also lost some functionality, they too will benefit from assisted exercise. And the VA is more than willing to provide this needed exercise for you - good old PT. HOWEVER, you have to get to them. The VA has no service that will come to you. Rub number 2. As a productive citizen, you need to spend several days a week (2 to 3) at a one hour PT session that costs you, time wise, more like five-plus hours a day. Presuming you can use a Saturday or Sunday for one of the days, how many jobs do you know of that allows you to be docked (against your personal, sick, and vacation time) 5-hours, 26 or 52 times a year? This is in addition to the times you must spend with your doctors and others for other than PT. I thought not. Enjoy your "shoes" - you wouldn't want the "walk" in the Veterans. --- Regards, Walt Schmidt

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