October is National Physical Therapy Month. In honor of our Physical Therapy team, we are sharing one of our patient’s testimonials of how Dechie Bello-Rapoport’s personalized treatment and continued commitment to patient experience helped Ted achieve his goal of crossing the finish line.
When Ted Therriault’s nine-year-old grandson Jack proposed a 15.25 mile hike across Lopez Island, Ted never imagined he would be able to say yes. Pain from arthritic hips and had brought years of joint pain and mobility issues for Ted, limiting his steps.
On May 25, 2019, more than 50 people gathered at the Lopez Ferry terminal to join the grandfather-grandson duo to cross to Sperry Peninsula– “Ferry to Sperry.” Ted and his wife Karla provided refreshments, including lunch, to help fuel the team of hikers along the way. In typical Northwest style, the participants endured pouring rain throughout the six-hour trek.
When Ted first began physical therapy at The Polyclinic, he wasn’t thinking about long-distance hikes – just walking and moving without pain. He was referred to physical therapist Dechie Rapoport. On one of his first visits, Dechie noticed that Ted struggled to even stand and walk, severely limiting his mobility. He couldn’t complete one of her basic assessment tests – sitting on a bench and standing up without using his hands.
Dechie told him if he worked hard, she could help him. Ted signed on. “If Dechie hadn’t taken him on, Ted would not be walking,” said Karla.
Ted started working closely with Dechie and her team, climbing obstacles and using a suspension harness. Stairs and weight-bearing activities still proved difficult, but Ted continued physical therapy sessions with a strong focus on stretching, balance, and gait exercises.
“Ted never said no,” said Dechie in speaking of his determination. “He did any exercise you told him to, and always did his homework. As he got stronger, he was brave enough to try new things yet was never reckless.”
Dechie designed a program for Ted that focused on strengthening his hips and legs. Her goal was to create an achievable challenge that brings sustained improvement.
Karla has watched her husband persevere through several health conditions and major hip surgeries. From barely walking two miles to saying yes to Jack’s cross-island challenge, Karla believes that the constant support from The Polyclinic helped transform Ted’s quality of life. “They didn’t give up on him,” said Karla. “They saw progress. They stuck by him.”
For Dechie, seeing Ted’s ability to walk long distances and his journey across Lopez Island has been extremely rewarding. “I got emotional, even cried when they showed me the pictures and newspaper articles. They told me about it beforehand, and I knew he was doing really well, but it was such a sweet victory for him. This experience also reminded me why I am a physical therapist. Our role is to help bring patients to their maximum potential.”
Today, Ted continues to walk at least four miles per day, an accomplishment he attributes to The Polyclinic. “As an adult, you don’t get adopted very often but we found that at every turn at The Polyclinic.”