LANDSTUHL, Germany — The “Rocky” theme song was the only thing missing from Spc. Christopher Lively’s physical therapy session at Landstuhl Regional Medical Center.
“This is my ‘Rocky’ moment,” said Lively, as he gingerly pumped back-and-forth on an exercise machine.
Then in his best Sly Stallone impression, Lively belted out a “Yo, Adrian.”
During a late July/early August mission in Iraq, Lively, of the Arizona Army National Guard’s 860th Military Police Company, suffered a herniated disc in his neck when a roadside bomb detonated near his Humvee.
“I just remember the blast,” he said. “That’s all I remember. Then, I woke up at Balad [Air Base].”
About a week later, Lively found himself at Landstuhl Regional Medical Center, adhering to a physical therapy regimen that’s a standard part of the hospital’s care.
“It’s helping,” Lively said. “I have more mobility with my left arm.”
While the average stay at Landstuhl is about four days, wounded troops passing through receive physical therapy, in addition to the surgeries and stabilization for which Landstuhl is best known.
“Even though they’re here for a few days, in the scheme of things, I think it’s an important few days,” said Maj. Ford David Paulson, a physical therapist at Landstuhl.
The aim of the physical therapy treatment is to help with joint motion, muscle movement, strengthening and the like.
“You name it, it’s all about helping people move,” Paulson said.
In Lively’s case, his physical therapy could prevent him from having to undergo neck surgery later in life.
Lively received 20 minutes of electrostimulation around his neck before walking — with the help of a cane — to an exercise machine.
“We try to keep him as active as we can without stressing his neck,” said Capt. Terrance Fee, a Landstuhl physical therapist.
A spacious sunroom filled with a variety of exercise machines, mats and equipment awaits patients who have come to associate the letters “PT” with physical therapy rather than physical training.
And for those too injured to make it to the hospital’s physical therapy wing, the physical therapists come to them.
Physical therapists will move patients’ limbs around while the patients are in bed. Once the patients can respond, therapists will add resistance-type exercises and activities.
The physical therapists even treat patients in the hospital’s intensive care unit, as was the case with 1st Lt. Greg Carey, who received a head injury in early August while serving in Iraq.
Paulson dubbed Carey his “star pupil” because Carey was able to get out of bed and stand up during his stay in the ICU.
A day after Carey had been transferred out of the ICU, Paulson conducted another physical therapy session with the wounded troop.
Carey stood up, shuffled back and forth, and performed some balance and resistance drills with Paulson.
“It’s certainly a workout,” said Carey, whose eyes were swollen shut as a result of his injury.
“It’s helping me move around. It’s good.”
In addition to physical therapy, Paulson provides a morale boost for the wounded troops.
“Every time I talk to the soldiers I call them heroes,” he said. “They say, ‘No sir, I was just doing my job,’ but they are heroes.”