matt cummings hand

OT Turns “Unforgiving” Elbow Injury into A Full Recovery

At a time when most people are celebrating the holidays and looking forward to the start of a new year, Margaret Murray was facing the aftermath of a fall and broken elbow that required surgery to put in titanium plates in December 2019.

When the occupational therapy provider Margaret was seeing stopped taking her Medicare Advantage plan at the beginning 2020, Margaret switched to ARC Physical Therapy+ and never looked back.

matt cummings independenceMargaret began working with Matt Cummings, OT/CHT, Director of the Lee’s Summit and Independence clinics and OT Fellowship Coordinator. She was very impressed with the facility and how friendly the team was, but her initial progress was slow.

Elbows are one of the most difficult joints to rehabilitate. The capsules around the elbow can tighten and are difficult to loosen because there is only one plane of motion to address, versus a joint like the shoulder which has three.

“Elbows can be unforgiving if small details aren’t attended to regularly,” Matt said. “The elbow is also one joint in the body that tends to develop a flexion contracture, preventing full extension. I told Margaret from the beginning that although she had a significant amount of flexion deficit, we would need to be diligent about maintaining full extension, and she did so perfectly.”

Margaret stuck with the program Matt laid out, and after a couple of months, she began seeing big changes.

“The key to good physical therapy is one, to have a good therapist, and two, to work hard,” Margaret said. “I knew I really had to work. Matt designed a program I could do at home even without equipment, and I did my exercises three times a day at home for an hour each time.”

Matt enjoyed working with Margaret because she loved learning about the underlying science of the program and how it was designed specifically to help her recover.

“Margaret ‘bought in’ to our process from the beginning and even more so when her compliance was rewarded with great progress,” Matt said. “She would not have achieved the great outcome she did without being diligent about performing her home exercises. She often asked if there was more to do to ensure she was achieving all she could.”

Unfortunately, Margaret had to undergo a second surgery in July after developing cubital tunnel syndrome, which is the compression of the ulnar nerve in the cubital tunnel. This can sometimes occur from the initial fracture/injury, or develop over time from scar tissue that forms around the injury site.

“We noticed symptoms of this throughout Margaret’s initial healing process, and when rest and nerve glides did not dissipate symptoms, she required the second procedure to free up the nerve,” Matt said.

Margaret was really worried when she found out that she needed the second surgery, but she began diligently working with Matt again and her second round of rehab was significantly easier than her first.

“Thanks to the base we had built prior to the surgery, my progress went really fast,” Margaret said.

Margaret was able to regain full use of her arm and elbow, and even her surgeon was impressed with her results.

“I’m extremely happy with my recovery,” Margaret said. “When I showed my surgeon how far I can bend my elbow, he was so pleased.”

Margaret attributes much of her success to Matt’s encouragement.

“After all that time together, I felt that I got to know Matt as a person,” Margaret said. “I couldn’t ask for anyone to be more kind, and he is the same every day, never showing up in a bad mood and always patient. He made a big deal when I made big advancements and was always calm and supportive.”

Even though much of Margaret’s therapy took place during the COVID-19 pandemic, she said she always felt safe going to therapy.

“Everyone wears masks and they checked my temperature every day,” Margaret said. “They were very good about disinfecting everything after every single person. I felt that they were taking patient safety very seriously and I never felt worried about going there.”

Matt is proud of what Margaret accomplished and how hard she worked to get there.

“Margaret was a pleasure to work with and thoughtful about discussing all aspects of her case throughout the process,” Matt said. “I felt that she trusted me to do everything that would help her achieve her best outcome. I’m overjoyed that Margaret conquered every challenge I put in front of her, and she accomplished exactly what I knew she could.”

Although her road to recovery started out with some bumps, Margaret is ultimately grateful that her insurance situation guided her to ARC Physical Therapy+.

“I’m extremely thankful that they took my plan, and I would recommend them to anybody,” Margaret emphasized. “If you have to have physical therapy you should go to ARC Physical Therapy+.”

Contact Us to Learn More About Our OT Offering

Contact ARC Physical Therapy+ at 844-755-4272 or to learn more or schedule an occupational therapy appointment.

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