I Couldn’t Walk at All

Marilyn's physical therapy story at Pella Regional

Marilyn Witter has had multiple sclerosis for many years and has worked through flare ups fairly well. Unfortunately, that changed when a friend of hers was diagnosed with cancer and died within the following month. She believes the stress of that situation led to an attack that left her in a wheelchair, unable to walk. 

Multiple sclerosis (MS) is a disease that affects the brain and spinal cord. Symptoms vary, because the location and severity of each attack can be different. Episodes can last for days, weeks, or months. These episodes alternate with periods of reduced or no symptoms.

“I don’t worry about the MS because there isn’t anything I can do about it,” said Marilyn, who was first diagnosed with the disease in the 1970s. 

Marilyn’s son suggested physical therapy and she was willing to try it. None of the specialists she had gone to had ever suggested physical therapy to help with her symptoms. “My kids are very good to me. I don’t always agree with them,” laughs Marilyn. “But they are great.”

When the physical therapist, Gary Elises, at Pella Regional’s Medical Clinic in Knoxville first met with Marilyn he told her he wasn’t sure he was going to be able to help. 

“You can’t imagine how good it feels to get up and move after all of this,” said Marilyn. “I couldn’t walk at all when I started physical therapy with Gary. I was in a wheelchair and my legs were numb. That’s happened before with my legs, but had never lasted this long.”

Marilyn works on the parallel bars for walking, a foam pad for balance and an obstacle course with objects that she needs to step over. These tasks, along with many others, are what have her walking again.

“Gary has been wonderful and kind,” said Marilyn. “He wants me to do it and works with me until I can. I have home exercises that go along with my therapy appointments and I do them faithfully. I use my walker all of the time now. I like to be up and moving and working my legs.”

Marilyn now recommends physical therapy at Knoxville Medical Clinic to her friends. “I told my neighbor that if he ever needs physical therapy that he needs to go here. There’s no reason to go anywhere else.”

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