James’ Story: How a combination of one2one therapies gave an ex-marine a new lease of life

Utilising a range of treatments in injury rehabilitation can deliver very real benefits for our one2one clients.

We often see clients experience relief from long term conditions – and sometimes the effects can be life-changing.

We first met James in 2010, a 63-year-old ex-marine who had suffered with chronic back pain for over 30 years.  

Client History

Up until his back became problematic, James was a fit Marine with a very active lifestyle.

James’ problems began in 1983 when he was in the Marines and had to carry heavy loads despite having rib fractures which he had sustained in a previous incident.

After this, James began to experience regular episodes of back pain which progressively became more severe and more frequent.

By 1993, James’ back pain and the associated spasms were so excruciating it would cause him to faint. The only way he could prevent the muscle spasms and fainting episodes was to keep his back as still as possible and walk with crutches. It was too painful to sit or bend – so James spent most of his time either standing or lying down.

James was unable to do the things many of us take for granted.  He was unable to drive, sit to eat a meal, work at a computer, go to the cinema and so on, making normal life virtually impossible.

James was reliant on other people to drive him whilst he lay down in the back of the car, putting a mattress in the back of a people carrier so he could be transported to where he needed to be.   The people carrier became his place of rest, he would go and lie down in it during the day which enabled him to carry on working.  

The spasms James experienced were immediately debilitating and urgent, and if he was in a public place and his back was about to go into spasm, he would have to lie on the floor. It didn’t matter where he was, in the street or in the supermarket, James would have to immediately lie down.

By 1999, James had finally found a way to manage his symptoms through weekly physiotherapy, osteopathy and massage treatments and taking a lot of medication for his pain. He even had several botox injections into the muscles in his back to stop the muscle spasms.

This combination enabled James to walk without crutches but he still could not bend or move his back properly.  As a result, James spent between 8 and 10 hours of his waking day lying down, usually in front of a fire to keep his back warm to release the muscle spasms.

James’ first visit to one2one therapy

When James first came to visit us, he had booked an appointment for sports massage.

James was unable to sit so he had to lay on the floor in reception whilst he waited for his appointment. It was clear this was a very disabling condition.

James had tried to do back exercises prescribed by his previous therapists but found they would aggravate his back. Over the years, he explained he had stopped doing them because they worsened his symptoms.

It was immediately clear to the one2one team that James knew his back inside and out and he understood his limitations and what would best help manage his symptoms.

James had accepted that his life was limited by his back disability and the active life he once had was now gone.  James was clear that all he wanted from us was regular sports massage to relieve his muscle spasms – so that’s what we did.

New Vimove technology delivers new treatment options

One2one therapy are always looking to invest in equipment and technology to assist our clients.  In 2015, we invested in Vimove technology, which uses sensors to assess and analyse body movement.

Having worked with James for so long, we felt he would be a good candidate for this.

We asked James to be our ‘guinea pig’ for the back module and James kindly agreed – and finally, whilst using the Vimove sensors, James experienced a breakthrough.

The Vimove sensors enabled James to visualise on a screen how little movement he had in his lower back due to the pain and muscle spasms. Over the years the inability to move his lower back caused inactivity and weakness of his core muscles which in turn exacerbated his symptoms. These core muscles are essential in maintaining posture and for alignment of the spine during movement.  When these muscles become inactive, they stop supporting the spine putting extra strain on the back extensor muscles causing them to tighten and go into spasm.

These core muscles needed to be retrained and ‘woken up’. Over several weeks, James attended the clinic twice weekly to use the Vimove sensors to guide him through a series of core exercises. With the help of this fantastic technology, James was able to activate his core muscles once again and bend his back for the first time in years!

James states:

‘Prior to using Vimove, my treatment had been purely palliative for the last 20 years. The Vimove showed me things that X-Rays, MRI scans and physical examinations couldn’t. It finally solved the puzzle of why some exercises and treatment which should have previously helped, didn’t. For me, it really was like turning the light on after years of groping in the dark’.

Ongoing support delivers further improvements

James undergoing a one to one Pilates session with Tina

Whilst the ability to move his back delivered life-changing benefits for James, enabling him to engage and activate his back muscles, the next step was to strengthen these weakened muscles to achieve further progress.

The one2one team referred James to Tina, our Pilates Instructor. James underwent weekly individual sessions with Tina whilst continuing his physiotherapy and sports massage treatments.

The combined treatments worked to strengthen his core muscles, enabling James to become more active.  However, his activities were still limited at this point because of the general muscle wastage from years of inactivity.

At this point we suggested to James that we introduce Compex into his rehabilitation. Compex is a muscle stimulator which activates and strengthens muscles. We used the Compex to contract muscles in his lower limbs whilst he carried out various exercises such as squats and calf raises. This enabled James to strengthen his muscles much quicker than doing the exercises alone.

We are pleased to report that the combination of Sports Massage, Physiotherapy, Vimove, Pilates and Compex has now given James a new lease of life and he continues to progress.

James can now sit for up to an hour at a time, he only lies down for approximately 3 hours a day, he doesn’t take medication and in December 2018, the former marine enjoyed his first treadmill run.

Client receives Sports Massage, Physiotherapy, ViMove, Compex and Pilates at Bridgend-based one2one therapy
Thanks to a combination of one2one therapies, James’ life is now back on track – here he is enjoying his first run on the treadmill in years!

It’s the type of result that really motivates the one2one team – and importantly for James, it’s enabled him to get his life back on track.

We never imagined that James would be running again when we saw him on that first appointment. It just goes to show how adaptable the human body is when you give it the right support and stimulus.