James story: How multiple therapies combined to give an ex-marine a new lease of life

Rhian Davies, Physiotherapist and Clinic Director of one2one Therapies in Bridgend, South Wales shares how a client’s life has been transformed thanks to a multi-disciplinary treatment approach

One of the benefits of running a multi-disciplinary therapy centre is being able to offer clients a combination of therapies to help in their rehabilitation, which is something harder to achieve via the traditional NHS route.  We often see clients experience relief from long term conditions – and sometimes the effects can be life-changing.  I’m delighted to share James’ story which illustrates this perfectly.

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 our Bridgend clinic, 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 helped James visualise and feel how he was moving his back and realised that he’d been moving it incorrectly.  Using the technology alongside the help of the one2one physiotherapy team, James was able to bend his back for the first time in years!

Ongoing support delivers further improvements

James benefited from Sports Massage, Physiotherapy, ViMove, Pilates and Compex treatments during his recovery

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.

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 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.

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.

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.


About the author

Rhian Davies is a Chartered Physiotherapist and Clinic Director of one2one therapy in Bridgend, South Wales, which she set up in 2004.  The clinic offers a wide variety of treatments, therapies, exercise classes and mind-body activities.  Rhian has a passion for healthcare and continues to write and share articles, making a wider contribution to the wellbeing community.