Annemarie Duncan always led an active lifestyle, from golfing and gardening to joining her grandchildren on the trampoline. But more recently, severe back pain related to double scoliosis, spinal stenosis, arthritis, and bulging disks put many of her activities on hold. Last year, the 68-year-old Freehold resident traveled to Philadelphia to undergo a complex surgery that left her with a cage, a rod, spikes, and screws supporting her spine – and a strong desire to reclaim her life.
“I was ready to do whatever was needed to get moving again,” she recalls. “A positive attitude is half the battle.”
Gaining Strength in the Water
Still in pain from surgery and using a cane, Annemarie underwent an evaluation with Risheeta Joshi, PT, DPT, physical therapist at OceanFirst Rehabilitation Center at CentraState. Because Annemarie had lost the use of the muscles surrounding her spine, the first step was aquatic therapy.
“In water, patients can move in ways they can’t tolerate on land,” explains Joshi. “With our guidance, they can activate the right muscles without even realizing it.”
Shortly after beginning regular aquatic therapy sessions with the in-pool assistance of Amy Ferentino, PTA, Annemarie no longer needed a cane or pain medications.
“I couldn’t believe how much it helped me,” says Annemarie. “It felt amazing, and Amy made it fun by incorporating ballet movements.”
Realignment for the Body
When Annemarie was ready for therapy beyond the water, her rehabilitation program included a progressive series of exercises from CentraState’s new Posture for Life program. Designed to decompress the spine, activate core muscles, and restore alignment, these exercises are done while lying on the back in a supported position.
“It’s a simple approach that can correct years of compensation due to injury or poor posture,” says Joshi. “When performed for 5 to 15 minutes several times daily, the positive effects for the body and mind can last a lifetime.”
“Through physical therapy, I relearned the correct way to hold and move my body,” adds Annemarie. “By putting in the work, it became second nature one day – it was like an epiphany.”
Annemarie recently returned to the golf course to practice hitting balls for the first time in seven years. She walks up to four miles a day, teaches knitting and crocheting classes, helps care for her grandchildren, and hosts frequent dinners with extended family.
“This has been such a wonderful, healing journey,” she says. “Despite the pain, I’d do it all over again. My therapists were amazing, and I’ll use these tools for the rest of my life.”
For more information about rehabilitation services or Posture for Life, visit centrastate.com or call 866-CENTRA7 (866-236-8727). To learn about bone density screenings to check for osteoporosis or osteopenia, call CentraState’s Star and Barry Tobias Health Awareness Center at 732-308-0570.