I broke my neck on June 30, 2017 while teaching my boys how to play baseball. In fact, I was in a foot race with my oldest, showing him how it’s done. Unfortunately, we were running down a hill, and I completely lost control. I ended up doing the Scooby shuffle and head-butting my backdoor door frame. It was then that I broke my neck.
To this date, I have spent 3 months in a neck brace, 3 months out of a neck brace, and an additional 3 months in physical therapy. If I had it to do over again, I would start physical therapy immediately after I was released from the neck brace. (My doctor, however, had other ideas and wouldn’t give me a script for physical therapy.)
Along the way, I’ve gathered lots of knowledge. I’ve written about 10 things to avoid while wearing a neck brace, 5 tips for sleeping with a broken neck, and how to modify workouts when you’re injured to name a few. In my opinion, one of the most important parts of any injury recovery is that you respect the progress.
Respect the Progress
I know that this can be very challenging. In my case, I sat around for about 3 months with a cervical immobilizer just waiting for my neck to heal. Then, when I got released, I was scared to death to take my immobilizer off. That’s such a shift of thought! I struggled.
The day before I was cleared to take off my collar, it was a life-saving device that was keeping me from death or paralysis. Then, the next day, I was supposed to start wearing it less and less so that I wouldn’t use it after a week or two. That’s crazy to be so dependent on something and then turn around and give it the boot!
However, you have to understand that while you were healing, your body was preparing you to be less and less dependent on your cervical collar. Without even knowing it, your body was preparing for this moment. So, the trick is to get your brain caught up with your body.
As with anything difficult, you just take a deep breath and move forward. In this case, it meant taking off my collar. Once I did that, my next hurdle was to start physical therapy.
Where Am I Now?
Since I began physical therapy, I’ve gotten to feel my neck change in so many great ways. I have moved fully through the guarded and concerned phase. Now, I sometimes even forget that I even broke my neck.
It’s the occasional tight muscle or limited movement that keeps me aware that I’m still in the healing process. However, I feel like I’m at a really great point in my recovery.
Right now, I am in a sweet spot. I still feel gains in strength and stability from my exercises and relief from the massages that I receive at physical therapy. I’m doing so well that I only have therapy every other week.
I’ve come so far! My head turns all the way to the left with only minor strain. It’s not quite as nice when I turn to the right, but I know that my range of motion has increased so greatly. Similarly, my neck moves like it should when I look down, but it struggles a little when I look up.
When I look at where I am now versus where I was just a couple months ago, I can’t help but be elated. At the beginning of physical therapy, my primary goal was to not be in pain every day. (They fixed that after our first session.) My secondary goal was to regain mobility in my neck, and that’s what we’re still working on.
So, whenever I’m doing physical therapy (either on my own or at their center), I take a moment to appreciate where I was a few months ago versus where I am today. With nothing but hope and gratitude, I move forward and try to strengthen myself. Maybe some day I won’t need to take the time and appreciate all the progress that I’ve made on this journey, but today isn’t that day. Today, I choose gratitude.
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