AlterG Announces 2015 Physical Therapist of the Month

Holy moly, it’s November 23rd! With the temperatures turning decidedly crisper than our soon-to-be botched Thanksgiving turkeys, it is time, yet again, for an update from your AlterG family. We are please to announce that we have (finally) completed the extremely difficult task of selecting a winner for our annual “PT of the Month” contest. After pouring through each and every riveting, impassioned narrative, we have decided that Louis “Key West Lou” Petrone and his PT, Jenny Shelley, of Body Owners Physical Therapy and Wellness Center are this year’s champions!

Body Owners is a therapist-owned outpatient physical therapy clinic, with a special focus on the rehabilitation of orthopedic injuries and chronic conditions. Their treatment philosophy is twofold; focusing first on proper assessment and following up with hands-on treatment. They start by identifying any physical dysfunctions that may be causing a patient’s symptoms, then attack those dysfunctions through a variety of therapeutic techniques, including neuromuscular reeducation, rehabilitative exercise, and biomechanical correction. Their number one goal is to get patients happy and healthy, and to keep them that way!

Lou and Jenny are certainly a shining example of the type of transformative therapy that Body Owners delivers to their patients. Check out Lou’s gripping story of volcanoes and victories below. Warning: only read if you are prepared to be seriously inspired!

Jenny and Louis Petrone’s Story

I am 80 years old. Do not look it yet. For real. Feel it sometimes, however.

Some thirty years ago, I stopped doing exercise of any kind. Walking, jogging. Cut back on golf. Became an eater and drinker. My body responded. Fifty plus pounds.

The road to hell is paved with good intentions. I tried to exercise over the years, cut back on the food and alcohol. Never lasted. Became big and uncomfortable.

I did not realize till three years ago how unhealthy I had become. I was on the Greek isle of Santorini. I had been there several times before. Santorini one of the most beautiful places in the world.

Santorini experienced an enormous volcanic eruption some 1,500 years before the birth of Christ. Split Santorini into several islands. A volcanic caldera.

I stay in a tiny town callled Oia. On the side of the island where the volcanic split occurred. A side of a mountain straight up. Some 2,000 feet. Several miles to the front out on the water sits another of the split off islands. The volcano itself. Still active.

I stay in a cave apartment some 1,500 feet up facing the volcano. A hole in the side of the cliff. Magnificent inside. All modern conveniences. A single door in front for ingress and egress.

In front of the door, an abutment about 10 feet out. Part of the mountainside. My little terrace with a small umbrella table and chairs. Nothing before me as I sit there but a magnificent water view and the volcano.

I decided two years ago that I would like to climb to the top of the volcano. I wanted to look down into the volcano itself.

There was a boat tour available. I signed up for it. There were about sixty of us and a guide.

The volcano up close looked much different than from several miles away. It is a mountain of black jotted rock. Actually, hardened lava. Reminded me of a huge piece of coal.

It was also taller than I thought. The top was in the clouds.

Our guide said follow me. I got right up in front. I wanted to be one of the first on top so I would have an excellent viewing spot to look into the mouth of the volcano.

The path up was narrow. At most, room for two or three side by side going up. Sometimes, only one. Imposing black pointed huge pieces of lava all around.

At the beginning of the climb, I was first. Soon, I was in the middle of the sixty. A while later, at the end. Then, I was part of the stragglers. Then, I was the last straggler. A while later when I looked up again, the nearest person to me in the climb was six inches tall.

I was dying. Physically and mentally. I said screw it! I was too tired. Exhausted. Sat on a rock trying to rest up for the trip down. The trip back to the boat was harder than the trip up.

I obviously never made it to the top. Never got to look into the volcano.

The experience brought to my attention that I really was out of shape. I tried to improve my overall condition during the almost two years following my return. I could not stay with it. Maybe I did not want to get back into shape.

Six months ago, I started falling. A balance problem. I was sent to physiotherapy. Body Owners Physical Therapy And Wellness Center. I had to learn how to walk again.

Part of my outpatient physical therapy was on the Anti-Gravity Treadmill™. Twice a week, 15 minutes each time. I became impressed with the machine. Its design permitted me to walk fast and not get tired while doing it. I must admit however that when I got off the machine, I was suddenly very tired.

My physiotherapy ended. I have continued with the Anti-Gravity Treadmill however at my own cost. I went from 15 minutes twice a week to a half hour each time. Then moved it to three times a week. I am now at 4 times a week. By around Thanksgiving, I expect to graduate to five times a week.

I increase the speed and gravity periodically. Never any huffing and puffing. Just the tiredness afterwards.

I plan on continuing with the machine. It has got me back to walking/speed walking. I feel better. I have thinned a bit. Cut back on food and drink without trying. The machine is saving my life!

My goal is to return to Santorini next summer. To confront the volcano. This time to succeed in climbing it. There is no question in my mind that I will be able to do so.

Body Owners does a great job overall. My physiotherapist is Jenny Shelley. She has worked to bring me to where I am physically. She took me by the hand and made it work for me.

-Louis Petrone aka “Key West Lou”
Exercise Tech – Jenny Shelley at Body Owners Physical Therapy, Key West, FL

When reached for comment, Jenny Shelley described her involvement in Lou’s fitness journey:

“I was his Exercise Tech and worked with him each visit on his exercises; focusing primarily on posture awareness, balance, and increased range of motion. While he was in the AlterG I provided gait tips that had him focus on picking his feet up and taking larger steps. When Lou first came to therapy, he was very deconditioned and had to learn diaphragmatic breathing and the benefits of it when walking in the AlterG. His story of climbing the active volcano in the Greek Isle of Sanitori really inspired us all here at Body Owners and we can’t wait to hear about his success next year when he goes to tackle the hike to the top of volcano again.”

Final Thoughts from AlterG

I could write until my fingers bleed about all the submissions we received and how pumped up we were by each tale of adversity overcome, courtesy of that classic, winning combination of stellar PT work and patient grit. In the interest of brevity, however (and also my poor, innocent fingertips) we will be staggering our enthusiasm, highlighting a couple of stories at a time in each blog post. You know how your mom always told you not to eat your ice cream too fast or you’ll get brainfreeze? Yeah, it’s kind of like that with this contest; you guys gave us so much deliciously well-written ice cream to chow down on that we might just spontaneously combust with joy (and lactose) if we’re not careful. All this is to say I better wrap up this particular post before my enthusiasm gets the best of me and I dive into another scoop of PT awesomeness. Stay tuned for the next exciting chapter to be featured here, on the blog; now someone come pry this spoon from my hand before I do something dangerous…