Exercise replaces surgery after a fall

October 17, 2012

About three years ago retired art teacher Janet Abis had a fall, got concussion and broke a vertebra. Her eleventh thoracic vertebra is missing. She was advised to have a metal plate in her back and was put on a waiting list for an operation: “I have osteoporosis so falls are bad for me as it’s easier for me to crack a bone. 

“I thought I’d have to start using a walking stick. My posture was slumped and I was scared to walk.” In the meantime Janet’s GP advised her to give exercise a go: “I wasn’t able to do anything that first year. Prior to my fall I felt about 50 (I was 71) but afterwards I felt about 90! Then I Googled Pilates in Chiswick and that’s how I found Vanessa.”

Feeling good is about keeping activeVanessa discussed the accident, situation, age and general health with Janet, who found it difficult to get going again at first: “Everything she has done with me has built up my strength, confidence and balance. I have been having a private class with Vanessa for about a year now and I’ve built up to intermediate level. She is caring and thoughtful and introduces something new to my session each week so I never get bored.

Vanessa is inspirational. At first her support was quite physical with lots of hand-holding, but as I’ve grown stronger and more confident, she just has to be nearby for me to feel the benefit. So now it is psychological support really.”

Janet attends an osteoporosis clinic and follows the Alexander Technique, which also helps with posture. As well as Pilates, she enjoy painting, swimming, gardening and walking: “I found that I didn’t need the metal plate in the end – the exercise replaced the surgery. I’m now 74 and can honestly say that feeling good is all about keeping active.” 

Janet Abis, retired art teacher, Hammersmith

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