Physical Therapy in the time of COVID: One Rebound Patient’s Story

When low back pain prevented Sara Evans from bending over to tie her shoes late last fall, she knew it was time to give physical therapy a try. 

Evans, a Bend resident and mother of four school-aged children, suffered from a herniated disc that initially left her with debilitating back pain. Evans said her back “slowly loosened up” after a few days. But she said it wasn’t until attending physical therapy the following week that her back began to feel better. 

During her sessions with physical therapist Matt Braga at Rebound’s East Bend clinic, Evans worked on regaining movement in her spine and strengthening her back and abdominal muscles. 

Evans said her back was steadily improving through regular therapy sessions and home exercises when concerns related to the spread of COVID-19 surfaced in mid-March. 

At first, she was hesitant about coming into the clinic for physical therapy. “I wondered if I should cancel my appointment,’” she said. “But then I thought, ‘It’s more important for my mental and physical state to make sure I’m healthy to take care of everybody else in my family.’”

When Evans walked in for her visit in March, she said she was relieved to see a sign asking all patients to wash their hands and hardly anyone sitting in the waiting area. 

Currently, all Rebound staff wear masks and strongly encourage all patients to wear one as well. And employees are diligent about wiping down machines and treatment tables frequently. 

 “They were doing a really good job of cleaning everything,” said Evans of Rebound staff members during her visit. “I wasn’t worried (about sanitation) at all.”

While telehealth physical therapy offers an alternative to in-person therapy sessions, some patients like Evans view clinic visits as invaluable — including access to specialized exercise equipment. “I don’t have tools like the Pilates reformer machine at home.” 

After several months of physical therapy, Evans has returned to physical activities she loves, including weekly Pilates classes at a local studio.

“My back is doing much better now,” she said.