Getting back on track
Suwanee clinic helps patients to rehabilitate

SUWANEE - Lynn Durham of Suwanee never thought she'd have a use for rehab, but after an accident landed her in unbearable pain, she said she doesn't know how she would have ever started her recovery without it.

Durham, 59, said her doctor referred her to a rehabilitation therapy clinic about two months ago after she injured both her shoulders.

"I'm stubborn and I was trying to move a riding lawn mower up an incline without asking anyone for help," Durham said. "Afterward, I couldn't move my arms. I couldn't even sleep on my side, it hurt so bad."

Durham said her miracle drug of sorts has been her time at Primacare Rehabilitation in Suwanee. Through weeks of slow and controlled exercise, Durham said she's finally starting to feel like she's getting back to normal.

"She had a rotator cuff strain," said Dr. Ram Shahani, a board-certified orthopedic physical therapist and owner of Primacare. "So we had to strengthen those muscles."

Shahani said he evaluates each of his patient's injuries before prescribing the right set of rehabilitation and exercises. During the first visit with a patient, doctors sit down and find out what the person's goals are, and if those goals are realistic. Much like a nutritional or other wellness plan, Shahani said the remedy differs with each and every patient.

"It all depends on the patient and the severity of the injury," Shahani said. "If it's severe back or neck pain, I usually focus on postural training - how to sit correctly. Sometimes we'll also do electrical stimulation and sometimes heat or ice packs."

Shahani said he often sees patients, like Durham, who have muscle injuries - a strain or a sprain - as well as patients who have been injured on the job, who have tendon injuries or who suffer from weakness or balance problems.

Although it differs with each case, Shahani said most rehab programs he prescribes require about three to five weeks of therapy.

Apollone Reid, a physical therapist at Primacare, often helps Shahani administer electrical stimulation and water ultrasound therapy at the rehab center. In addition to her work there, Reid also makes house calls throughout Gwinnett.

"I'll visit those who are acutely ill who have just been discharged from the hospital, and I get them ready and strong enough to get them to come in (to the rehab clinic)," Reid said.

Don Anderson, 76, who has suffered from congestive heart failure and strokes, visits the rehab office three times a week for help with posture, weakness and balance. They can all be aggravated by his conditions.

"We're trying to keep him out of a wheelchair," said Linda Anderson, Don's wife. "And they're doing a great job here. He's feeling quite a bit better."

Shahani said his practice prides itself on the variety of equipment and rehabilitation programs offered.

In addition to the electrical stimulation, free weight and machine exercises, Shahani uses ultrasound and water therapy.

"The ultrasound emits high-frequency sound waves, which reduces swelling, increases circulation and reduces scarring. It can also break up soft bone from conditions like bone spurs," Reid said.

On Tuesday and Thursday afternoons, you'll find Shahini's patients undergoing water therapy at the Collins Hill Aquatic Center in Lawrenceville. He often prescribes it for patients who can't tolerate a lot of land-based activity, including those with severe arthritis, stroke patients and amputees. Patients are instructed through a number of movements and exercises.

"I'll usually do two days in the water and one day a week on land, here at the clinic," Shahani said.

Rehabilitation therapy has to be recommended by a primary care physician. Shahani said many insurance companies cover the therapy when it is deemed necessary for recovery.

"It can help everybody and anybody. I see athletes, people with arthritis, weakness and back and neck injuries," Shahani said. "The benefits are pain relief, functional improvement and better lifestyle."