Physical Therapy Patients Use Rodeo to Rehabilitate

Every year thousands of people visit the rodeo to experience the aura of the Texas west. But some people visit the rodeo as part of their physical rehabiliation. Houston Public Radio’s Laurie Johnson has more.

Even in the middle of the day the livestock and exhibit halls are noisy and crowded. It’s not the kind of place you’d expect to find a group of physical therapy patients. Physical Therapist Amy Ayalloore is with the Harris County Hospital District. She says she brings her patients here because it’s such a challenging environment.

“The everyday thing of rehab can get kind of boring or just mundane for these patients so anything that we can do to get them in a real-world environment to practice. It’s a community integration activity for them to practice these kinds of activities — walking, getting in and out of a car, the van, ramps, being around other people. It’s just a way to get them to prepare for what it’s going to be like when they actually go home.”

Betty Harris is recovering from knee replacement surgery. She gets to go home next week. But right now she’s pushing herself to make it through the crowds and lines. Her therapist asked her if she wanted a wheel chair, but Harris says she wants to walk on her own.

“It’s been very challenging because I’ve been relying on my left side instead of the right side and it’s like I have to get my mind programmed to rehabilitate myself on using the right more than the left and bending my knee more. But other than that, a lot of things — I’ve accomplished a lot between the time that I’ve been in the hospital.”

Harris is using a walker to help her get around. Even so, the rodeo grounds are huge and can be tiring for the patients to navigate. But Harris says there’s no way she would miss out on this part of her therapy.

“I love Texas and I’m a Texan girl! Last year I was at the cook-off and I enjoyed it. And I was just laying in the bed last week and I was saying to myself ‘oh I’m going to miss the rodeo today’ but I had a chance to come and enjoy myself.”

Laurie Johnson. Houston Public Radio News.

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Laurie Johnson

Laurie Johnson

Executive Producer for News

Laurie Johnson leads daily news coverage for HPM. She helps reporters craft and sharpen their stories on tight deadlines, with the aim of getting the most relevant and current information into local newscasts. Laurie is a native Houstonian who started her career at Houston Public Media in 2002. She is...

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