If Physiotherapists Treated Superheroes

I am not sure what topics you discuss over coffee on a Sunday morning, but I wonder if they are as interesting as the one I had recently with my son? We were just chatting about general this and that when he asked me why aren’t there any physiotherapists on Star Trek? This was then followed by a stream of questions like what would Batman’s Physio requirements be all the way through to how physiotherapy must have helped Luke Skywalker after he lost his hand in Star Wars? Reasonable reasonings you say from a son to his mother? Maybe but my son is 28 and he was deadly serious, so we spent the next hour or so discussing the physiotherapy needs of the world’s superheroes! This is not something that I wanted to keep to myself, so I am sharing it with you. Below is a summary of our interesting Sunday morning ‘let’s help the superheroes in their quest to save the world’ conversation with links to Physiopedia pages.

Welcome to the Physiotherapy Clinic of Superheroes!

Spiderman is forever spinning those webs to catch villains and swinging from building to building so it is no surprise his primary complaint is Carpal Tunnel Syndrome. The constant flicking movement of the wrist into extension as he fires his webs to rid the city of villains would definitely take its toll. He is complaining of pain, numbness, weakness in the hand, and feels he is clumsy and is missing his target when firing at buildings and villains. These are definitely symptoms of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome.

Superman who is faster than a speeding bullet, more powerful than a locomotive who can leap buildings in a single bound! Now, where do we start with Superman? His main complaint is Adhesive Capsulitis which he is finding so restricting when striking his ‘ready for action pose’ but he has also been feeling some twinges in his knee which when he consulted google he thought might be Patellar Tendinopathy (we all have those clients that come in quoting Dr Google).

Next, is Batman accompanied by Robin. Batman is complaining of shoulder pain and lack of movement on examination the shoulder appears to have dropped and the definition of the head of the humerus is absent, first impressions scream Shoulder Dislocation, probably caused by all those bams, whams and kapows. Robin on the other hand is complaining of pain to the front of his knee which worsens on activity, but is even present when going up and down the stairs. He doesn’t remember injuring the knee, but there is a particularly painful spot close to the tibial tubercle, but he did say that he has been busier than usual lately helping Batman fend off evil villains. Could this be a case of Osgood Schlatter’s Disease, a common overuse injury in children and adolescents?

Thor is sitting quietly in the corner nursing a sore elbow. It started a few days after his last movie Ragnarock; he rested for a few weeks and it improved. Unfortunately every time he returns to work it comes back but resolves with rest. This episode, however, following a recent bout with Hela is not easing and he is finding it difficult even picking up a pen to write. It does seem that all that swinging and smashing Mjölnir (his trusty hammer) around has caused Lateral Epicondylitis (Tennis Elbow).

One more client, Wolverine. He is worried because a few his claws are ‘sticking’. It doesn’t happen every time but every now and again it is like they get stuck and then snap into place. Who would have thought a superhero could get Trigger Finger.

But wait the waiting room is not empty. Sitting alone and looking lost is Ironman wearing a neck collar. He says that he recently visited his doctor who diagnosed his neck pain as Whiplash and prescribed a neck collar, but he does not seem to feel any better. The first mission is to convince him to abandon the neck collar and focus on exercise and keep moving. He is fine with that but is asking for electrotherapy to manage his pain. The hardest task of all is to explain that the use of electrotherapy for whiplash has very little evidence to support its efficacy and besides that the fact he has a pacemaker the use of electrotherapy is contraindicated. This session requires less hands-on and more education and advice. The key to whiplash rehabilitation and a speedy recovery is stretching and strengthening exercises.

Oh and just one more! As the clinic door is about to close in limps the Flash, his distress is so apparent. For the past two days, he has lost his ability to sprint. He remembers feeling a pull and hearing a pop but was still able to run but he woke up the next day with excruciating pain in his right hamstring. On examination there is a huge bruise and muscle deformity; common signs of a Hamstring Strain.

So that was my morning with my son. If my phone hadn’t rung the conversation probably would have gone on until we had treated the whole of the superhero world. I feel so exhausted after all that treatment that I am heading to the sofa to put my feet up and rest.