She sits, posture-perfect, back straight, shoulders even, hands moving.
In true educator fashion, he speaks as if she were strongly making a point while addressing a group of knowledge-thirsty students.
Genuine and ever-so-sincere with her thoughts, she turns emotional when sharing terms like “Godsends,’’ Magic Fairies,’’ and “Angels,’’ in describing the two dedicated and compassionate physical therapists sitting before her.
Despite being an upbeat, eternal optimist, there has been occasion the past two-plus decades when Linda Slusher, a 24-karat nugget of kindness and grace, wondered if she and pain would spend the rest of her days together.
“Then my primary doctor said to go to Rock Valley Physical Therapy, and mind you, I have seen many, many, other people, so many other (physical) therapists through the years,’’ said Slusher, the victim of two car accidents over the past two-plus decades, both leading to lengthy struggles with chronic migraines, neck and back pain and paresthesia (numbness and burning sensation down one’s arm and into the hand).
“I had been everywhere – all the way to the Mayo Clinic – and tried many things, but everything changed with Rock Valley and Emily and Emma,’’ she added. “Nobody has done what they have done. I mean, massive football-player types could not help me, but that changed with these two.’’
The Emily and Emma Slusher spoke so glowingly about are the dynamic duo of Emily Pospischil, PT, DPT, OCT, ATC/L, Clinic Manager/Cedar Rapids, Iowa, PCI 29th St., and Emma LeClaire, PT, DPT, CCVT, LSVT-BIG, Clinic Manager/Cedar Rapids – PCI Vestibular Therapy.
The two Rock Valley Physical Therapy stalwarts have combined – over several months – to change Slusher’s life.
For the better.
“Nooby has done for me what they have done,’’ Sluhser said with a smile, pointing toward the two therapists. “I have never had somebody give me relief for what I have dealt with.’’
In January of 2023, at the urging of her doctor, Slusher turned first to Pospischil for assistance. There, benefitting from a series of strengthening and mobility exercises and a concentration of retraining muscles, the tide began to turn for the longtime educator and native of Iowa’s northeast corridor.
“Yes, dedicated to the plan,’’ said Pospischil, who earned her undergraduate degree from Indiana Wesleyan University in Athletic Training and received her Doctorate of Physical Therapy from St. Ambrose University, of Slusher. “She wanted to find relief and we felt we could help. I’ve been most impressed by Linda’s positive attitude. She has not been blessed with something easy to deal with but her devotion to working to get better is amazing. It’s a process, but give Linda credit for her dedication to getting better. She is great to work with.’’
In addition to Pospischil’s strength-building and mobility work, Slusher has found pain relief through LeClaire’s soft tissue work, her dedication to improving Slusher’s posture, and LeClaire’s ever-so keen ability to dry needle pain-occupied areas.
“You want to make a difference for Linda because of all she has dealt with,’’ said LeClaire, who earned her undergraduate degree from the University of Minnesota and her Doctorate of Physical Therapy degree from St. Ambrose University. “There is still work to be done, but it’s great to be able to provide relief for her. It helps that she is determined to get better and great to be around.’’
Between the caring, dedicated and compassionate work of Pospischil and LeClaire – and Slusher dedicating herself to prescribed exercises designed specifically for her by the pair – Slusher’s life is truly on the upswing.
“I was running behind (on the day she shared her story), because I was diligently going through my exercises,’’ Slusher said. “I even find myself doing them when I am walking my dog or lying in bed.
“The relief I have from the pain in my back, neck and arms, has made the migraine issue much more tolerable,’’ added Slusher. “I still have issues because of nerve damage in my neck, but it’s nothing like it was. Yes they pop up – motivated by barometric-pressure changes – but I can deal with the occasional migraine because the rest of my body is functioning so much better.’’
Through it all, a simple, take-for-granted task, has brought Slusher the greatest amount of joy and satisfaction.
“Simply raising my head up and lowering my head (looking down),’’ she said. “Those are things I could not do for the longest time. It was like I had rocks in my back. Along with many other life-changing things, I can now raise my head up and down without constant pain. They gave me something back in the neck that hasn’t been there in a long time. They have given me my life back.’’
By: Johnny Marx, Storyteller