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GLEANER 5K - Murphy grateful for UHWI Physiotherapy Department

Published:Thursday | September 4, 2014 | 12:00 AM
Theodore Murphy uses the pulley, one of the machines he used to regain the movement in his arms after a freak fire burned nearly 50 per cent of his body in 2012. - Gladstone Taylor/Photographer

It was supposed to be simple: light the lamp and prepare for bed. But for some reason on that night in late May 2012, Theodore Murphy's life changed, literally in a flash.

The lamp exploded (he still doesn't know why) and Murphy suffered second-degree burns to between 45 and 50 per cent of his body.

"The first physiotherapy I received (at the University Hospital of the West Indies Physio-therapy Depart-ment) was very painful because I had to be moving joints where there was exposed flesh," he recalled. "But the doctors kept on reminding me that even though it's very painful I have to go along with it."

The road to recovery was a tough one.

"It was a day-to-day thing, so I had to condition my mind for experiencing the uncomfortable situations," he said. "But gradually it was improving, because where I didn't have movement I started having little, to some." At first he couldn't even shake someone's hand much less bend his elbows; simple things able-bodied people take for granted. He praised the therapists, who also consulted with his doctors to ensure he had pain-control medication that would help his recovery.

"They kept on pushing me ... even when they were not there," he said. "They explained to me that the more I do the exercises they expect me to do, is the better results I would get." He is pretty certain he wouldn't be as active had he not persevered.

Murphy said that his mishap no longer placed any restrictions on his ability to do things, and that has been so since going through the physiotherapy. "Before, if I dropped a coin on the floor, I wouldn't be able to pick it up. If I was to stretch to reach something, where my range could normally take me, I couldn't because of the (lack of) extension of the shoulder and the elbow."

Injury

He pleads with persons to do their part in assisting the department, to supplement their resources. He feels this would help speed up the recovery of some patients. Speaking of recovery, he's currently doing sessions at the department again, as life has bowled him another bouncer. In May of this year, almost exactly two years to the day of the fire, his right leg was broken in a car accident.

"May is not my month," he laughed. "I was standing beside my friend's car, waiting to go inside, when a car came around the corner and lost control and hit me." But Murphy's outlook remains positive, though recovery, just like the first time, has been painful. Already, he can sit with the leg bent with no pain.

"I've been here about six weeks now doing physiotherapy and I left from nothing to about 110 degrees with the bending," he said. "So it has improved a whole lot. Also, I can now stand on the crutches and rest the foot on the ground, which was actually impossible at first. It is working out for me."

The race will benefit the University Hospital of the West Indies' Physiotherapy Department and PALS Jamaica.