From a Client


"It was a gorgeous July day on Capri, stepping down the ladder in the cliff-face, into the famous opalescent water near the Blue Grotto. I slipped on the algae-covered rung. I fell no more than two feet but my right arm lodged both between the ladder and the cliff and between two rungs, horizontal and vertical, discloating my shoulder, elbow, and thumb, severing my bicep, ripping my subscapularis away from my ribcage. There were several other injuries like torn rotator cuffs as well. I was fortunate to have brilliant surgeons at Duke sports medicine, a chunk or two of titanium holding me together, and eight months of serious and superb rehab under the care of Bob Bruzga, manager of the Sports Medicine Division of the Department Physical and Occupation Therapy at Duke. During that time, I had to move my right arm again, to relearn balance, and how to do smaller motions like clicking my computer mouse. I was at physical therapy every day for two to three hours. I was as serious as an athlete trying to get back into the game. I watched in a mirror and made sure that even tiny movements were symmetrical as I retrained the muscles on the right side of my body to act as if they were not injured. Progress was very slow. The injuries were so extensive that working on one area could hurt another and so I had to be measured and patient. But I beat all the odds. I could not have done this without Bob's skillful, cautious, and encouraging expertise and guidance.

And then the progress stopped. I hit a wall as unyielding as the cliff-face on Capri.

That's when Bob suggested I see Radonna Patterson. I'm a physically active person, have had a few years of dance training, and I was frustrated that, although I had recovered more movement than anyone could have anticipated, I did not feel strong, agile, or whole. I felt like a thinking and disciplined being moving a recently injured arm. Sometimes I would talk about "powering" my arm, as if it were a bulldozer with levers and pedals and a steering wheel. I did not feel like a whole, working, confident person. Bob urged me to see Radonna.

That was a big step psychologically, stepping out of the almost daily sessions exercising in the warm therapy pool or up in the therapy room, watching in a mirror as I did dozens, sometimes hundreds, of repetitions of movements with small weights. A big step that changed my life.

Radonna first did a structural bodywork session. It blew me away. With her hands, she could feel where I was injured, she could see what muscles I had had to develop in order to compensate for all the tears and dislocations. Looking at me, she could see how I was holding my body to compensate for the injury, to protect myself from the body memory of what had been excrutiating pain. And she could watch my eyes and see the movements that caused me fear, that came too close to evoking the original moments of dislocation and severing. With firmness, kindness, gentleness, acumen, and intelligence, she devised a program for me that both set the bar high and proceeded in guided increments that gave me the confidence to succeed. She read me---not just my body but my determination and my fears. I remember how she, in our first session, used the Gyrotonic machine to see what my range of motion was. There was one movement that required turning a lever in a full circle. I got half way around. She then had me pause and do the same movement (easily!) with my left side. After I was completely comfortable with the range of motion, the ease of operation, the feeling of my body being stretched and limber, she then had me do the right side again. To my astonishment, I was able to move the same lever in a full circle this time. It was like learning to walk. A heady experience. I was on my way.

I have now been going to Bodyworks for almost a year. I do gyrotonic, pilates, and, gyrokinesis classes. I'm back to work full-time now, in a corporate-style job that requires long hours. I make sure that my schedule accommodates, at the least, a gyrokinesis class. The stretching movements, the arching, the attention to each individual doing the movements to the best of her or his ability, and the range of motion all have me back to a place where I no longer feel like a bulldozer but an active human being. I can stand straight, walk, run, stretch, bend, and move my arms in ways I never dreamed possible. And in that last sentence I wrote "arms." I have two of them again, integrated into the rest of my body and my being. I'm on my way to feeling whole again. That could not have happened without the excellent staff at Bodyworks, all of whom embody the Bodyworks philosophy of an integrated body and mind exemplified by Radonna Patterson.

Radonna is a magician, a teacher, a helper, a taskmaster, a leader, and a visionary. It is a privilege to study with her. Eighteen months after my fall on Capri, I consider myself one very fortunate human being.

Cathy N. Davidson
Vice Provost for Interdisciplinary Studies
Ruth F. DeVarney Professor of English
Duke University


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