Problem Solving: Wood vs. The Body

Over the years, I have developed a love for working with my hands.

Outside of being a Physical Therapist, I try to incorporate this into my daily life through some basic woodworking and home improvement problem solving. 

Years ago, when I was but a young whippersnapper in high school, my dad bought some land to build himself a new home on. This required us to clear the area with chainsaws, build a shed from scratch, and finish the upper story of the house once the modular pieces were placed. As things sometimes go, a young person working with a parent can be tumultuous, and while I may not have loved those experiences at the time, they helped me identify something inside of me that I knew I loved.

Bitten By the Fix-It Bug

These days, I often find myself repairing odd things and refinishing furniture that can be found at the thrift store. While I do not get to do this often, (the last furniture project I had was over a year ago) I am constantly dreaming about it. On the occasions that I do get to work with my hands, it gives me such a feeling of self-fulfillment and pride.

In sharing my experiences from these weekend warrior projects with patients and hearing about projects they are excited about, I’ve found a feeling of a common bond over the trials, stresses, and rewards from these simple projects that we have struggled over, poured money and emotions into, and eventually completed with satisfaction.

There is something magical and rewarding about working with my hands and I enjoy being able to utilize the area of the brain that is involved in creativity and problem-solving both at work and in my free time at home.

Problem Solving: Wood vs. The Body?

In the same way, every time I work with an individual in physical therapy I am working with them to solve a problem. Each project is like its own puzzle that requires a potentially unique and different approach, some creativity, and a willingness to experiment if necessary.

Trust me, everyone is definitely unique and no two people are the same, even if they have been given the same diagnosis.

As more time is placed into a project, be that project a home improvement or an individual human being, the better the results. The only difference is the method by which a problem is solved. While a shed takes a saw, measuring tape, drill, and enough screws to fill a kitchen sink, a human being takes:

  • the promotion of self-knowledge
  • understanding of their issue at hand
  • installation of the motivation to take action
  • a network of support

Years from now, I would like to be able to think of myself as an artisan. The things that I do with my life all have the common theme of improvement and problem solving, and I always get extra motivated if I get to use my hands. These qualities about my inner self are what drive me to be the person that I am. Without it, I would not be able to complete my job with the passion that I have.

Follow my journey in trial and error here. 

Emerson Talbott, Physical Therapist

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