The chance to compete in the 2007 World Senior Games spurred Bill Smithpeters, 77, to seek therapy for his chronic back pain.
Smithpeters had played baseball and softball since his teen years, and even played professionally for the St. Louis Cardinals’ farm system
right out of high school, but his ongoing back problems were getting in the way.
“Because of my back, I just couldn’t run,” says Smithpeters. “I felt it was worth the try to see if I could get the back in better shape. I wanted to play in those games.”
During the summer of 2007, just a few months before the games, his doctor referred him to the St. Luke’s Rehabilitation clinic on Spokane’s northside of Spokane.
“I was very skeptical because I had gone to therapy over the years,” says Smithpeters. “I had not gained that much relief from it.”
This time, however, was different. At first he had a hard time sitting down and getting up on the table, but his physical therapist, Erin Dunlop, had a gentle, professional approach, helping him to relax and learn the exercises which soon lowered his pain and improved his mobility.
“After about two sessions things completely changed. Getting on the table for therapy was no problem,” says Smithpeters, noting that it had been at least ten years since his back had felt that good.
The entire experience was positive, he says, describing the clinic’s relaxing atmosphere and his ease getting appointments that were close by, on-timeand a good fit for his schedule.
And he especially appreciated the expertise and caring his therapist showed. “She explained my problems to me,” says Smithpeters of Dunlop, who helped him strengthen key muscles through targeted exercises, explaining how and why the exercises would help.
They helped a lot, says Smithpeters. After four sessions he no longer had difficulty getting out of bed in the morning and could even shovel snow without pain. And, of course, he played softball in those Senior Games, competing with his team in the 70+ age category against 30 other teams. His team won the silver medal.