Vicki’s Story: Never Give Up, and Believe

TROY, Ohio (May 2023) – In the spring of 2022, Vicki Bentley was taking a walk prior to her scheduled performance as a violinist for the Springfield Symphony Orchestra when she suffered a fall.

“It was an unusually warm day when I went walking after my dress rehearsal on the cobblestone sidewalk outside the hall,” said Vicki, the 67-year-old violinist. “But as I approached the railroad tracks, the lip of my shoe suddenly caught on one of the cobblestones, and I went down on my left wrist, completely dislocating it.”

Vicki got to her feet and walked to a nearby hotel to wash her bleeding wrist. Fortunately, she encountered the Orchestra’s executive director and guest artist. Her executive director drove her back to the hall, where the hall manager called 911, and she was taken to the local emergency room.

“Instead of playing in my concert, I was lying in the emergency room bleeding,” Vicki said.

Shortly after her fall, Vicki underwent surgery on her left wrist.

When Vicki’s wrist healed enough from the surgery, she searched for an occupational therapist who specialized in working with musicians. That’s when she found Ida Sechrist-Kessler OTR/L, CHT, a certified hand therapist at UVMC Outpatient Care Center South in Troy. Vicki began her occupational therapy journey later that spring with Ida.

“I met Vicki at the end of April, and she walked in the offices very nervous and scared she’d never play her instrument again,” Ida recalled. “I reassured her that we would work hard and get her back to playing.”

During Vicki’s first visit, she had barely any motion in her left wrist. Ida gave Vicki several exercises to build the joint’s strength and endurance.             

“We got creative and found her a ball to bounce around for a little fun. We played forward pass. I also had Vicki roll a ball around on a plate using her left hand,” Ida explained.

As Vicki’s therapy progressed, she brought her violin to play for Ida and the rehabilitation team. The first time Vicki brought her violin to therapy, she could barely touch the top strings with her fingers. Ida guided her hand to play on the other strings. Vicki cried. It was the first time she could play again, and it seemed impossible. Vicki was determined to get back to fully regain her ability to play, with the support of her symphony backing her.   

“I had a huge goal to play in the symphony in October because the guest artist was Itzhak Perlman, one of the greatest concert violinists ever in the history of the world,” Vicki said.       

Vicki routinely practiced playing the violin between her appointments with Ida to meet her goal.

What Vicki found most memorable about her experience with occupational therapy was the encouragement she received from Ida.

“Ida believed in me. She believed in me right off the bat. One of the first questions I asked her was, ‘Will I ever play again?’ And she said yes,” said Vicki. “At the time, I couldn't see how, but I trusted her. She never gave up on me, no matter how hard it was for me to move my left hand, fingers, wrist, or regain my range of motion.”

Vicki triumphed in her goal of rejoining her symphony members for their concert in October 2022. Recently, she finished her 38th season with the Springfield Symphony Orchestra. She now has full capability of her left wrist, continuing her love for an instrument that she began playing in the fourth grade.

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