Youngstown Artist on the Road to Recovery with Ohio Sports & Spine

Liz Testa, an artist, mother and tennis player, suffered from a sudden shoulder injury earlier this year. The active woman tried to cope with the pain until she reached her breaking point. That’s when she turned to Ohio Sports & Spine Institute and she’s glad she did.

Liz, 38, suffers from calcium build-up on her rotator cuff, a group of muscles and tendons in her shoulder, which had become inflamed and painful.

After a trip to an orthopedic urgent care center, she decided it was time to seek therapy to strengthen her shoulder. That’s when she met Dr. John Dunne, a physician with Ohio Sports & Spine Institute.

“I had never gone to physical therapy before, but once I decided to go, I felt very comfortable from the moment I met Dr. Dunne,” said Liz. “From the first visit, I could tell that he genuinely cared about me. After a few follow-up visits, he doesn’t just say ‘next, please’ once he realized I’m making progress. He really takes his time with me and I never feel rushed.”

Dr. Dunne assessed Liz and showed her some exercises for relief before she was evaluated by the physical therapy team.

“He pointed out my bad posture and other things that could be affecting my shoulder pain,” she said. “My neck, jaw, chin, pelvic bones – things I never would have thought could cause pain in that concentrated area. There’s so much more to it and I was thankful he took the time to educate me on this.”

In addition to seeing Dr. Dunne, Liz is doing physical therapy several times a week with Physical Therapist Stephanie Porter and several PT assistants.

“It really is a team effort,” said Liz. “Between the exercises Dr. Dunne showed me and what I’m doing with the therapy team, I’m noticing a major difference.”

Although she still has her good days and bad days, she’s learning how to strengthen different muscles that ultimately affect her shoulder pain.

She realized she was compensating her whole left side to try to make up for the pain in her shoulder.

“I can actually get dressed now without feeling the pain I felt just a few weeks ago,” she said. “And I can make my bed. I’m able to do the little things that I wouldn’t have thought twice about before I started experiencing this pain. I’ve been so happy with the progress.”

As a visual person, Liz appreciates the hands-on interaction of the PT team and the educational materials they provide so that she can do exercises at home, too.

“These aren’t just your standard medical print-outs you typically get,” said Liz. “They’re much more visual and they’re personalized for me. The whole process is very organized and thorough and I’m so impressed with this experience.”

Liz is an artist by trade, active in the Youngstown art community, and does mostly large acrylic paintings. She’s known for her contemporary abstract pieces.

“I usually work on the floor while creating these pieces,” said Liz. “And it’s a lot of physical work.”

Between making art, playing tennis, being a mom to her nine-year-old daughter and babysitting her two-year-old nephew, Liz is happy to be re-gaining strength in her shoulder so she can go back to living her normal and active life.

Liz Testa, who goes by Liz Bulkley-Testa in the art community, paints chairs each year for an annual charity event that supports the Sojourner House. She’s regaining strength in her injured shoulder just in time for this year’s event this month.
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