Violinist makes full recovery with occupational therapist’s help


TROY – 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 Bentley, the 67-year-old violinist in a press release from Upper Valley Medical Center. “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.”

She 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,” Bentley said.

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

When her 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. Bentley began her occupational therapy journey later that spring with Sechrist-Kessler.

“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,” Sechrist-Kessler recalled. “I reassured her that we would work hard and get her back to playing.”

During Bentley’s first visit, she had barely any motion in her left wrist. Sechrist-Kessler gave Bentley 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,” Sechrist-Kessler explained.

As Bentley’s therapy progressed, she brought her violin to play for Sechrist-Kessler and the rehabilitation team. The first time Bentley brought her violin to therapy, she could barely touch the top strings with her fingers. Sechrist-Kessler guided her hand to play on the other strings. Bentley cried. It was the first time she could play again, and it seemed impossible. Bentley 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,” Bentley said.

She routinely practiced playing the violin between her appointments with Sechrist-Kessler to meet her goal.

What she found most memorable about her experience with occupational therapy was the encouragement she received from Sechrist-Kessler.

“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 Bentley. “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.”

Bentley 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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