Determination in the Face of Overwhelming Doubt

After a shoulder injury started to slow this local woman down, she knew it would take hard work and dedication to get back on track.


Born and raised in Rhode Island, Emily has spent the last 70 years keeping active and involved in her community. Emily’s 30-year career included working for several of Rhode Island’s larger advertising agencies followed by marketing and development for a children’s theater, and as a business manager for a local art sculptor.  

Emily and her partner, Bill have always loved to stay active, and although they retired years ago, they wouldn’t let anything slow them down.  Emily and her partner now spend their retirement going hiking, kayaking, swimming, playing a round of golf, and any other outdoor activity they can try! 

When Emily is not enjoying her outdoor activities, she spends her afternoons in the kitchen, reading, or finding ways to help her community “I truly love to help people and volunteer whenever I can” she smiled.  Her favorite organization is the Audubon Society of Rhode Island, an organization that protects wildlife and other habitats through education and advocacy for the benefit of people and all living things. This conservation agency has many plots of private land, and as volunteers, Emily and her partner walk the boundaries to check the area for any environmental or property encroachment issues that could alter the protection of the land. 

When she’s not volunteering for the Audubon Society, Emily also takes and teaches classes through the Lifelong Learning Collaborative, a peer-run, adult continuing education organization based in Providence.  

Over the last 10 years, Emily has been dealing with a reoccurring shoulder problem. Luckily, it had never caused her too much pain, or took away from her active lifestyle...that was until her fall last October. 

One afternoon, Emily was out exploring in the woods behind her house, as she was stepping from rock to rock back to her yard, one of the rocks became loose. As the rock tumbled over, Emily went down with it, and when she landed on her shoulder, she knew it was serious.   

Emily and her partner, Bill had a hiking trip planned for Canada a few weeks after her fall, and Emily wouldn’t let anything stop her from enjoying her vacation, so she pushed through the pain and went on her trip.  When she got back, Emily’s pain became more severe during activities, and soon got to the point where it kept her up at night.

So, she made an appointment with Dr. Melissa Robidoux at the Smithfield clinic to give physical therapy a try. Dr. Robidoux believed that Emily tore her rotator cuff. Due to years of activity, Emily had built up a great range of motion so she would not need surgery, but it was important that she work on strengthening the muscles around the rotator cuff, to help her move without pain.  “Melissa is a straight shooter, and I had every confidence that she would get me where I needed to be,” Emily smiled. 

Emily was told it would take about 9 months to heal completely. “When I heard that I thought there was no way I could make it!” she expressed. But due to her dedication to recovery, Emily put everything she had into her appointments as well as her home exercises, which became more rigorous over time as more exercises were added. And with the support of her partner, and her team at Performance, Emily was finally ready to start up her regular activities again.  

By the start of the summer, Emily was feeling confident enough to try more challenging activates, so she hit the golf course “and I wasn’t that great,” she laughed, but the more practice she had over the summer, the better she got! Emily also spent the summer at a nearby pond, and before she knew it, she was swimming and kayaking with ease. 

Her 9-month recovery had gone by faster than she thought, and now Emily is happy to be back to where she was a year ago before her fall. “I don’t think there's anything I can’t do anymore!” she expressed.


- Learn more about Dr. Robidoux

- Click here to learn more about what physical therapy is and what it can do to help you. If you are still not sure if physical therapy is what you need request an appointment to speak with a physical therapist about your concerns

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