“My Physical Therapist”

Month–wonder if anyone knows that besides the physical therapists?  It always amazes me when I ask a new patient if they have ever had physical therapy and their answer is, “no.”  Many of the people I know in San Francisco have a team of practitioners: my doctor, my dentist, my chiropractor, my acupuncturist, my nutritionist, my personal trainer, the list goes on and on.  I look forward to the day when physical therapists consistently make the list of healthcare practitioners that patients seek out if they have a musculoskeletal injury.

A couple of years ago, my friend was diagnosed with an L5-S1 spondylolisthesis.  He was anxious about the diagnosis and asked for my advice.  I assured him that this was a common condition that PT’s treat and encouraged him to seek treatment.  A few weeks later he told me about his experience choosing a physical therapist.

He explained that he called the clinic and asked to speak to the therapist in order to interview her before starting treatment.  I laughed at the time–he wanted to interview her??  I told him that isn’t the way it works–generally patients just schedule the appointment and go for the initial evaluation where they meet the therapist for the first time.  Of course, I’ve given many clinic tours and talked to plenty of patients at the front desk to answer questions before their first session.  In the past, I always did so with a little (hopefully well-hidden) annoyance feeling irritated that they had doubts that we could help them.  Well, maybe my friend and those patients are on to something.  I’m not suggesting we all spend hours of our already packed days being interviewed by prospective patients, but perhaps a few minutes spent answering an email or talking with a potential patient could go a long way in developing rapport and ensuring that the patient become an active participant in their rehab.

That’s what we all want, isn’t it?

And then, just like that, you’ve become, “my physical therapist.”

Why PT?

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I wasn’t one of those kids who knew exactly what they wanted to be when they grew up.  Problem was, I wanted to grow up and do lots of different things.  This affliction followed me to high school where I sang in choirs, wrote for the school newspaper, played sports, and was surprised to discover my love for the human body in Mr. Larson’s anatomy class.  College rolled around and I had to apply to a specific major.  I knew I loved teaching, but there were just so. many. things. I wanted to learn and do.  I used to say I wished I had 9 lives so I could have 9 different careers.  Fast forward to my last year of college.  I was on track, ready to graduate and start a teacher credential program when I found it–a profession that encompassed just about everything I was looking for that allowed me to educate, stay active,engage with interesting people, promote healthy lifestyles, and help people heal.  Physical therapy was something I knew absolutely nothing about until a minor running injury landed me on the table in our local clinic.  I didn’t go to many sessions and remember little about what we did there, but the experience opened my eyes to a new opportunity.  Much to my parents dismay, I forged a new purposeful path and spent the next 3 years pursuing this new goal.  Even upon graduation from PT school, I had no idea how my career would evolve beyond the walls of a clinic.  I now have a job that lets me do just about all of the things that I enjoy–teach continuing education courses, promote health and the prevention of injury to community groups, evaluate runners for injury prevention, and write articles for various physical therapy magazines.  I save the cooking for home and the singing for my weekly get together with The Loose Interpretations (more on that to come…).