October is Physical Therapy Month, a time to remember and promote the health care profession that primarily deals with curing impairments and disabilities through different physical activities.
To become a physical therapist, students have to first receive an undergraduate degree and then attend physical therapy school, where they learn the ins and outs of all the different areas in the field.
Within the physical therapy profession, there is pediatric physical therapy, cardiovascular and pulmonary, geriatric, integumentary, orthopedic, palliative care, woman’s health, clinical electrophysiology and sports therapy.
In fact, the freedom within the field is what attracted Dave Jeck, a physical therapist at Papillion Manor, to the occupation.
“Within PT, you can do geriatric care, sports orthopedic, pediatric,” Jeck said. “You can do so many different things within the profession. The freedom to just — if I wanted to change, I could do something different.”
The therapy program manager at Papillion Manor, Molly Ganow, said the skilled staff at the nursing home facility is celebrating Physical Therapy Month by promoting their facility, what physical therapy is and how they implement geriatric physical therapy in their facility.
“A lot of people think that a skilled facility is just a place people come to live, but really, we have therapy with a goal to wherever their home is,” Ganow said. “We obviously want people to know what physical therapy is. We want them to know the difference between what physical therapy and occupational therapy is.”
She said Papillion Manor’s therapists promote the occupation because they love to see people go to school to become physical therapists or physical therapist assistants.
Physical therapy assistants get an undergraduate degree and are allowed to do almost everything a physical therapist can, except for the initial and final evaluation, and they can’t set up the plan of care, said Jeck.
“I rely heavily on the PTA’s,” he said. “They are my eyes, ears and hands.”
Just some of the many duties that geriatric physical therapists do is help patients walk, teach them how to use an assistance device, work on transfer training — getting out of bed, getting in bed, getting in a wheelchair, getting to the toilet, getting in or out of tubs and showers — and more.
Papillion Manor’s goal for their patients is to get them to be the most independent they can be, thereby getting the best quality of life, whatever their definition of quality of life may be, said Ganow.
“They’ll come here with a goal of short-term rehab,” she explained. “We’ll work with them five days a week, for almost an hour for each discipline to get them back to wherever their home is — and it could be an assisted living, independent living or it could be back at their own house.”
A different — and maybe more well-known — type of physical therapy is sports therapy.
Therapists in this field mostly work with athletes who injure themselves during their sport’s season and are rehabbing in order to get back to the same or in better condition than they were in before.
Brian Inselman, the physical therapist at Achieve Physical Therapy, 4102 Twin Creek Drive, in Bellevue, works with a lot of middle and high school athletes, as well as with the general public.
“Most of my population is probably 40 and younger,” he said. “I get a couple of older people, but I’m pretty aggressive in my therapy and some don’t want to be aggressive.”
By aggressive, he means that he knows how much his patient’s bodies can take and he knows how far he can push them, without injuring them more.
Inselman is also one of the only physical therapists in the area to utilize the muscle activation technique who has completed the mastery level in that area.
“(The technique) looks at improving your body through the neuromuscular system, so that it reduces the stress on the tissues that are not supposed to be stressed,” he explains.
In some of his patients, these different soft tissues or body parts now are no longer doing things they are designed to do, said Inselman. They are doing things a bit differently, and over time you end up doing things differently, which cause a whole new set of problems to occur.
Inselman got into sports therapy because he always wanted to do something that helped other people accomplish their goals.
“I enjoy seeing people succeed and enjoy seeing people getting better,” he said. “I personally went through some injuries when I went through sports and loved the capability of getting back and I enjoy helping people and seeing them succeed.
In fact, he suggests that anyone thinking about starting a career in physical therapy needs to have that same feeling.
“They have to be good with people,” he said. “It’s definitely a very personable type of job.”
With having so many one-on-one sessions, Insleman said, you’ve got to be someone who can speak with people very well and be very understanding of what’s going on. But you’ve also got to be tough-skinned because you’ll need to be able to push patients to help them get better.
Jeck said it’s not a job for everyone, and it has to be something you really want because it’s not an easy career field.
“Just try to get diverse experience in their clinical, as well,” Jeck said. “So that once they’re out and graduated, they can decide where they want to be, what path they want to follow.”