I love physical therapy.
But I believe the field is filled with a ton of old-school methods that are not supported by research. My job, as a physical therapist, is to constantly learn the latest research to help my patients decrease pain, return to pre-injury function, and prevent future injuries from occurring.
I believe the greatest way to help my patients is to empower them to help themselves.
In a few weeks, I don’t want my patients to need me anymore. Nor do I want them to return to me with the same injury. My goal is to always foster patient independence.
For this reason, I am not a big believer in more passive modalities such as electrical stimulation for pain relief, ultrasound, kinesiotape, or massage. I use pretty much all of those modalities (except ultrasound) but I try to as sparingly as possible.
I believe every patient deserves an individualized program that is centered, more than anything, on their goals and preferences. As a healthcare provider, I will most definitely create goals regarding strength, movement, and functional tests but, at the end of the day, if I’m not helping my patients achieve their goals, I’m not doing a good job.
My Treatment Philosophy encompasses the following:
- One on one care. This should be a given but it certainly is not. Many (maybe even most) physical therapy practices operate by having a therapist working with 2-3 patients at a time. In this environment, optimal patient care simply cannot be achieved. My focus will always be on one patient at a time.
- Focus on the patient. Not the computer screen. Inevitably, notes are part of what we do. But I take efforts every day to minimize the amount of time I’m spending typing during a treatment session. I will NEVER be the healthcare provider that looks at a computer screen more than I look at the person I’m treating. As a previous patient, this is very frustrating.
- Collaborative communication. I want to work with my patients. I don’t want to constantly dictate what they do. I always ask for feedback. I want what you want. Within reason of sound clinical judgment, I will attempt to adjust treatment strategies to fit my patient’s needs, expectations, and preferences.
- Individualized exercise programs. I NEVER use pre-made exercise programs, or exercise flowsheets, for hip pain, shoulder pain, etc. like so many physical therapy practices. I attempt to create a comprehensive exercise program based specifically on an individual’s impairments and goals to help restore optimal function.
- Movement testing. This goes beyond traditional joint strength and range of motion testing. I’m certified in FMS and SFMA. All movement systems have flaws and short-comings but I utilize methods gleaned from these Functional Movement System certifications to help my patients move better.
- Modern Pain Science. I try to use the most recent evidence regarding imaging, such as X-rays and MRIs, and how they are often not related to an individual’s pain. Nor do they typically affect the treatment strategy. I believe imaging can be useful but findings such as osteoarthritis, spinal stenosis, disc bulges/degeneration/herniations are not as correlated to pain as what we thought even 5 years ago. I try to empower my patients to understand how powerful and resilient our bodies are and how many imaging findings are simply related to the normal aging process. I never want my patients to be afraid to move.
- Evidence-based strength and conditioning principles. I’m a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist (CSCS) in addition to my training and education as a physical therapist. I believe a well-rounded, active lifestyle that consists of improving and maintaining cardiovascular fitness, strength, and movement is paramount. I believe this is a useful strategy to minimize injury risk and can aid in the rehabilitation process as well.
- Specific treatments
- Blood Flow Restriction Training. I’m certified in Blood Flow Restriction (BFR) Rehabilitation through Owens Recovery Sciences. I believe BFR can be a very useful strategy for rehabilitation, injury prevention, and even performance enhancement.
- Instrument Assisted Soft Tissue Massage (IASTM). As I mentioned above, my goal is always to foster independence. Therefore, no form of massage will be at the forefront of my treatment strategy. However, I believe IASTM can be a quick, helpful tool to help someone feel and move better prior to exercising.
- Heavy resistance training. Heavy is relative to the individual and their goals. But I’m not afraid for patients to squat, deadlift, and push/pull heavier weight. In my opinion, most physical therapists do not challenge their patients enough. I believe lifting heavier weights, within a tolerable range, can be very empowering.
- Running-specific evaluation/treatment. Running has always been a passion of mine. I ran cross country and track at Augusta University and was thankful to have a relatively injury-free collegiate career. Treating someone who wishes to run recreationally, or competitively, can involve implementing more complex stresses than which is typically contained within a physical therapy plan of care. The initial treatment strategy for an injured runner will often focus on isolated impairments. But my goal is always to quickly integrate the restoration of these impairments into dynamic activities and ultimately into running itself. Additionally, I provide evidence-based information regarding sound injury prevention strategies, footwear, running form (if needed), strength/core/flexibility routines, safe training principles, etc. There is a lot of misinformation out there regarding running and my goal is to always utilize the best available evidence to provide optimal care for my patients to return to running injury free.