Physical Therapy can help you live your best life. For some people, it gives them their life back. For others, it gives them the right start in life. I have been a patient whose life was changed by PT, and I am a therapist helping people in their journey. I have treated hundreds of patients in my 22 years as a PT and am more passionate than ever about providing the kind of high-quality PT that changes lives. My hope is that every patient will find the right physical therapist, which may mean trying more than one. Just as no two doctors (or any other profession) are the same, no two PTs are the same.
How physical therapy became part of my story
There is so much about PT and my story that I want to share. I could back all the way up to 1998 and my early years as a therapist in pediatric inpatient and outpatient, which are some of my favorite memories. I could tell you about how going to PT for dry needling and manual therapy prevents or decreases my own migraines (unfortunate genetic link in my family).
Instead, I will focus on the year 2009. I had just had my 3rd child, and could not seem to get back to running, or quite frankly to anything even resembling a normal routine, as I had been fortunate to do after my first two children were born. My body was not recovering properly, and I kept putting my physical recovery on the back burner, hoping that time would be the great healer. I knew about women’s health PT but did not think I was there yet. I did not know that every woman who has a baby should see a pelvic health PT, or that in some countries, postpartum PT is the standard of care. I waited and waited. I finally saw a women’s health therapist, but the evaluation was not comprehensive and after a few sessions I was not improving. Even as a PT, I was ill prepared to address the issues that I was dealing with. I did not quite understand the biomechanics of my weak core or shifted organs or the lack of “floor” support that I was experiencing (pelvic health is taught in PT school, but very briefly). I was ready to have surgery, and a dear friend and colleague told me to try another PT. She referred me to my colleague and now dear friend, Dr. Blair Green, who is a pelvic PT extraordinaire. Her approach was very thorough, addressing not just the pelvic floor but also my back pain, posture, breathing, biomechanics, and more. After one visit I had hope, and after a few visits I was well on my way to a great recovery.
Blair encouraged me to pursue a certification in women’s health, as she saw the passion that I had for bringing awareness about postpartum recovery to more women. I spent a few (more) years pouring myself into my education, achieving not only my pelvic health certification but also spent extra time in research and other areas of PT to achieve my clinical doctorate. Because of the incredible efficacy of dry needling, I pursued training and certification in that as well. I spent time boosting my orthopedic and manual skills, which are crucial to integrative PT and a relative weakness for some pelvic health PTs. My background in breathing disorders and understanding of the diaphragm was an amazing adjunct to pelvic health, with the crucial relationship that the pelvic floor and diaphragm have. Looking back on this journey, I am so thankful for the support of my family as I enjoyed furthering my education, and I am honestly thankful for the discomfort of those postpartum years that shaped me and created a passion for pelvic health.
My story helps me help others
My story also includes my own integrative health journey, which gives me empathy and experience to come alongside my clients who have similar issues with inflammation, food intolerances, and other health issues which can be solved with the right detective work, lifestyle changes, and specialist support. Physical therapists can be the jumping board to major health changes, as we spend more time with our patients than other providers are able to and can identify issues and connect dots that may be missed with typical medical follow up.
According to the World Health Organization, health is “a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.” Science has helped us learn a tremendous amount about the reciprocal relationship between physical, mental, and social health. There is always hope, and physical therapy can be an integral part of restoring and maintaining health.
I have had the privilege of hearing words spoken to me that I once spoke as part of my story, and I fully understand the weight of their meaning: “You have given me my life back.”