Continuing Education Bits for PTs & PTAs

The results of last week's EDUCATA poll.INTRODUCTION: We were not surprised, but still very gratified, to see the results from last week’s poll. We love that PTs and PTAs are so prompt and ready to help. And we loved comments like Larry’s, who loves what he does!

We look forward to hearing what you have to say and the stories you’d like to share. In fact, if you tell us one of your PT stories (it can be touching, funny, a learning experience — whatever you feel like telling us), we’ll be keeping an eye out to randomly select one story for a $200 Amazon gift certificate.

So, you started down this path with a specific purpose. Is that still your motivation today? Or has it changed, adapting to the twists and turns of life as it happens?

I remember serving on a panel about career direction to a group of PT students. One person on the panel was a pediatric PT, one was well known for her work in governance, another worked twice a year (for a month at a time) in a country/region of need, the fourth person worked in home health, and I was a researcher. Since I was the last seat on the panel, I had the luxury of hearing everybody else’s story first. I commented on how interesting it was to look at the pattern of the five of us: While our careers were so different, we were each PASSIONATE about what we did, we all had the same background/studies/degrees, yet we were able to contribute to our profession so differently.

Now, it’s YOUR turn. I look forward to hearing from you! — Marilyn Pink, PT, Ph.D.

Tell us your story!

PT Month PTsHave you ever run into a situation, either as a PT student or in your work life, that you thought, “This one is for the books!” Tell us! If you found something to be funny, or something that inspired you, or something that has a lesson — we’d love to hear it.

We look forward to hearing from you! Click on “leave a comment” and tell us your story below.


Comments on: "Tell us your physical therapy story!" (33)

  1. My favorite moments as a PT so far have been about defying barriers and expectations. About 2 years ago, I had a spinal cord injury patient who the physicians had initially told him he would never walk again. My hospital generously took on the case pro bono and that young man literally walked out our doors a few weeks later. Still brings tears to my eyes. I also love when my former patients come visit me and I don’t recognize them, because they are doing so much better.

  2. Sherri R. said:

    A while back, I was treating a patient that had Guillain Barre. He improved from barely being able to stand & walk with a walker to walking without assistive device and living a normal life. He returned one day and told me, “You will never know how much you changed my life!” This is why I’m a PT!

  3. Sandi Preston said:

    I am a summer pediatric PT. I was taking over Brandon for the summer, so I met with the school PTA for continuum of care. The PTA explained that this 9 yr old, had MD and was not a fan of Physical Therapy. He is emotional at times and some tears were seen. He was the master of procrastination between exercises. She prepared me for his frequent questions, “How many times do I have to do this?” “Are we done yet?” “When will we be done?”

    Since this child seemed burned out with therapy, I asked his PTA if he would be a candidate for Hippotherapy. She didn’t really think he could do Hippotherapy, but left it up to me because I had more experience with Hippotherapy.

    Sure enough, the assistant was right. I saw him at his grandmother’s home and I got, “How many times do I have to do this?” “Are we done yet?” “When will we be done?” And a new question,”How many times do I have to do this this summer?” I also got a lot of “I can’t do that.” Good thing I had a discussion with the assistant on his exact abilities.

    Trying to decide about Hippotherapy, I then asked if he liked horses. His eyes lit up and he said, “Yes!” I asked, “Have you ever ridden a horse?” He said, “No, but I’ve ridden a pony. But never a horse.” In his eyes , a horse and pony are very different.

    I decided that Hippotherapy would be a great adjunct to his therapy. I asked his mom if Brandon could do Hippotherapy. After explaining that Hippotherapy doesn’t use a hippopotamus, but uses a horse, she was agreeable.

    Today was the big day. Brandon’s first day of Hippotherapy. He walked up the ramp and stood beside me. He said his grandmother told him that horses can tell if you’re afraid. He stood tall, put his hands on his hips and kinda puffed up his chest. I’m not sure if he was trying to convince the horse, me or himself.

    With some help, Brandon got on the horse and had a death grip on the surcingle (a handle for the rider.). I then got on the horse behind him. Five minutes into the session, he announces, “I’m not afraid.” Wow, great first step.

    Several minutes later he announces, “This is the most fun I’ve had since I can’t remember when!” I melted. I’ve thought about that statement many times.

    Okay, now he is getting comfortable on the horse. His hands and arms are getting a work out with his death grip, but time to get his trunk working more. I challenge him to put his hands on his head for 5 seconds. I count 1,2,3,4,5 and his hands immediately return to the surcingle. After a few more times, I counted to 5 and noticed he still had his hands on his head, so I continued to count for him, letting him decide when he would reach for the surcingle again. 10 seconds! This continued with the activities on the horse. He would balance longer than I asked him to do. I would tell him a time and started saying, “I can do longer than that.”

    By the end of the session, he asked, “When can I do this again?” and “When can I ride alone?”

    What surprised me even more, was his attitude during his next sessions at his home. He said, “I can do more.” “This exercise is too easy.” ” Can I make up an exercise?” Really, I’m not making this up!

    By the end of the second session he rode 2 laps by himself, without a backrider. During the 3rd session he started letting go of the surcingle on his own, grinning and waiting for me to notice. He also asked, “How many times do I get to do this.” By the 4th session, I asked him if he wanted to trot? He was so enthusiastic and quickly said yes. After a pause, he asked, “What’s a trot?” I got on the horse behind him and he was able to trot. He couldn’t wait to tell Dad that he could trot.

    By the 5th session, he was riding by himself the entire session. During the 6th session, Brandon was trotting by himself, without a backrider. His positive attitude continued to carried over to his home sessions.
    His progress and attitude change was truly amazing. This child had a profound impact on me!

  4. Carl Forrest said:

    I am 85 years old and retired at age 70 from 40 plus years in private practice. Subsequently I spent the next 4 years working part time in one of our Prisons and retired again!
    I have many wonderful and different stories but the one that comes to mind and was perhaps the most impactful took place when I was interning at a hospital in Los Angeles in 1960. I was assigned a 16 year old female diagnosed with polio. We were attempting to find out if her swallowing reflex had returned. At one point she began to choke and i realized then the aide had left the room and i was alone. My first thought was “Oh God, don’t let her die!”. But I opened her tracheostomy tube, suctioned her and all was quickly resolved.
    I was able to follow this patient from acute care to Rancho Los Amigos and ultimately had her as a home patient. And her parents became the god parents to my first child. This was an expereince i have never forgotten and am so glad to have had it early in my career.

  5. Paula Callender said:

    I have been a P.T. for almost 20 years and have worked in various settings. I have especially enjoyed working with geriatric patients. They continually surprise me. I was walking with a lady who was 94 years old and was trying to determine if she was physically and cognitively able to go back home to live by herself. I asked her questions about current events and made some jokes to see if she could understand. She was safe and independent in transfers and walking with a walker and I was thinking she was good to go. Then I asked her again who she lived with and she told me she lived with her mother. I just started laughing and she asked why. I told her,since she was 96 years old, I was wondering how old her mother was. She realized she was mistaken. I was walking with another women of 89 years and she told me: ” Oh If I could just be young again. What I wouldn’t give to be 75 again”. As I was in my 30’s that seemed quite old, but its looking younger every year. One of the most touching moments occurred when I was treating a man of approximately 45 years old with Parkinson’s Disease. It was back in the 1990’s when there were less treatment options. He was bed bound, very rigid and had almost no speech. Nevertheless his wife was always upbeat and diligent in doing his range of motion, and encouraging to him. Then one day when I took the stairs I happened to see her in the stair well alone and sobbing. I just wished there had been more I could have done for them.

  6. tracyevarola said:

    . I have been a Physical Therapist for almost 10years and now I’m working in UAE. I feel like I don’t know any other job other than being a physical therapist. What I find significant about this job is that we help people recover and go back to their functional level. What moved me is how I see my patients or my patient’s parents how they appreciate us and how grateful they are when they see improvements. A simple thank you and a “job well done” is more than enough to melt my heart. I may not be the best or I may not be a very good therapist but I try and give my best to provide my patients the maximum treatment and rehabilitation that they need and with care, concern, and sympathy for the patients..

    It’s really heart warming when we see improvements on our patients. Despite the hand and back ache sometimes, I never will regret being a physical therapist coz I love my job, I love helping people and making them happy… 😊😊

  7. Don Shechtman said:

    I retired last year after a PT career of 55 years ( was almost 80 years old).

    Have blessed an RN friend every day for having suggested PT when I was in my last semester of college and did not know where to go from there.

    Not having even heard of PT at that time, I observed at a couple of clinics and immediately knew this was for me. Applied to the PT school at Columbia U. (NY), was accepted, received full scholarship from Nat’l Assoc.of Infantile Paralysis and went on to have the marvelous life one enjoys when they love their job every minute of every day, knowing we are helping patients in a way no other profession can.

  8. I was a uncoordinated teenager with large breasts. I was always tripping and loosing my balance, like I had 2 left feet. I could swim, but on land, yikes. So, somehow I thought PT sounded cool, since I was always hurting myself. I volunteered at our local hospital under Ken Flowers who was a certified Hand Specialist and I just felt like this was a good place for me to be. Learning anatomy and how to care for people. I flipped off my bike at one point after I had been volunteering, sprained my wrist, but I knew what to do to help it. So, that started off my career in PT, because I was clumsy. Now, 28 years later, I am still at it. Now, I have a 13 year old daughter that reminds me of just how I was back then. She has 2 left big feet, as well. They make good flippers! Not sure where she will set her sights as a career, but , PT has been good to my family.

  9. Bernice Kegel said:

    I have been a Pt for over 40 years. The highlight of my career was to be able to go to the Dominican Republic after the Haiti earthquake in 2010 to assist 13 children and their families who had sustained major fractures and amputations. I went 4 weeks after the earthquake, so it was perfect timing for my area of interest—getting patients moving and ready for prostheses. It was a pleasure working out of the confines of the American health care system—no Hippa rules. I posted everything I needed to know about the patient on the wall behind them. I did not write daily notes, but wrote one comprehensive note at the end of my 10 days, so that the therapist taking my place would know what she needed to know about the patient. Nobody told me how long to spend on treatment for each individual. It was left to my professional judgement. I worked from 8am to 10pm, pretty much non stop, but just did what I felt was necessary at each point in time. It was the most rewarding 10 days of my career, and I still get occasional updates on how the kids are doing ( who are now teenagers

  10. I was working as an admin assistant and now thrilled with my career options. At this time I also started running for the first time in my mid 20’s. I started having knee pain as sought the help of physical therapy. I discovered I’m a pronator and with orthotics, good shoes, and some exercises my knee pain was gone. It was amazed! It was like a light bulb went off. I had a B.S. in sociology and knew I wanted a career where I could help people. Within a few months I quit my job to go back to school full time and apply for the PTA program at Austin Community College. I’ve been a PTA for 5 years now and I love my job. I love knowing when I walk out the door each day I am going to help somebody feel better.

  11. I started back to college before the birth of my second son. I had no clue what I was going to do but I felt compelled to take some classes. Someone had mentioned PTA but I shrugged my shoulders and thought it wasn’t for me. I was 5 months into my pregnancy when I learned that my second son would be born with Spina Bifida. I dropped out and decided that my life would be to busy with him to worry about college or career. He was three months old when he began PT. Making great progress and I new that he wouldn’t need me to take care of him forever. With the encouragement of his physical therapist I decided to give college another shot. I also new what I was meant to do. I began taking prerequisites for the PTA program. I did it, I got in, I graduated and got my license. Not only do I help my son but help others as well. I know how it is on both ends. I have been there and parents of children I work with know this. I give my all to the people I work with everyday. Every patient I have worked with has had some type of impact on me. I wouldn’t change a thing!

  12. Mindi Bohrer said:

    I work in home and community based neuro-rehabilitation. I remember one patient who went through a period of life in his early 20’s where he wasn’t sure what he wanted to do. He ended up in Guatemala and fell out of a tree and suffered a traumatic brain injury. He came home to his parents home where we entered his life during his recovery. Years later, we heard from this man who said that his experience with our team of therapists turned his life around and he ended up going back to school and becoming an occupational therapist.

  13. I have only been a PTA for 4 years but had the pleasure of treating a gentleman that had coded 6 times while in surgery. His family was told to plan for hospice and to tell him their goodbyes. My PT and I were both pretty new to the field and we’re feeling like this patient needed to be our project because not only was this poor family dealing with the possibility of losing their husband, father and grandfather but they were losing the patients wife to stage 4 cancer. Not only were we able to get the pt up walking but we discharged him home with him walking without any assistive device he was strong enough to take care of his wife and to go from snf to snf and tell his story of how he went from severe depression and not doing any therapy to a hard working motivated patient. That one patient made me realize that I made the best choice in my life by going into physical therapy.

  14. Suzy Pennington said:

    I have been a PT since 1971..and have never stopped loving it. Since I am at the end of my career, I know I do not qualify, but 26 years of practice were with USA/USAR… I am proud to have served.and never regret having touched the lives of so many…and who on turn. Blessed my life in return….

  15. As a Neuro Rehab PT, I had the honor of working with some truly amazing individuals. One of my patients was a 16 year old young lady, who shared the same name as me, Kim! We worked together in therapy for about 3-4 months, as she battled many spinal and brain tumors, which resulted in paraplegia. Kim and I had a unique relationship, in that she was only about 7 years younger than me, so not only did we share a therapist/patient relationship, but we also shared a friendship/sister-like relationship. We enjoyed our times together in therapy and her drive and motivation to work hard was a true inspiration to everyone in the gym. Kim had a beautiful smile and endearing spirit, and she was such an encouragement to others. Many times, she would be in pain, but she simply smiled and worked to her best potential to complete the goals of that session. When we did outings out into the community, Kim always shared a laugh, a smile, and encouraged the other patients in their journey learning how to maneuver out in the community. I do not recall Kim ever having a negative disposition throughout her entire stay in rehab, including when she had set-backs of new tumors that popped up along her spine and brain, causing more impairments and disability. When Kim lost all of her hair, she started to wear some very fashionable head scarves in bright colors, to be a light to those she encountered on a daily basis. Kim was such an inspiration to everyone she met and we all benefited greatly from having her in our rehab those months. One day, the cancer had progressed to an incurable degree and she passed away, and our entire department and staff was full of remorse and sorrow. Kim was truly such a joy in my life, and even though it has been almost thirty years since we first met and journeyed that part of her life together, I still remember her smiles, laughs, and infectious joy she shared with me and so many others. The lessons I learned from her are invaluable. Many years after Kim and I shared this journey, I found myself with my own child with a life-threatening medical condition. My life turned upside-down as we struggled with his many illnesses, procedures, treatments, and surgeries. His condition required me to resign from Physical Therapy, so that I could take care of him and give him all of the love and attention he needed to grow and thrive. Some days were harder than others, and I felt such a burden for his condition and the “fairness” of what he goes through each day has at many times been hard to bear. However, I recall the light of my friend, Kim, and her infectious smile, her radiant joy, her enduring perseverance, and her reflection of love to everyone. It is moments of remembrance that I realize my mission here is not only to help patients to recover from illnesses, disease, and life-changing situations, but my mission is now focused on my own child, helping him to be all that he can be. As time has progressed, my son is now a senior in high school and looking at colleges to study Engineering. The blessings that have come from my profession as a Physical Therapist, have overflowed to my own personal life of being a mom and caregiver, and my friend/sister Kim was an integral part of inspiring me both professionally and personally throughout my life and to come.

  16. John-Keith Boswell PT, DPT said:

    I started as a PT working in acute care in a hospital in Arkansas. While in PT school I learned that we as a profession are often responsible for wound care which I found fascinating, my classmates did NOT. So while working at this hospital I became the primary wound care therapist. I had the privilege of working with a little 78 y/o lady from the local community who was a farmer with her husband. She was involved in a terrible accident where she was trying to hook a trailer up to a tractor with her husband and it fell onto her left leg basically de-gloving her LLE from thigh to foot. We spent months in the whirlpool and debriding the wound and wrapping it daily. As I treated this lovely lady everyday I got to know her son, daughters, and other family members who always talked to me like I was a part of the family. We would stand up and hug each day before she left. Well this went on as I said for months and she was healing excellent. She had an area on her medial thigh that was smaller than a dime and she would be healed. One morning she didn’t come in for her regular appointment. I tried to call her house with no answer. While on the phone her son came in and pulled me to the side and said his mother had an abdominal aortic aneurysm that burst and she passed away. I was devastated but he asked if I would come to her funeral service. I of course obliged. I came to service, walked up to her casket to pay my respects to her and her family, and went to my seat. Her son came up to me with more members of his family and introduced me as her “doctor” and the man who had worked on her wounds for months. I apologized for their loss and told them how special their mother had become to me. I also apologized for not being able to get her completely healed. His quote was this, “John you did a fantastic job and you prepared my mom to meet God and his angels with healed legs.” I began to cry, thanked them, and hugged them before leaving. This story has stuck with me for 10 years and is exactly why I became a therapist, to touch the lives of people I didn’t even have a clue I could. God Bless.

  17. Heidi Kanealy said:

    A middle aged man was referred to me by his family physician for eval and treat of hip pain, ITB syndrome, no specific mechanism. After I evaluated him, I didn’t think it exactly fit ITB syndrome, but there were some deficits I could address. After a few sessions, I just didn’t feel that he was responding as I would have expected to my treatments or interventions. I referred him back to his MD for imaging, which was met with a cold shoulder, but he was referred to orthopedics. He then had imaging, and long story short, was diagnosed with Stage 4 non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma that had metastasized to his hip. He was able to get to the right providers to treat his cancer and he made a full recovery. He kept in touch to let me know how he was progressing, and I followed the Caring Bridge page his family had set up for him. After he recovered, he called back to thank me for “saving his life” since I was the one the advocated for him and helped get the testing, diagnosis and care he needed. That was such an impactful case for me, as we don’t often work in conventional life-saving situations, and for him to say that meant the world to me. It also was a wonderful reminder of how much difference we can make in a patient’s life, and to stand behind my convictions. I could have let the family MD talk me out of my suspicions and kept treating him, maybe to the point where his recovery would have been affected. We as PTs do make a huge difference in our patient’s lives in so many ways!

  18. As a pediatric PT, I see big changes in little people and watch the world open up to them. Early in my career, I treated a child with a traumatic brain injury due to a car crash. No one thought this child would ever be able to walk again, including me. And yet, with lots of therapy and intervention, he did walk. As he walked across the stage of his preschool graduation, I was reminded to never count someone out. To always believe in the impossible, and to work every day to see it happen!!

  19. In 2004 my son, then 7 years old, contracted Viral Encephalitis and was in the ICU for about a week and then to Marianjoy Rehab Hospital for Physical, Occupational, and Speech therapies. At the time, I was working in the Aquatics field as manager of the pool and also taught swim lessons and aquatic exercise classes. During my sons hospital and rehab at Marianjoy I focused all my attention on being with him, and I was allowed to observe all of his therapy sessions since I was able to room-in with him at Marianjoy. I was thoroughly impressed with all of his therapists and the teamwork towards his goals for recovery and thought perhaps I might like to change my occupation into something in the health care field – maybe Nursing…because I felt the need to help others regain their health, strength, etc. My son was discharged to home after about 3 weeks of therapy and was home-schooled for part of his 1st grade year. In 2005 I discovered that my community college was offering a Physical Therapist Assistant course, and I was able to enroll in classes while working part-time which in total took me 4 years to complete. I felt that this was the perfect career direction for me, and I could later incorporate Aquatic therapy as an adjunct to my PTA career due to my aquatic background. Being a PTA has been very fulfilling and rewarding for me and I enjoy working as a team with the other therapists towards each persons’ individual goals.

  20. Janice Jones said:

    She almost died in ICU. This newlywed in her mid 40’s finally made it to telemetry. We went in and helped her up, and to our surprise she walked 100′ and looked out the window with her husband. We were all excited, and as I turned around to say something to her mother, I saw the lady crying, tears rolling down her face. She explained that she never expected to see her daughter walk again. THIS is why I love this profession after 26 years!!!

  21. I hunkered over and crouched as I scuttled across the floor towards the bed, following my instructions, given to me by the South African Government representative.
    The patient, an imposing black man, reclined on the pillows. Spanning the entire opposite wall were wooden racks, quite wide and three high. Displayed on them, at intervals, were an amazing array of military hats and caps of varied colours, adorned by badges and military insignia.
    I knelt down at his right side. “Never let your head be higher than that of the head of the country” I had been briefed.
    “Good morning, Mr Prime Minister”.
    “Hullo, Madam,” he intoned.
    “How are you?”
    He shrugged.
    I assessed his condition to be treated.
    We then commenced on appropriate exercises, assisted passive and aiming for active strength rehabilitation.
    We worked thus for forty five minutes, with intervals.
    A few leg circulatory exercises completed the session.
    “Please try to practise, Sir. It is very important to try to become strong again as soon as possible.”
    He nodded. We bade each other farewell. Tomorrow we would continue.
    His senior wife awaited me outside.
    “Please sit down, Miss.” She gestured a beautiful dining room chair in a yellow and red design. A tea tray was set on the table. She sat opposite me.
    “For our VIP guests, I always serve my special tea.” She picked up a gold cup.
    “This is real gold”.
    “Beautiful” I replied, shy as ever.
    She poured tea from the teapot. She then poured a creamy liquid from a milk-jug. “Condensed milk, very special”.
    I gasped inwardly. I am lactose intolerant and HATE sweetener in tea.
    “Thank you so much. How wonderful!” I exclaimed as best I could.
    I accepted the cup, and gingerly sipped the sweet concoction, trying not to gag.
    “Let me show you some photos” She stood up and pointed to some framed memories.
    There was one with the Queen and many more with varied countries’ heads of state. There were also memento gifts, such as pens, decorative teaspoons and small ornaments. She was very proud.
    I responded genuinely with awe and admiration.
    A half hour or so later, Paul, his right-hand diplomat, arrived to pick me up from the home in the country’s capital, and escort me back to the hotel. He was a slender, immaculate very attractive man, schooled in Eton and Cambridge.
    My esteemed patient and I worked at this routine daily, myself trying to facilitate movement and strength with all the tricks of my profession. On weekends, we exercised at his other home in a neighbouring city, where his junior wife lived. Tea with her was more as with a contemporary, and our conversations less formal.
    As I was driven back to the hotel, in the back of a large limousine, adorned with the country’s flag on the front, I wondered if I should chance the “Royal wave” to all the turning passers-by!
    It was certainly the closest I would get to being a Royal.
    This happened in the 1970’s. The Prime Minister presented me with an African beaded necklace when we bade each other farewell.
    I received a Christmas card, himself in full military regalia on the front cover.
    I still have and treasure these special mementos.

  22. Judy Leese said:

    I worked as a physical therapist for 45 years and felt blessed to have such a nifty profession. When trying to pick a college major, I originally chose medical technology.
    Within a few weeks my counselor at college talked with me and suggested I go to the physical therapy department at University Hospital and see how I liked the profession.
    There were 4 or 5 women standing around a pair of parallel bars around a small child. This child had just taken his first steps and all the staff were excited to see this incredible milestone. All had watched the child start out, work hard and succeed.
    So I switched professions and never looked back.

  23. Bonnie Lucio said:

    I was doing wound care earlier in my career and our whirlpool room was bustling with activity. One man was lying on a stretcher and had his leg hanging in a leg tank because he could not tolerate sitting up. He started yelling, “Miss Miss, I dropped my prosthesis.” I started looking all around for a BK prosthesis because he was an amputee. Come to find out it was his eyeball prosthesis that popped out and he wanted me to put back in. Needless to say, I did not have much experience in that area.

  24. Patsy Cantor said:

    I work in geriatrics and I quilt. I ask every one of my patients if they quilt regardless of gender. This past week a gentleman told me a story of how he came to quilting. He said on rainy or cold days he would sit with his mom under a quilt she worked on and they would quilt side by side and talk. His eyes were so far away and he smiled so big when he told me this. I love helping people recover and go home but what I love more is helping the soul recover. When it does you never forget the moment.

  25. Edna Santiago said:

    When I chose Philadelphia, Pennsylvania little did I know about the journey I would step into. I always dabbled in pediatric therapy, but this path lead to full time Homecare contract pediatric therapist. I resisted; I did not want to work in “that side of town” worried that an assault or a felon would interfere with my peace. But it was instead given to me with parents, grateful for teaching their babies how to roll, crawl, sit, stand and walk. I played all day and was paid for doing it. And the lasting memory is their smiles when I walked into the house ( after decades of frowns when I walked into a patient room). Yes, 40 years and it is hard to chose when I had the most fun. Last thing I did resonates clear as a bell, but the memories are all intertwined. We were all so blessed when we were given the opportunity to serve this way.

  26. Amy Mannino said:

    This is my funny and very true story!

    I had been working contract PT for quite some time so it was not unusual to be called in last minute to cover for a therapist who had to leave for a family emergency. The man I was evaluating at bedside was at a resting point so it was the perfect opportunity to sit down myself and write some notes . The next thing I knew, out of the corner of my eye, I saw this woman running into the room with open arms yelling my name. It took me about 2 minutes and for the woman to fully identify herself to realize that the gentleman I was evaluating was my husband’s uncle and the woman running, my husband’s aunt. They both had attended our wedding last year. I was so embarrassed!

  27. Years ago, I worked at a primary teaching hospital. My role was a Cardiopulmonary supervisor for the Chest Physical Therapy Division of the PT department. Part of our patient responsibilities was to proved pre-operative teaching and initial evaluation for patient baselines the day before surgery for the heart and lung scheduled procedures. One of the patients I went to see I noticed the total look of terror in his eyes and he paced around the room nervously. I remember engaging him in a conversation about his family and allowing him to voice his concerns before we got talking in detail. I explained the purpose of my visit to help him understand what the first day post-op would be like and what to expect from me as his cardioplumonary PT and the impact we would make for getting him working and back on his feet right after surgery. He was scheduled for CABG in the morning. So, we went through the usual explanation of the open heart procedure, why the breathing and gradual increase in exercise was important, the baseline evaluation, and allowed him to ask questions at the end. As we talked, I could see his facial features relaxing, as his overall body tension relaxed. As I was about to leave he said to me, “I am so glad you came to see me today. To tell you the truth, I was about to bolt, to sign myself out AMA because I was so scared. I am not as scared anymore because of all the time you took with me.” (I was working overtime as usual to get all the high work load done). It made me realize how going the extra mile made all the difference to this man and I was happy I could help him to calm down his fears. The next day, I waited outside the cubical as he was extubated, viatls checked and given the nurse’s nod to see him. His eyes bolted open wide as I walked towards him, a huge smile on his face under the breathing face mask. He grabbed my hand, and in his raspy just extubated voice said to me, “I’ve been waiting for you…been waiting to see your face because I know I’ve made it through OK.” I remember this patient fondly as a reminder of how I can impact a person by going the extra mile and how much a kind word and patience always makes the difference.

  28. Judy Cutler said:

    As a PT for over 43 years, I have many memorable moments. One of my favorites happened only a couple of years into my career. I was working in a Rehab center and was assigned a new AK amputee. This was nothing unusual until I met him and found he was totally blind and only spoke Italian. His goal was to be able to don/doff a prosthesis and ambulate enough to assist with transfers and make it into his bathroom at home as his wheelchair would not fit and he was unstable hopping. Needless to say, we had many laughs as I learned a few words of Italian, he learned a few words of English and we both learned other means of communication. I am proud to say he went home with all goals met!!

  29. Maura Gabriel said:

    I am currently working on a pragmatic research study, with individuals who have chronic pain. The approach is primarily education based and for some people, it resonates deeply. One individual in her 30s had lost so much, her work, volunteering at her childrens’ schools, and joy of physical activity. We worked on finding a path to activity that was important to her. We mapped small achievable steps and built on success to take more steps. Her underlying condition isn’t going away and she will have pain. But she has learned how to exert some control and to gradually grow function without exacerbating her symptoms. At our final visit she said,”I feel like I’m getting my life back.” She is the reason I do this.

  30. Patrick Hansen said:

    I will never forget my first patient treatment as a proud newly registered physical therapist. I was seeing the patient for heel pain and decided to use my “fresh out of school knowledge” on the beneficial effects of ultrasound for plantar fasciitis. I went through my protocol, checking contraindications, skin check, equipment check, etc. About half way through the application of the ultrasound I asked the patient how it felt. The patient replied “that feels great…but it would feel even better if it was on the foot that hurts!” The patient was too shy to speak up, but not to shy to follow up this comment with “So…how long have you been a therapist?” What was my response (as beads of sweat were hitting the ground)? “Oh…just a little while.” I’ve now been a therapist for 8 years and will always keep this patient in mind to keep me humble!

  31. Betsy Holmer said:

    Why I’m a PT? a childhood friend via our mothers being friends fell at school in gym and had xrays…shockingly this 13 yr old beautiful young woman was found to have osteogenic sarcoma and underwent a transtibial amputation. We went to different high schools but would see each other when our mothers were together. By age 15 she was being seen at Mayo Clinic and things were not looking well. However, this young lady was up and about on a prosthetic limb without any device and was complaining about how awful the physical therapy was and how much she hated all the work. I kept looking at her walking with such a wonderful gait pattern and hearing how she was about to take her driver’s test (she passed) and thought what a great field that must be to get someone to work so hard and accomplish so much. Up until then I wanted to go into medicine but the ability to work one on one with patients and do all the treatment planning was such a draw that I went into physical therapy.

  32. Anne Samuels said:

    Without details which may violate HIPPA I will never forget my patient who’s goal was to walk across stage to receive her college diploma. She was a paraplegic and used a wheelchair since she was injured in a fire. She reached her goal after a few detours and I got to see it happen as she was featured on the local news walking with the walker I lent to her!

  33. Jennifer Memolo said:

    I often become friends with my patients. One such patient commiserated with me that no one writes letters anymore. Even after we finished being therapist and patient, we became pen pals. We wrote letters back and forth for the better part of a year. Then she wrote me that she had been diagnosed with terminal cancer. She had a few months to live. I was sad, but we kept writing letters. Then the letters stopped. One day I received a letter from her husband telling me she had died the past weekend. I wept with sadness. I had lost a friend. But I was better for having known her, which would’ve never happened if I hadn’t been her therapist first.

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