A Physical Therapist’s Day [Interview][Transcript]

amy-bell_pt_dpt_injury_managementGuest: Amy Bell, PT, DPT
Presenter: Neal Howard
Guest Bio: Amy Bell has been a physical therapist at the Niles Athletico since 2005. She joined the company after completing her Doctor of Physical Therapy degree from Central Michigan University. Amy attended the University of Michigan for her undergraduate degree and competed on the Women’s Gymnastics Team. While at Michigan, Amy was a 2-time All-Big Ten Team Member, a member of 4 Big Ten Championship Teams, and competed in 3 NCAA Championships during her college career.

Segment overview: Amy Bell, a physical therapist with Athletico Physical Therapy, discusses an average day on the job which often means helping Olympic athletes with injury management and designing injury prevention programs.

Health Professional Radio – A Physical Therapist’s Day


Neal Howard: Hello and welcome to Health Professional Radio. I’m your host Neal Howard in studio with Amy Bell, returning to talk with us about the day to day happenings on the job as a physical therapist which sometimes means helping Olympic athletes with injury management or possibly designing injury prevention programs for some of her clients. Hello and welcome to the program Amy.

Amy Bell: Thank you for having me.

N: Thank you so much for returning. You are a physical therapist with Athletico Physical Therapy. Talk a bit about Athletico Physical Therapy.

A: Athletico Physical Therapy is a company that was founded in the Chicagoland area and now we have expanded to nine different states.

N: And do you deal only in sports medicine or do you treat any injury that may require physical therapy?

A: We will treat any injury that may require physical therapy, we treat women’s health patients, we treat workman’s compensation, we vestibular patients, we treat patients with back pains, knee pains, shoulder pain, really anything that someone may need physical therapy for.

N: And how did you become a physical therapist with Athletico?

A: So actually when I was in physical therapy school, I injured my back and so I wanted to receive physical therapy. So I did little research and I came upon Athletico, I actually was a patient at Athletico prior to taking my job there. So I got to tried out first and I loved it right from the start.

N: Were you interested in physical therapy at the onset of your medical career?

A: I was. I had great experiences in physical therapy as a gymnast with injuries when I was a child and I also experienced some injuries in college as an athlete and it kind of helped me to become a physical therapist after college.

N: So you’ve got a well-rounded knowledge in both an experience and the clinical as far as physical therapy goes having been a patient and a student as well as an athlete getting those injuries. It sounds extremely busy, I mean you wake up or do you have a list of things that you’ve got on the itinerary or do you just play as it lays when you walk in the door and say, “Okay, what’s going to happen now? Let’s go.”

A: Well I have a great schedule so I know who I’m going to see that day, but it is a lot about multi-tasking, just kinda you know people come in, you figure out how they’re doing and then you set your plan for the day and then you start running. So it’s a very fast paced career but it’s also very fun and challenging and you get to be creative and you get to see people get better which is the best part of the job.

N: When someone is referred to a physical therapist, we’re already shelling out for the practitioner, we’re already shelling out to participate in the sport that we’ve chosen to participate in or that our kids have chosen to participate in. How cost effective is physical therapy and how often do you see that as a factor in whether or not someone does physical therapy?

A: Well I think we’re experts in injury prevention, so I think sometimes we can provide education early on to possibly stop the injury right in the beginning when it is in the early stages, so we prevent it from getting worst. Also we’re very knowledgeable in just treating all different kinds of injuries so we can figure out what’s going on, make that corrections with your mechanics, teach you some exercises and hopefully prevent this injury from occurring in the future and getting back to doing what you want to do.

N: The cost effectiveness, is that the physical therapy pays for itself and that you can get back to normal life?

A: Exactly and sometimes if you can get into physical therapy and at first maybe you thought you needed surgery but actually just correcting your mechanics then learning good body mechanics and different habits that can prevent you from having to have that surgery.

N: Now during your day to day experience as a physical therapist, how knowledgeable do you find that patients are about the techniques and then modalities that you’re going to use to get them better? Do you find yourself having to educate as well as treat or do the athletes pretty much know what you’re going to do when they get there?

A: I think there’s a huge piece of education that we provide and I think they might have a general knowledge as someone told them what physical therapy is all about, but I really think it’s the education that we provide about the body and their injury and what to expect and what the future holds for them with this injury. I think that’s so important and I think it put patients at ease and makes want to get better to get back to 100%.

N: The medical field is often or there are complaints that we keep going back to the doctor with the same thing, we’ve had this drug and that drug and this surgery and that surgery. When it comes to physical therapy, are we talking about you seeing patients and once you’ve got them on the right track you probably won’t see them again, is that a good thing?

A: Well I guess that is a good thing because then I’ve taught the patient how to take responsibility for their health and for their injuries so they kind of know what to expect and if the symptoms do start to occur I hope I’ve taught them the right stretches or the exercises to at least try to see if they can get their symptoms under control for it not to start to get worst. So I do think that patients learn a lot from their experience in physical therapy that can help them in the future.

N: Now dealing with the physical body, I guess from a muscular and skeletal standpoint whatnot, how often do you recommend that a person either continue with prescription drug therapy for an injury or basically is your goal to wean them away from having to deal with the problem chemically at all?

A: Well we really don’t deal with any of the chemical or the medication side of it. Obviously most people come to you and they don’t want to take medication and they want to get off of it as soon as possible so I try to get them an avenue to do that. I try to teach them how to sit properly at their desk or how to stretch properly before and after they run so that it doesn’t become an issue and they can stop taking the medication if their pain is going away.

N: What would you say to the physical therapy practitioner that gets rather attached to the patient? You’ve been dealing with them for some time or maybe 6 months or so and now that patient is better, they’re well and as far as you’re concerned it’d be good if you never saw him again but you really connected and how do you deal with the patient that doesn’t seem to want to let go?

A: Well I think my favorite thing is when I see the patients on the community and they’re doing well and they’re doing what they enjoy so that’s really rewarding to me. We always joke, I hope to see you at Target not at the clinic because hopefully you’re doing fine. Some patients, it is scary to have to be discharged from therapy and start doing things on their own but hopefully we’ve given you the confidence and the tools to take care of yourselves and reach your own goals and then they also know that we’re available at the clinic if they have questions or we do offer a free screen which is a free 30 minute screen with a health professional and the patient can come back in and just discuss any current complaints or if they’re having any issues with a past injury and we might be able to give them some exercises and some advice for moving forward.

N: Great. Well it’s been a pleasure talking with you Amy.

A: You too, thanks for having me today.

N: Thank you. You’ve been listening to Health Professional Radio, I’m your host Neal Howard in studio with Amy Bell, physical therapist with Athletico Physical Therapy. Transcripts and audio of this program are available at healthprofessionalradio.com.au and also at hpr.fm and you can subscribe to this podcast on iTunes.

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