Recovery through physical therapy

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Collin Schmidt
  • 341st Missile Wing Public Affairs
The path to recovery can be a long road. For some, time and a visit to the doctor may be all that is needed. For others, in depth physical therapy routines and a drastic change in lifestyle for a period of time may be the only solution to an ongoing problem.

For Airmen in need of a helping hand, whether it be in the form of simple advice or hands-on treatment, the 341st Medical Group physical therapy center is there.

"What we do here in the physical therapy clinic is provide our patients with the knowledge and recovery techniques to help them through whatever injury or condition that may be bothering them," said Tech. Sgt. Hugo Reinor, 341st MDG physical therapy technician. "There are a variety of things we can do to help them recover. For example, if someone visits us after a shoulder or joint surgery, we will do range of motion exercises with them to help them get their movement back. Depending on the injury, there are a variety of tools and exercises we use to help them achieve a full recovery."

On average, the clinic's two full-time physical therapy assistants and lead physical therapist see 12 patients daily. Patients' cases can range from mild injuries, such as an injured joint, to severe problems such as a lengthy recovery from major intrusive surgery.

"You name an injury and we can teach someone the exercises to help them get better," Reinor said. "I believe physical therapy is very important, especially to our active-duty members. With all the men and women we have on deployments and even just with being active in sports we see a lot of reoccurring cases. If they don't have us here it's hard for those people to get better.

"Whatever someone's goal may be, we work with them so they can get back to where they want to be," he continued. "A person's goal may be to just get their ankle strong again after spraining it so they can get back to playing sports. Most people don't know how to treat themselves, or even where to begin, so we teach them while helping them get better; that way if they ever hurt themselves again they know what to do to get back on their feet."

To start the day, Malmstrom's physical therapists organize and prepare for patients they will be seeing that morning. From 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., roughly every 30 minutes another session begins and another patient starts the daily tasks required to help them to a full recovery.
While Malmstrom's clinic is smaller than most, the workload is consistent and there is always a recovery in process.

"I never really realized how much this job helped people until I saw patients of ours later on after treatment," said Airman 1st Class Kaitlyn Arteaga, 341st MDG physical therapy technician. "Post operations are definitely where we see the most improvement with our patients. When they come in, some can hardly move. Through hard work, over time we see them move and progress until eventually they are back to how they used to be.

"Motivation is key," she continued. "When people are motivated recovery comes a lot quicker."

If someone were to walk into the clinic on any given day they would be able to see the dedication the staff has to helping their patients get better. Exercise equipment would be spread about the room and you might even be able to hear the dull hum of a treadmill as a patient walks with the hope of one day running again. In the therapists' words, every day provides a new opportunity to make a difference.

"This is what I wanted to do ever since I joined the military," Reinor said. "Everyone's goals are different and every patient comes with their own set of challenges. It's not the same case every time. What I love about this job is that I get to help people get better."