Misawa physical therapy: Getting bodies back in motion
MISAWA AIR BASE, Japan -- When Airmen suffer from illness or injury, motor functions can be adversely compromised creating a need for a trained specialist.
Providing services that help restore function, improve mobility and relieve pain, the 35th Medical Operations Squadron physical therapy team works closely with patients to help them heal and achieve overall wellness.
“When the patients come in, we get started with their treatment exercises,” said Staff Sgt. Kelly Kofford, a 35th MDOS physical therapy technician. “This can consist of anything from exercises to different types of modalities, range of motion or manual therapy. Then we usually end sessions with ice to help cope with the pain.”
To assist with patient rehabilitation, technicians use a variety of equipment and exercises such as the anti-gravity treadmill and balancing exercises, as well as therapeutic techniques like dry needling and foam rollers to alleviate pain and strengthen muscles and tendons. Other exercises include dumbbells, exercise bungee cords and aerobics steps which are used alongside icing and heating the affected area.
“Throughout the past few months, I’ve lost a significant amount of muscle in my legs due to multiple surgeries for a Lisfranc injury," said Senior Airman Deana Heitzman, 35th Fighter Wing public affairs photojournalist and a physical therapy patient. "These PT appointments have helped pinpoint my weaknesses, and ensure they’re getting back to what they use to be – or even better. With the PT team's help, I have no doubt I will achieve a full recovery and continue to complete my primary duties now and in the future.”
Physical therapy technicians can also help patients recover from muscle and bone problems through implementing specialized exercise programs and treatments.
“The purpose of exercises are to help strengthen the muscles that are utilized for activities and do not function well due to weakness,” said Tech. Sgt. Maybelle McKinney-Martin, 35th MDOS physical therapy flight chief. “We strengthen the muscles people aren’t used to working out that are essential for movement. An example is that walking may be a simple activity, but there are so many muscles working together to achieve that. We help fine tune the muscles for the patients to be able to continue activity without pain.”
From identifying problems to developing and implementing a care plan, these specialists work with patients as long as necessary for them to resume healthy, active lifestyles.
“My job is the best because I get to help people every day,” said McKinney-Martin. “I get a chance to see all my patients’ progress and help them. Seeing someone first come in using their crutches and later on running after having surgery months ago is truly gratifying.”