A SPORTS MEDICINE TEAM APPROACH TO REHAB AND TRAINING
It was a Wednesday around noon.
I just walked into the facility for my usual shift as a Physical Therapy Rehabilitation Coach where I work directly alongside the Head Physical Therapists in a facilitating role. Earlier that morning I ran our group fitness class, along with two back-to-back semi-private training sessions in the role of a Strength & Conditioning Coach.
During my shift, I noticed a physical therapy patient walking in.
My first instinct when I see someone come into the clinic is to watch how that person walks. Watching how someone walks tells you a lot about that individual’s baseline of movement.
In our profession in the rehab and fitness field, it’s not uncommon to do this – actually, it’s quite normal. It’s what we do. We watch people move. We analyze and assess. It’s a constant process.
I noticed an abnormal gait pattern in this patients’ walk, and an aggressive shift toward one hip. This stood out to me. I’m not one to be shy to ask questions either, so I proceeded to speak with David Koehn (MPT, ATC, Cert. DN, PES, TPI CGFI-MP3, President, Owner, Physical Therapist at Boston Physical Therapy & Wellness in Medford, MA) about it. After receiving full permission and consent to speak with David and the patient about her current diagnosis and treatment goals, I began to realize what was truly going on.
Our other physical therapist, Dr. Danielle Adler (PT, DPT, Cert. DN), came over to share her professional clinical thoughts as well. What ensued was a two-hour long discussion about hip anatomy, joint motion, and both treatment and movement-based solutions toward resolving the issues that this particular patient was presenting.
This isn’t something you see every day in your typical sports performance center, nor is it something you see in your typical physical therapy rehabilitation outpatient clinic. This sparked me to express my thoughts on this topic over social media, which ClinicalAthlete proudly represented and shared.
We operate as a sports medicine and performance team in a facility that places “we” before “I”. We place the client, patient, and athlete as the top priority through our personalized care approach to treatment and training (we just received a front-page newspaper write-up on our recent success – http://medford.wickedlocal.com/article/20160120/NEWS/160129662).
As a Strength & Conditioning Coach, it’s refreshing and constantly stimulating to work alongside Physical Therapist’s who truly understand that movement, training, and exercise have to happen for the physical therapy and rehabilitation side of things to work. Rehab and training ultimately mean the same thing. It’s a learning experience each day for me in our facility.
On the other side, our Physical Therapists are open to learning from the performance end of things, too. Our overall “bag” of correctives, prehab-rehab drills, strength training, breathing, aerobic capacity, recovery, and mobility exercises overlap each other, which can speak to our team approach. We don’t act as two separate entities – we act as one. This is the way it should be. Remember, iron sharpens iron. We keep each other sharp.
Each member of our sports medicine and performance team brings unique strengths to the table that compliments each other. This helps to enhance our overall toolbox for ways in which to help each individual athlete, patient or client. However, the most important aspect of what we do is that each of us knows our role. We practice what we preach and we fit into the team model by respecting our individual scope of practice.
Our team model to rehab and training works so well for patients, athletes, and clients, because it allows everything to happen in one place. Not only is it more convenient for them, it also allows them to schedule physical therapy appointments and training sessions back-to-back, where both the PT’s and I speak the same language, and can modify/adjust on the spot, if needed. By working as a team, we’re able to not only constantly learn from each other, but also compliment each other’s work. Ultimately, this leads to a better outcome for our athletes, clients and patients. We want to place them in the best position to succeed, both from a health standpoint and a fitness standpoint.
It doesn’t matter how good your program is, how good of a coach or therapist you are, or how intelligent you may be – the health and safety of the athletes and clients you have the privilege of working with should always the top priority. Where each individual athlete is on the continuum of health might differ, but the intent and end goal is always the same: improve movement qualities to enhance function and performance.
Although members of our team are credentialed and certified in a host of areas (i.e., physical therapy, dry needling, athletic training, massage therapy, strength & conditioning, functional movement screening, running mechanics & gait analysis, and nutrition & wellness coaching), this does not mean we all practice each outlet. It means that we respect our individual scopes of practice and what we are specifically certified and credentialed in to better serve the athletes, patients, and clients.
This helps to create an atmosphere that fosters long-term development for athletic performance and enhanced movement capabilities. It also helps to have all of these services in-house, so that our clients don’t have to travel from place to place. When one of our in-house training clients is dealing with a short-term musculoskeletal setback, we can simply refer that client to one of our Physical Therapists to help solve the problem. The same can be said for an athlete who has been cleared from rehabilitation and is ready to begin the training process. Two minds always work better than one.
Each of us has a specific role in the sports medicine and performance process that helps the overall team. This is something that we all have a high level of respect for. By sticking to our standards and doing our job, we are better able to help each individual athlete/client/patient get closer to his or her specific performance goals. It also helps to look at things as a long-term process. We look at the overall spectrum of health, not just what happens in the short-term. We use each other as a sounding board to continually grow and develop, and ultimately, to make the team better.
We are never going to tell someone to stop moving. That’s just not who we are. We all partake in some form of training, albeit through powerlifting, strongman training, kettlebell training, marathon running, triathlon competitions, recreational sports. This provides us with the in-the-trenches experiences, which enhances our abilities to help athletes/clients/patients, since we’ve been there in their shoes as well.
The ultimate mission we adhere to as a sports medicine and performance team is to help our athletes, patients, and clients build stronger, more resilient human movement and performance. We want them to achieve their movement, maximize their performance, and maintain their overall health. It’s important to surround yourself with those on the same mission as you.
In our eyes, the athlete, patient, and client always come first.
About The Author
Matthew Ibrahim is based out of Boston Physical Therapy & Wellness in Medford, MA. He works with athletes of all levels from professional to weekend warriors and focuses with sound training principles, and a focus on long-term goals.
Matt has started his own entity called, Movement Resilience, that is focused on improving human performance in a safe and sustainable way.
“If you want a quality, act as if you already have it.” –Matt Ibrahim
To learn more info about Matthew S. Ibrahim and the awesome team of providers that he works with, check out their ClinicalAthlete profile page HERE.
Boston Physical Therapy & Wellness Links
Movement Resilience Links