3 Things I Have Learned As An Intern

Today’s blog post comes from the perspective of one of our interns.  Fresh faces offer new perspectives, so we think it would be interesting to share the insights of a soon-to-be physical therapy student and his perspective on what we do here at Perfect Stride Physical Therapy. 

My name is Joseph Santangelo, and I currently intern at Perfect Stride Physical Therapy. I am a senior at George Washington University studying Exercise Science with a concentration in Pre-Physical Therapy.

The next question you may ask is “Why did you decide on Physical Therapy?” The fundamental reason is; I want to empower people to have healthy, functional and pain-free lives. I’ve always appreciated the stories of people who have bounced back from gruesome or nagging injuries to carry out functional lives. Studying anatomy, therapeutic exercise, and injuries in a classroom setting is a lot different than learning about it in a practical application. I have learned a great deal of information; however, I will share three lessons from my experience.

1) Functional Range Conditioning (FRC)

FRC aims to improve functional mobility, articular resilience (improving threshold of loading muscle/joints), and articular health/longevity. This is done using a number of different modalities including Controlled Articular Rotations (CARs) and PAILs and RAILs contractions to reduce injury and improve performance.

PAILs and RAILs are valuable for acquiring larger ranges of motion (think mobility). Where CAR’s are used to improve awareness and control of our outer limit of our mobility, and serve as a great form of self-assessment.

The main point is that these tools are used to train and bolster the nervous system to not only have flexibility but also have strength and control in different positions. It is equally important to realize that there are many other layers to consider when treating a patient other than FRC (FRC is one part of the total system).


2) Individuality

Individuality is a major component in rehabbing an injury and/or developing an exercise program. Since the limitations/injuries stem from multiple areas, a good and concise assessment process should be taken to determine where to start.

Being creative with exercise choice, tissue mobilization, and patient positioning can make a big difference. I’ve seen this first hand whether that was me being challenged to create exercise programs or just noticing how each physical therapist at PSPT tries to target joints, muscles, and movement patterns in different ways.

For example, two patients could walk in with the same injury, but may need different levels of stimuli (depending on current health, level of fitness, genetics, age, etc.) to produce some form of adaptation.

These same two people may also have that injury because of different movement deficiencies and differences in their anatomy. This clearly demonstrates the varying degrees of individuality that have to be taken into consideration. Creative exercise choice and a good assessment tool go a long way towards helping patients succeed.  


3) Clinician/Patient Relationship

Because people have stressors and anxieties (aka life), trust and confidence will go a long way towards a holistic recovery. It is a lot more than just the physical injury! Getting to know the person for more than their injury/limitations really helps develop a better clinician-patient relationship. Therefore, being able to understand a person’s desires, goals, and ADL’s can help you become a better healthcare provider while also creating a plan of care that fits each patient.

My internship here at PSPT was full of learning and fun. Rehabilitation, like learning, is never a linear process. However, the ability to meet people where they are and challenge them appropriately will yield positive results. These three things I have learned will help my future career for a long time. I would like to thank Joe, Vikash, Dan, and Austin for the opportunity to become a better future physical therapist to help fulfill what I want in my life.


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