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What I Enjoy The Most About Physical Therapy

As a child growing up, I accidentally dropped one of my father’s heirloom silver pocket watches down the stairs. I stood frozen in time as the watch tumbled down the stairs bursting open, spewing gears and springs everywhere.

 

Growing up with parents as engineers, I always took an interest in “how things worked.”  I figured, how hard could this be to put back together? After all, I had spent a lot of time fabricating with my parents in the shop.  I surely would be able to find all of the parts and without a doubt, I would be able to reassemble the watch… or so I thought. I spent the better half of that first Saturday morning collecting every piece of the watch I could find. I systematically scanned each stair in a grid fashion, paying careful attention to any shiny objects.  Eventually I recovered all of the pieces with the help of a magnet.

 

Next, came the tedious part.  How did every gear, spring, and movement arm assemble correctly into this tiny pocket watch?  Being a Millennial with early access to the internet paid off and after some time searching, I stumbled upon a diagram to reassemble the watch. There were many failed attempts to tension the springs, to hold each gear in the proper location, and to place the correct pins into the allotted slot; however I finally assembled the watch. I was so excited - mission accomplished, right?  Wrong!  After winding the watch, to my surprise, I had switched two gears early on in the process and now the watch only spun backwards; the hour hand rotated like the second hand and the minute hand was stationary like the hour hand. Although I fell short of my goal and never re-opened the pocket watch to fix my error, I learned invaluable lessons throughout the whole experience.

 

Rolling forward a decade or two, I have now practiced as an Athletic Trainer for about 10 years and as a Physical Therapist for about 6 years. I can say this, my passion remains unchanged. The human body is a remarkable complex system of mechanical pulleys and levers. Just like the challenge of reassembling the pocket watch, I enjoy the challenge of working with patients to rebuild what they have lost. I enjoy the challenge of understanding and identifying dysfunctional movement patterns, determining the root cause, and understanding the patient’s compensatory strategies. And like assembling the pocket watch the wrong way, I have learned it will take multiple theories and strategies in physical therapy to find the right solution for each unique patient.