Category Archives: Luke

A Truly Blessed Opportunity

Confession time….I have broken a promise. Well sort of. While I know I said that I would be back with more tips this month, I got to volunteer with the Special Olympics this past week, and I absolutely had to share the experience with you all. But never fear! Next month, I will be back with more tips (maybe I shouldn’t promise this time though =). So without further ado, here is a reflection paper, about the Special Olympics, that I wrote for class. Enjoy!

What a truly awesome opportunity it was to be able to volunteer and help with this past Friday’s Special Olympics. Coming in to the day, I had expectations that it would be a lot of fun and that it would be a unique opportunity; however, these expectations were blown wide open on the actual day. Not only was it a ton of fun to just play with the athletes, but it was also an incredible insight into the lives of these people. Given that I was manning the basketball station, I was thankful to be able to obverse three things during the day: relationships being made, the movement capabilities of this population, and the different forms of communication used throughout the day.

Probably the best part of the whole day was the fact that I felt like, in a few short hours, I was able to form a bond with a lot of the athletes. The basketball station was very popular, and therefore I got to see a number of “regulars.” As these athletes made multiple rounds through our station, I remembered certain things about each of them and was thus able to joke around with them and talk with them about how their day was going. One of my favorite athletes was a gentleman using a power chair. Each time he came around, he would make jokes about showing us how “Jordan does it” and would make sure to point out that he would be coming back soon. Again, while it was only a few short hours, it was a true blessing to be able to share these laughs and share in the joy that these athletes experienced from doing an activity that I take for granted.

Another thing about the day that blew me away was the fact that these athletes completely destroyed my pre-conceived notions about how well they’d be able to move. I lost count of the number of athletes that made their very first shot, and a number of the younger kids were throwing down dunks that would have put Blake Griffin to shame. While there were some athletes that had more profound movement difficulties, it was really awesome to see the compensatory movement strategies that these athletes used to overcome their challenges.

Lastly, communication, both verbal and non-verbal, was another thing that I observed throughout the day. Again, while many athletes had communication difficulties, a large majority of them had adopted compensatory non-verbal communication strategies. I honestly can’t remember more than maybe one or two athletes with whom I had true communication difficulties. In addition to my communication with the athletes, seeing the athletes communicate with one another was heartwarming indeed. Given that we only had one ball, I loved seeing how willing the athletes were to share with another, and they frequently offered encouragement to whoever was shooting. Guess that just goes to show how thankful I am that this day completely got rid of some of the CLEARLY incorrect pre-conceived notions that I held about these athletes.

I know this reflection was only supposed to be 2-3 paragraphs, but the fact that I could keep writing about this day for another couple pages is a testament to how much I enjoyed the day. These athletes, despite the challenges they face, display an absolutely infectious joy for living. I think we would all do well to be mindful of their example and to remember that no challenge is big enough to take the joy out of life.


Thinking PT School? Here Are Some Tips! – Part 1

While it’s not application season quite yet, if you’re reading this and thinking about applying to PT school, I’ve got some tips to prepare you for the process. In addition to advice for the application process, I’d also love to share some suggestions about how to prepare for PT school itself. As you can see from the title, I’ve got lots of advice brewing in the ole’ noggin, so I’ll be sharing a few tips each month for the next few months! So without further ado……

  1. Like I said, while the application process is still a few months away, it can’t hurt to start getting familiar with the schools in which you’re interested. While PTCAS has greatly simplified the process, I’d still recommend making some kind of chart, table, or other document that can help you keep track of the specific requirements for each school. There are some subtle differences between schools, and I guarantee that organizing all the information will make the whole process much easier!
  2. If you’re applying during your senior year of undergrad, seriously consider and take some time to think about whether you would benefit from taking time off before starting PT school. And I mean more than just the few months between. Important disclaimer – I took two years off before starting school so I’m a little biased. With that said, it was a HUGE benefit for me to take some time off, work in the field of PT, and learn how to live in the “real world.” Make no mistake, PT school, while sharing some similarities with undergrad, is strikingly similar to the working world. Therefore, having these two years to learn to navigate things like bills, insurance, etc. prevented me from having to stress about learning the ropes once I hit PT school. Now I want to make it clear that I’m not at all saying this approach is for everyone. Obviously, a lot of people do perfectly fine with going straight to grad school. However, I do want to emphasize that it can’t hurt to ponder the possibility!
  3. Volunteer, shadow, or work in a number of different PT settings. When I started down the path towards PT school, I didn’t even know that inpatient or acute care therapy even existed. Outpatient ortho was what PT was in my head. Thankfully, I ended up discovering and working in Inpatient Rehab and absolutely loved it. That experience really ignited my passion for PT, and I wouldn’t have found that passion had I not branched out into new territory. Aside from potentially discovering a new passion, working in varied settings also has the benefit of vastly improving the strength of your application!


That’s all for this month! More on the way next month, and thanks for reading!

That’s All Folks

As I sit here writing this, I have a newfound appreciation for how fast one can blitz through an eight-week span. Eight weeks ago, we started our first clinical experience….and now in the blink of an eye, we’re done. Whoa.

It all went by so fast that I’ve barely had time to reflect on the clinical itself. However, one thing I’ve taken away already is that I’ve still got a long way to go and a lot to learn before becoming a licensed PT. Don’t get me wrong though; I say this in an optimistic tone and with great excitement. While there is certainly a lot left to learn, I love the process of furthering my skills and gaining new knowledge that will help me be a better PT. Also, while the clinical was a blur, that’s not to say that I didn’t learn a ton of good things through this experience! I had the great pleasure of working with some fantastic patients and a great CI, and I loved finally being able to take a break from the classroom and put my skills to work.

Speaking of the classroom, following a one week break, we’ll be back to class for 16 weeks to learn all about the nervous system and all its many wonderful complexities. I certainly loved my ortho classroom and clinical experience, but this upcoming neuro module is what I’ve had my sights on for quite some time. I love the complex workings of the brain and its effects on our physical state, and I’m already looking forward to applying our upcoming neuro knowledge during our next set of clinicals! Neuro here we come!

Ain’t Nothin’ Like the Real Thing

As Marvin Gaye says, “ain’t nothin’ like the real thing.” Now I know you’re thinking “wait a minute, I thought this was a student PT blog, not a music blog!?” Well it is a student PT blog, and it just so happens that the lyrical genius of Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell perfectly applies to how I’ve felt during this first month of our first clinical. Allow me to explain….

For the last five months of 2014, my classmates and I practiced a plethora of musculoskeletal assessment techniques and interventions. Fortunately, we had 48 different people with whom to practice these techniques. Unfortunately, only a small handful of us had the given pathologies that these techniques and interventions were intended to treat. Therefore, we all came out of our last module feeling pretty good about our technique but having little to no concept about what these things actually looked like with real patients.

What’s that you said Marvin?? Ain’t nothing like the real thing?? So true!!! When it comes to using all the techniques and interventions that we’ve learned, there really is nothing like applying them to a real patient with a real pathology. Within the first 4 hours of my clinical, I was blown away by the realization of how different it feels to perform a joint mobilization on a pathological joint versus a healthy joint. While I’m not at all implying that our coursework didn’t prepare us, I am confident in saying that you really can’t appreciate what you learn in PT school until you actually stand in front of a real patient with real pain. But what an awesome month it’s been so far!! I’ve certainly realized that I’ve still got MUCH to learn, but it has been so much fun and so exciting to actually work with real patients!! Can’t wait to see what the second month holds, and while I know you might be tempted to just say you “Heard It Through the Grapevine,” check back here in a month to see “What’s Going On” in the clinic!

“Hey Mom, please pass the mobilizations, errr I mean stuffing.”

At long last, Thanksgiving break is here!! As we approach the end of the infamous Module IV, I think I speak for all my classmates when I say that this break is well placed and much needed. However, as the title might suggest, PT is still on the brain, and we’ve got a lot left to study before we finish up and head out for our first clinical. Despite the studying, the hustle and bustle that comes with the end of the module, and the head-spinning thought of us somehow having reached the end of our first year, there is much to be thankful for! So without further ado and in honor of Thanksgiving, I present to you the inaugural Elon DPT 2016 list of thankfulness!!

10 Things the Elon DPT Class of 2016 is Thankful For

  1. Soon we get to head out on our first clinical and get a chance to practice our passion!
  2. The Francis Center – it truly is a world class facility
  3. We’ve had the chance to learn from some pretty stellar clinicians during our orthopedic module, and we’re thankful for how they’ve prepared us for our first clinical.
  4. The countless intramural championships that the Elon DPT 2016 ladies have been reeling in (don’t worry gentlemen, we’ll get one soon).
  5. The chance to relax and spend time with family and friends over Christmas Break, before we head out for Clinical Uno.
  6. When we’re done with this module, we’ll be second years!!
  7. In just a few short months, the Francis Center fountain will awake from it’s slumber and signal the onset of the wonderful season of spring.
  8. We’ve all done some pretty awesome research this module, and we’re going to get to share it with each other when we get back from Thanksgiving break.
  9. There’s a new class of first years coming in at the beginning of 2015, and we’re excited to mentor them/show them the ropes!
  10. Time to get sentimental….we’re thankful for each other. We’ve spent A LOT of time with each other during this fourth module, and we’ve grown even closer than we already were. Definitely gonna miss everyone while we’re out on clinicals, but I’ll be excited to hear about all the amazing experiences we’ll no doubt get to have while on clinicals!

Well I hope everyone has a wonderful Thanksgiving filled with lots of turkey, football, and therapeutic exercise….uhhh I mean pecan pie. Cheers and Happy Thanksgiving!!

Time Flies

Did you know that there are approximately 10,568 different sayings about time??? OK, so maybe I don’t actually know the true number of sayings, but doesn’t it seem like there could be that many?? Regardless of the actual number, one of my personal favorite sayings comes from the one and only Ferris Bueller. In the movie Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, Ferris very accurately states that “Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in awhile, you could miss it.” So true Ferris, so true. For the DPT class of 2016, life is indeed moving pretty fast. We’re two-thirds of the way through our orthopedic module, we’re starting to conclude our research projects, and we’ll be in the clinic in two months time!!

One of our professors recently pointed out to us that, just as Ferris says, sometimes we forget to “stop and look around.” And how true that is! I think that we’ve gotten so busy recently that we’ve forgotten how amazing it is that, in a relatively short timespan, we’ve come from knowing little to nothing about how to treat musculoskeletal impairments to feeling pretty confident in how to evaluate and treat someone with back pain or leg pain (arm and shoulder pain still to come!).

It’s pretty crazy to think about how fast this year has gone and equally crazy to think about all that we’ve learned in our first year! I’m sure it will only move faster as we continue on into the curriculum but a big thanks to Ferris and to our professors for reminding us to stop and take a moment to be proud of the PT’s that we’re becoming!

Elon DPT Class of 2016 …aka a room full of Sherlocks

It’s hard to believe, but we’re officially a third of the way done with our orthopedic module! The spine has been conquered, and now we’re focusing in on the legs. As we’ve been discussing these oh-so-important structures that get us from point A to point B, I’m becoming more and more aware that treating a patient who presents with an orthopedic condition is like pretending I’m Sherlock Holmes reincarnated as a PT (pardon the comparison but it’s true!). From the moment we lay eyes on the patient and begin to observe their gait and posture to the moment we prescribe them with a home exercise program, we have to take a whole bunch of information and try our best to piece it all together. Sometimes, figuring out a patient’s impairment(s) is easy, and the pieces of the puzzle seem to fit together very neatly. Unfortunately, most of the time it feels a bit like trying to find a needle in a haystack.

So my dear Watson, how do we make this process easier on ourselves? Well first of all we practice! While there certainly are some cases that are just flat out difficult, there are some patterns to look for in many orthopedic conditions. For instance, if I were to suspect that my patient might have arthritis in his or her hip, I would expect him or her to complain of hip tightness/stiffness in the morning, among other things. To further aid our cause, we also seek out the professional wisdom of our professors, and we find out what the current research has to say. While PT certainly isn’t “elementary,” we’re getting a better grasp on our sleuthing skills and learning how to make the puzzle pieces fit!