August 2010, I remember it like it was yesterday. My family and I flew to San Antonio, I was in my dress blues and very excited to have finally graduated from the most difficult academic course I had ever studied. I graduated from the U.S Army Baylor DPT program and was ready to change the world.
I arrived at my first job as the Assistant Chief of the Schofield Barracks PT Clinic (that’s in Hawaii; not a bad military assignment). After a few months of grinding out a fairly high volume patient load, I began looking for opportunities to get out the clinic. One of these opportunities was to help teach new program called the Advanced Tactical Athlete Conditioning program (ATAC, currently run by a stud ATC/CSCS, Neil Santiago). It was great; I taught speed, agility, distance running techniques and some basic bodyweight training. I was also able to positively impact soldiers before they got hurt by improving their conditioning and movement quality.
A few months later I moved to the 2nd Brigade 25th Infantry Division as a Brigade Physical Therapist. I was given 100% say over what I did from a day to day basis. I immediately started setting up my schedule to teach all kinds of strength and conditioning courses. I taught courses on POSE running, basic programming, Olympic lifting, powerlifting, speed, agility, and advanced bodyweight training. I noticed a trend that the more I taught on strength and conditioning the fewer patients I would see for injuries. What an obvious conclusion, right? As the soldiers learned how to train their bodies to move more efficiently they experienced less injuries.
When we saw patients the emphasis focused on movement, retraining, and education on how to maintain an optimal body through mobility techniques. We saw our average visits per patient drop and people started taking ownership of their own rehab process. We didn’t count reps for people. We were teachers and expected our patients to do what we taught if they wanted to get better.
Fast forward 5 years and here I am writing this blog before I go teach squat mechanics at a local CrossFit gym here in Atlanta. I may not wear a uniform everyday or try to fix a bunch of broken soldiers, but I still teach those same core concepts. This really is the future of physical therapy: education. More specifically we have to teach movement education. This is a blend of strength, conditioning and what we learned in physical therapy school (diagnostic skills, primary care, manual therapy, neuro re-education). I’m going to make a bold statement... the hybrid strength coach/physical therapist model is the future of physical therapy.
Recently, a fellow PT colleague commented on a blog I wrote Four Keys to Picking the Right Physical Therapist. In her comment she summarized my post by stating if she doesn’t do CrossFit and deadlift, then she is not a good physical therapist. Although she was being sarcastic, she was offended by my post. I replied that you don’t have to do CrossFit to be a good PT but you have no excuse to not deadlift regularly. Why would anyone who understands even the basics of strength, conditioning and movement tell someone to not deadlift unless they had significant trauma that stopped them from doing so? What are you going to do, ask other people to pick up your grocery bags off the ground for you the rest of your life? Sorry lady, but you need to deadlift. The deadlift isn’t dangerous, being a physically weak person is dangerous.
This mindset must change and it starting. Physical therapists across the country are flocking to the “PhysioCoach” model. If you’re an athlete that is injured, you need to seek out a PhysioCoach Physical Therapists. Their knowledge will not only help you recover from injury but help you reach your athletic goals, whatever they may be.
I’m excited for the future of Physical Therapy and I’m looking forward to help lead the charge!
If you're in the Atlanta area and you want to work with one of these hybrid physical therapists let us know. Leave us you're information and we're contact you for a free 10 minute phone consultation to see if you're a good fit for what we do.
-Dr. Danny, PT, DPT
Dr. Danny and staff's views on performance improvement, injury prevention, and sometimes other random thoughts.