Melissa graduated with a Bachelor’s Degree in Movement Science and completed her Masters in Physical Therapy from Touro College (now University) where she received the “Maimonides Award for Excellence”. She attained a Doctorate of Physical Therapy (DPT) from Simmons College. She worked at NYU Langone’s Medical Center/Rusk Institute of Rehabilitation with orthopedic and neurologic patients, and transitioned to the outpatient physical therapy setting. She is known for her compassion and great listening skills.
Listen to your body and don't push through an injury. If it persists, consider resting, taking a season off, or even changing sports. Seek medical help if necessary. Transcript: "The best piece of advice that I could offer someone with a sports-related injury is to listen to your body. If your body is hurting or feels tired or possibly that you're overusing your legs, your arms, such as a softball pitcher, really not to push through an injury. Your body is the best piece of advice for you to listen to. Never feel that you should keep playing or just keep working through an injury because that could actually hurt your body more. If the injury is persistent, then to really consider resting and not playing your sport and possibly taking a season off or even deciding that maybe your body isn't meant to do the sport that you're playing or working towards, injury really is your first sign that your body isn't adapting well to what you're doing. And you should always listen to it and take care of it and seek medical help if needed and when needed. And never to be a warrior like a lot of athletes are and try to be."
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Wear comfortable shoes with arch support, practice good body mechanics when lifting or transferring patients, and strength train to prevent injury. Transcript: "This is a good question. How do you protect your back when working on patients all day? I am a big advocate of good footwear. Anyone that knows me knows that I always look at the feet first. So wearing comfortable sneakers or cushioned shoes really is everything. With arch support, I even wear custom orthotics to correct for some imbalances in my own feet. So I protect my own back from the ground up. I also am very careful with how much I'm lifting and what I'm lifting and really practicing what I preach. So as I find myself teaching patients proper body mechanics, it's so key for me to use the best body mechanics myself. So if I'm moving a patient or transferring them or lifting weights in the clinic, I really have to engage my own abdominal muscles and really watch my own body mechanics so I'm not bending over and really protecting my own back and my muscles. I also strength train myself to make sure that I'm as strong as I can to try to prevent my own injury. So that's the hardest challenge that you want to help yourself while you're helping others."
Witnessing my brother's recovery from a femur fracture through physical therapy inspired me to pursue a career in physical therapy. Transcript: "What inspired you to pursue a career in physical therapy? My brother was injured when he was a counselor in camp. When he was 16, he collided with another softball player and unfortunately had a femur fracture that required surgery. And at the time, since he still was growing, they were concerned about his growth plates. So he needed orthopedic surgery with rod plates and screws in his femur. So I watched my brother go from running and jumping to then being injured, spending a summer in a long leg cast and really not being able to walk. So what inspired me was watching his journey battling back to recovery. His physical therapist at the time, her name was Leanne, and this was many years ago. I watched her motivate him and inspire him to get up again, to walk again, and then ultimately to run and to jump again. So seeing a personal family member was really touching and rewarding to see the benefits of physical therapy and to see how they could get someone basically up, moving, and even walking and running again. So I'm glad that I picked my field and I'm happy that it was inspired to me by my own family member, which was my brother getting injured."
To assess an injury before creating a treatment plan, I first look at the patient's range of motion amongst all joints and their strength. Then I try to figure out what the biomechanical reasons are for the injury, such as posture or weakness, and develop a treatment plan accordingly, focusing on strengthening and correcting posturing. Transcript: "How do I assess an injury before creating a treatment plan? When I have the patient first in front of me, I assess them by looking at how they walk, how they even come in and sit and really just get a feel for their movement patterns. I then do a pretty thorough physical therapy evaluation and really take a look at the patient's range of motion amongst all joints, especially the one that is injured. I then also look at their strength. The biggest thing in creating a treatment plan is really to put the pieces together to try to look at the biomechanical reasons why they might be having this injury such as their posture or the way they walk or where the weakness exists. And once I figure out what's leading to the injury, I then develop a treatment plan. For instance, if their hip, external rotators such as their glute muscles are weak and that's causing them to roll in their feet or pron, I will then target those muscles and give them individualized exercises to strengthen. So I first looked at the whole picture and then treat the things that need to be strengthened or more flexible or corrected, such as posturing."
To ensure physical therapy treatments are individualized to each patient, I take the time to get to know each patient's story and goals. This helps me create a personalized treatment plan that works for them. Transcript: "This is a great question. How do I ensure that my physical therapy treatments are individualized to each patient? This is really what I pride myself on. I own a very small outpatient practice and stand amongst many corporate chains. And I feel the benefit of being in a smaller environment is really to get to know each and every patient as an individual. And as a whole, I feel like the health care system and world has really gone to having limited time with patients and also starting to itemize them, you know, for instance, some doctors or orthopedists will be specialists and they will be the foot specialist or the shoulder specialist or maybe the neck specialist. And to me, I get the opportunity to get to know each and every patient that walks in my door. And even though they're coming to me for maybe a shoulder injury or a neck injury, I really, really take a step back and listen. And I think that's the key to making a very visualized treatment is getting to know their whole story, getting to even know their personal lives. I mean, nothing beyond what they're willing to tell me but to really put the whole picture together to know what their goals are in treatment because it's not about just what the health care provider sees. It's really up to the patient too."