The Memorial Regional Health physical therapy team. Pictured above: Carol Sitlington, MPT; Danika Jost, PT, DPT, CLT; Ryan Shawcroft, PT, DPT; Connie Johnson, MSPT; Jenna Kaspari, PT, DPT; and Christine Trujillo, PT.

Q&A with Danika Jost and Ryan Shawcroft: Benefits of physical therapy

October is National Physical Therapy Month, a great opportunity to raise awareness about PT and how it works

As Colorado begins to feel more like fall, it can be tempting to skip your workout for the day and grab a cup of hot chocolate, turn on Netflix and cuddle by the fireplace instead. Though cooler weather makes it more difficult to want to be physically active, October is a good time to focus on continuing your healthy exercise and movement routine because it is National Physical Therapy Month.

Though many people associate physical therapy with care that is post-injury, it is also beneficial for injury prevention. Children and adults of any age can benefit from PT, and physical therapists play a critical role in helping community members achieve their physical activity goals while improving their overall quality of life.

We sat down with Danika Jost and Ryan Shawcroft, two physical therapists on the Memorial Regional Health rehabilitation team, to discuss physical therapy and why it’s important to raise awareness about this type of care.

Q: What does a physical therapist do?

Danika Jost and Ryan Shawcroft: As a professional organization, our vision statement is, “Transforming society by optimizing movement to improve the human experience.” Our approach is to assist the human body to perform to the best of its ability. As many may know, this applies to a variety of conditions such as after a surgery and after an injury.

Some conditions that physical therapists treat that people might not know about include lymphedema, injury prevention, vestibular conditions and the use of dry needling. Reasons a person might need to see a physical therapist include trying to avoid surgery, restoring function after surgery, dizziness, weakness and injuries.

Q: Some people think you only need to see a physical therapist if you’re hurt or in the aging population — is this true? If not, who can benefit from physical therapy?

DJ & RS:  Definitely not true. Nearly everyone can benefit from physical therapy.

We all have moments in our lives where we injure ourselves or have pain that seems to come out of nowhere. If you don’t want to have surgery, physical therapy is a greater conservative measure to try and accomplish that goal. This isn’t to say that physical therapy can fix everything that goes wrong, but there is a fair amount of diagnoses that pertain to this profession where we are often a key player to help people get back on their feet doing what they want to do.

LOOK: An infographic explains some of the misconceptions a lot of individuals have about physical therapy.

Q: What are the benefits of physical therapy?

DJ & RS: Benefits include greater strength, range of motion, movement, function and quality of life.

Q: How does physical therapy at MRH work during COVID-19?

DJ & RS: We are able to continue to provide quality therapy services, while following COVID-19 precautions. All patients and staff wear masks and receive a temperature and symptom screening. Along with this, all equipment and surfaces are cleaned after each contact.

Q: What physical therapy services are offered at MRH?

DJ & RS: MRH physical therapists provide therapy for joint pain, issues with gait and mobility, neurologic conditions, dizziness and vertigo, concussion, cancer rehab, lymphedema treatment, pediatric PT and therapy after orthopedic surgeries.

Q: What is the MRH PT team like? What are your goals and mission with each patient?

DJ & RS: The therapy team is a very dynamic group of therapists that has more than 80 years of combined experience providing PT services in multiple settings including home health, inpatient, outpatient and pediatrics. The team is creative, collaborative, research-driven, active, patient-centered and are strong patient advocates.

Our goal for each patient is to provide them with an in-depth evaluation of their injury or complaint. We work alongside the patient to provide a patient-centered plan of care for them to reach their goals and return to the activities they love.

Q: Why is it important for people to consider PT and understand the importance of a physical therapist’s role in their health, especially during National Physical Therapy Month?

DJ & RS: Our team of PTs spend one-on-one time with patients for 45 to 60 minutes per treatment session to best understand their concerns and goals for therapy.

This treatment is individualized for each patient and is able to address multiple layers of a condition that a patient might be facing, making the treatment very comprehensive. It is a safe and inexpensive way to address pain and issues with mobility, setting patients up for success to better manage their health on their own with more confidence.

PT First is a campaign focused on getting patients skilled therapy services often and early to treat and prevent pain and issues with mobility, and to avoid addictive pain medication. This is important as a society as we come to understand the risks of the opioid epidemic.

Physical Therapy at MRH

Memorial Regional Health offers physical therapy care in our Rehabilitation Center, 750 Hospital Loop. There is a dedicated entrance and parking lot located on the west side of the Medical Clinic, which is also accessible for patient drop-off.

Our team of certified physical therapists can help treat pain in various parts of the body, including neck, back, shoulders, knees, feet and ankles. Sports physical therapy and rehabilitation, injury prevention and wellness, sports massage and dry needling are also available.

All MRH physical therapists are following extensive COVID-19 precautions to keep patients safe. For more information or to schedule an appointment for PT services, learn more here or call 970-824-5992.