PSAB Physical Therapy team keeps Airmen fit to fight

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Jacob B. Wrightsman
  • 378th Air Expeditionary Wing Public Affairs

From bad backs to rolled ankles, injuries to service members inhibit the sustained combat operations here at Prince Sultan Air Base.

By providing preventative and rehab care to service members deployed to the base, the PSAB physical therapy team is on the front lines in the battle against preventative injury.

“We provide traditional physical therapy, evaluations, manual therapy, and exercise therapy,” said Capt. Brittaney Nores, 378th Expeditionary Medical Group physical therapist. “While we’ve been here we’ve tried to do more preventative care, getting in with the Security Forces Squadron, explosive ordnance disposal, and other units to try and tackle some of the common problems before they start.”

The physical toll of daily duties can strain the bodies of service members, including certain jobs that are at an increased risk of bodily aches and pains.

By pinpointing those certain career fields, the PT team goes great lengths to provide proper care to those units.

“We go out to ops town every week and evaluate some of the units on the flight line,” said Sgt. Lacey Warner, 378th EMDG physical therapy specialist. “We see a lot of pilots just based on the long hours they spend in the aircraft. We usually see a lot of shoulder, back and neck issues.”

“We also go over and work with the maintenance squadron once a week,” Nores added. “It’s nice that they don’t have to travel all the way over here, we travel to them. They can just come in and then go straight back out to work.”

While the mission of providing credible combat air power can have physical effects on service members, a majority of the injuries on base can be attributed to off-duty activities.

“I’d say a large percentage like 75% of all injuries are from overuse, overtraining and lifting injuries in the gym,” Nores said. “We see a lot of low back pain, a lot of deadlift injuries, a lot of shoulder overuse injuries. A large portion comes down to paying attention to your body and not overdoing it.”

With most personnel being deployed for months at a time, deployments are optimal for most to focus on their health and fitness. While the time spent in the gym can be a great benefit for some, the PT team cautions against overdoing it.

“Everyone has goals when they get out here, but doing too much too soon will leave you injured,” Nores said. “Make sure you’re paying attention to your body. If you’re having pain or any signs and symptoms of overtraining that you take it back a little bit, rest days are important.”

While the workout itself is important, the warm-up and cool-down phase of a workout can make the difference between a healthy deployment and spending hours in the PT clinic.

“We also place an emphasis on a warm up and a cool down. Almost everybody that comes in injured, I ask them if they warmed up before and it’s usually no,” Nores said. “Some people tend to underestimate how important that is. They say I don’t really have time for it, you need time, because otherwise you’re gonna have that time later because you’re injured.”

If service members aren’t 100% sure on how to properly warm up or exercise, the PT team has that covered as well.

Routinely offering base wide classes, the PT team covers the basics of building a healthy workout regimen, from maintaining proper form and technique to building a comprehensive fitness plan.

“People get here and they want to go go go, but aren’t sure how to structure their workout or don’t know how to focus on form and technique. By doing the classes hopefully people come out and learn,” Warner said. “A lot of times people will have this mentality of ‘oh I’m good I don’t need to go’ and then we just see them in here anyways, by coming to the classes it’ll benefit them in the long run as far as staying out of the PT clinic.”

Tailored classes are also available to units who are noticing certain injury trends within their unit.

“If a unit is having a lot of weight lifting injuries or a lot of people coming in with overuse issues, they can come to us and we’re happy to work around their schedule to come and do a class.” Nores said. “They can get a hold of us so we can come out and try to educate and do a preventive course.”

Regardless of goals, experience or prior injuries, PSAB’s physical therapy team is a valuable resource to ensure a healthy and injury free deployment.

“You can have a healthy workout routine throughout your six months here,” Nores said. “Take the initiative to learn what you don’t know, even if you think you know it, there’s always something to learn.”