Physical therapy ensures combat readiness

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Leighton Lucero
  • 4th Fighter Wing

“Everyone, including us, joke that PT stands for pain and torture, but we are really here to help you,” said Maj. Jeffrey Walker, 4th Operational Medical Readiness Squadron human performance flight commander. “Our goal is to get you back to doing everything that you normally do.”

The 4 OMRS physical therapy clinic at Seymour Johnson Air Force Base, North Carolina, gives active duty service members the steps forward in order to recover in a safe, and effective manner after an injury or physical problem.

“The focus on physical readiness is important to the mission, however, injuries are bound to occur,” said Staff Sgt. Koji Yoshioka, 4th OMRS physical therapist. “We get new inquiries every day about new or pre-existing injuries.”

Depending on the patient, their physiology and the injury, individualized programs are created for each Airman to ensure they are getting the right treatment for getting them back in the fight.

“The science is always changing, so we always have to keep up with the latest and greatest evidence on what the most current treatment plan is,” said Walker. “No injury has a one-size-fits-all fix, there are basic guidelines to follow from professional organizations, but we have to tailor the rehabilitation to the individual patient.”

The efforts provided by physiotherapists go beyond the duty day and their efforts maintain the strength of the force.

“We will spend extra time after hours to go over patient plans for care as a team,” said Yoshioka. “We have to rely on each other's expertise to give our patients the best options for recovery.”

The mental health aspect of recovery is just as important as the physical. According to the American Psychiatric Association, people living with chronic pain can be at heightened risk for mental health problems, anxiety, depression and substance use disorders. Chronic pain can affect sleep and can increase stress levels. The physical therapy clinic assists in restoring and maintaining morale during the recovery process.

The goal of physical therapy is to be a resource that adds to the 4th Fighter Wing’s mission, to maintain combat airpower and mission readiness.