SHAW AIR FORCE BASE, S.C. --
After an injury, military members have to face potential stressors like what to do about their physical training test, how to accomplish tasks at work without hurting themselves further, as well as how to recover and prevent further injury.
Luckily, physical therapy technicians assigned to the 20th Medical Operations Squadron are always ready to help rehabilitate Team Shaw members who are physically hurt.
“Physical therapy is the rehabilitation of the musculoskeletal body,” said Tech. Sgt. Phillip Gabriel, 20th MDOS physical therapy clinic flight chief. “If somebody is injured, whether it’s muscle-related or bone-related, we try to strengthen up the muscles as much as possible (to reduce pain in the area.)”
After being referred to physical therapy by their doctor, military members will then be evaluated by a physical therapist and put on a fitness regimen for three weeks.
Service members frequently have the misconception that being sent to physical therapy is condemning them to a duty-limiting physical profile, said Staff Sgt. Marcos Davis, 20th MDOS physical therapy technician.
“That’s not the case. That’s not what we’re here for,” said Davis. “We’re here to help people improve and get better and if they are on a profile to get them off of it and back to regular duty.”
During appointments, technicians assist patients with their fitness regimens which can contain activities such as stretches, exercises and temperature therapy as well as the use of devices such as deep muscle stimulators.
It is crucial patients continue their physical therapy in between and after their appointments, said Gabriel. He also stressed that if physical therapy is not blended into the patient’s lifestyle, their body can revert back into its previous state or they may not see results at all.
“If you’re only working out three times a month, you’re not going to see those muscle gains,” said Gabriel.
While many Airmen in the 20th Medical Group may never see the results of their hard work, building close working relationships with patients allow the physical therapy technicians to see first-hand the fruits of their labor.
“Those patients who end up seeing the benefits, that’s the reward (for us),” said Gabriel. “It’s watching people get better that makes you want to come in every day.”
Once patients finish their appointments with the technicians, they are reevaluated by the physical therapist to determine if they need further help or if they can continue the exercises on their own.
Davis recommended mixing up workout routines, using proper form when lifting heavy items and performing dynamic stretches prior to a workout as ways Team Shaw members can avoid getting injured in the first place.
U.S. Army Sgt. 1st Class David Bedford, U.S. Army Central Command explosive ordnance disposal noncommissioned officer, works through his physical therapy regimen at Shaw Air Force Base, S.C., May 10, 2019. Physical therapy regimens can consist of various exercises, stretches and heat therapy as well as the use of devices to help strengthen and heal the patient’s injured areas. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Destinee Sweeney)