OCTOBER 2018 WOODLYN WORD
GETTING WHERE YOU NEED TO BE
“PHYSICAL THERAPY AS A WHOLE WAS A NEW, WIDE- OPEN FIELD WHERE YOU COULD BE AS GOOD AS YOU WANTED TO BE.”
The path to a person’s future is rarely direct. Goals change, plans are rewritten, and you can be surprised where life will take you. I was introduced to physical therapy through karate. When I was a black belt, I met Pat Croce. This was before Pat became president of the 76ers basketball team and back when he ran a chain of 40 physical therapy centers. Pat and I became friends, and I started working at his clinic. At the time, I worked at Amtrak in a job
physical therapy, a field that
inspired me. As a physical therapist, I could learn as much
as I wanted and give the best treatment to patients who suffered from the same kind of
pain I experienced after injuring my back. I graduated from electronics school in October, but the courses I needed to take to become a physical therapist did not start until the spring. I took the opportunity to travel the world for six months and returned just in time to enroll in community college. In 1990, I graduated and began practicing as a physical therapist. I had the privilege of working with Kevin Wilk, a brilliant physical therapist from Alabama, who became my mentor. In addition to working full time at his clinic, Kevin spent 40 weekends a year giving talks about physical therapy. I liked the idea of teaching other physical therapists how to give their patients the best possible care, and I started traveling to give talks myself. However, I had just gotten married, and I also wanted to start a family and be there for the important moments. Changing my plans again, I opened my own practice. Since then, I have worked in different states, opened a number of clinics, and helped countless patients. Though my path has never been straightforward, I knew what goal I was working toward. My heart is in physical therapy and I want to provide each patient with a treatment plan that is unique to their injury and lifestyle. I love what I do, and while getting here has not been easy, I can say with confidence that when you are willing to put in the hard work, you will end up where you are meant to be.
I had started right after graduating high school. After I got off work at Amtrak, I would head over to the clinic and spend time learning about physical therapy. While working at the clinic, I found myself really studying the field. I enjoyed reading about the muscles in the body and learning more each day. Additionally, sports medicine was up and coming at the time, and a number of professional athletes from the Flyers and the 76ers would come into the clinic. Physical therapy as a whole was a new, wide-open field where you could be as good as you wanted to be. The possibilities really sparked my interest. One would think this signaled the beginning of my physical therapy career, but I had a few pit stops along the way. At the time, I had plans to leave my job at Amtrak, cycle Europe for a while, and then start college. Unfortunately, I sustained a life-altering back injury that left my future in limbo. Cycling was out of the question, and when I realized I could not go back to Amtrak, I decided to enroll in electronics school full time. This was in the early ’80s, when the technology boom was just starting, so getting into the field seemed like the smart decision.
I was almost finished with electronics school when I realized it was not a field I was truly passionate about. I wanted to dedicate my life to
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