Monthly Reflecting on 20 Years of Physical Therapy Overcoming My Fears and Being Grateful for My Opportunities
Twenty years ago, I began a journey that has brought me countless joys and opportunities. In 1998, I graduated from USC in the first graduating class to earn clinical doctorates in physical therapy. I have enjoyed helping coutnless patients over the years, and since opening OPTM Saratoga in 2004, I have thoroughly enjoyed the unique opportunity my clinic has given me to teach young physical therapists about the craft. I certainly have a lot to be thankful for. There’s one facet of my journey that, at the time, I wished I didn’t have to experience, but, looking back, I’m glad I did. It gave me insight into my patients, and it made me the physical therapist I am today. If you’ve ever been one of my patients, there’s a good chance you’ve heard about my own journey as a physical therapy patient. I sprained my ankle as a high school athlete, and I had to endure my own rehab to get my body back up to par for football. I can remember the fear that came with that injury and the subsequent rehab. Luckily, I had a physical therapist who guided me through the physical training I needed to get back to my true athletic self. And in that process, my emotional and spiritual needs were met as well. Just like many of my patients, I had to go from crutches to learning how to walk again, and through it all, I gained a valuable tool for my career in physical therapy: empathy. I stood where you all once stood and ached as you all have ached before. I learned that healing is a threefold process between the physical, emotional, and spiritual, and in order to get back to doing what you love, you need encouragement and motivation. You need to celebrate the victories and focus on what’s ahead.
I’m 20 years into this journey with you all, and I have not forgotten that terrifying time in my life. I use that story to highlight the potential for success all patients have, but more importantly, I use it to connect with my patients. To ease their fears (emotional healing), motivate their process, (spiritual needs), and begin their body’s repair (physical process), they need to hear encouragement and focus on where they want to be. I’m so grateful that I’ve been afforded this opportunity throughout the past 20 years, and while, as a physical therapist, there are always those initial fears of not being good enough, I’ve been able to develop relationships with clients as I work with them through their recovery. While I don’t get as much time with patients anymore, I enjoy guiding young physical therapists through their early years of practice. It’s an exciting new aspect to my career — one I can’t wait to keep pursuing. This didn’t always seem possible. Heck, I was unsure if I could even play football again, let alone walk normally. Little did I know that I’d be helping others get back to the activities that give their life meaning and the sports they love, just like my therapist helped me — and that’s a wonderful blessing. Dr. Fabrice Rockich
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