M3 PT - November 2018

WEST HILLS 7230 MEDICAL CENTER DRIVE, SUITE 401 WEST HILLS, CA 91307 WEST LOS ANGELES 10474 SANTA MONICA BLVD, SUITE 435 LOS ANGELES, CA 90025

WWW.M3PT.COM / LA · 310.275.4137 / WEST HILLS · 747.888.3562 / NOVEMBER 2018

M3 AND ME

HEALING HANDS HOW ROBERTA BREHM FOUND HER CALLING

This November marks my fifth month at M3 Physical Therapy, and I have to say, it’s been a great time thus far. Having previously worked in outpatient orthopedics at a hospital, I appreciate the bonds I’m able to form with patients and staff here at the West Hills Clinic. I’ve found joy no matter where I’ve worked in my three years in the industry — I couldn’t ask for a better job than getting to help people heal themselves. Looking back, it’s hard to believe I didn’t become a physical therapist sooner. I’ve always had a passion for helping people. But as a student of English with a flair for creativity and a passion for education, I always thought I was destined to become a teacher — until, that is, I started to actually teach. I loved working with kids, but the mandated lesson plans proved too restrictive. It was frustrating being told what to teach by district officials who didn’t know my students’ individual needs and interests. Eventually, I decided to try another avenue to help the next generation. I became a social services case manager, doing my part to get kids out of difficult and often desperate situations. For a time, I felt I was making a difference, but the same issues I’d encountered with lesson plans began to crop up again. Despite knowing the gritty details of every case, in so many situations my hands were tied by a bureaucracy that moved far too slow to provide the individuals in my care with the real help they needed. The only thing worse than being told how to help someone is being told you can’t help them at all. So there I was, 25 years old and already feeling like a failure. Thankfully, I’d managed to save some money and make the drive out to visit my grandparents in Iowa. I was looking to clear my head on the long road trip and spend time with relatives I hadn’t had much of an opportunity to be around growing up. I never would have expected I would find a career in the process. My grandmother suffers from polymyalgia rheumatica (PMR), a disorder that causes the muscles around the shoulders, legs, and

hips to stiffen and ache. PMR makes life difficult for anyone, but for a farmer like my grandma, some days are almost unbearable.

Thankfully, my grandfather had the power of touch. Normally, you wouldn’t think of the calloused hands of a World War II veteran and lifelong

farmer as being perfect for a massage, but Grandpa’s back rubs were some of the best around. We didn’t fully appreciate the good they were doing until he couldn’t perform them anymore. Tragically, my grandfather developed early-onset dementia. On top of having to become a caretaker for her lifelong partner and manage the farm, my grandma was left alone with the physical pain of increasingly painful PMR flare-ups. That’s when I arrived and discovered my grandpa and I have more in common than I thought. During my summer in Iowa, I began to give my grandma the massages that had made it possible for her to go about her day-to- day life. As she began to feel more comfortable, I took things a step further and took her out exercising with me. At the time, I assumed it was good to get her moving and out of the house for a bit. But the combination of massage and exercise proved extremely effective. Her own doctor couldn’t believe how much she’d improved. Through this experience, I discovered my love of physical therapy. I’d always been so focused on helping people with my mind, I’d never considered using my hands. Committing myself to years of study to become a physical therapist was probably the hardest thing I’ve ever done, but it was more than worth it. Now I get to help people as individuals, using both my knowledge and my touch to soothe and heal.

Thanks, Grandma and Grandpa.

–Roberta Brehm

LA · 310.275.4137 / WEST HILLS · 747.888.3562 | 1

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