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Charting the course of PT
Monday October 1, 2012


Our second annual physical therapist recognition feature, in honor of National Physical Therapy Month, turned up four PTs and a PTA who are expanding the horizons of the physical therapy field with their passion for the profession and the well-being of their patients.

Stanley Paris, PT, with Kiwi Spirit under construction
(Photo by Billy Black)
Stanley Paris, PT, PhD, FAPTA
Trustee, University of St. Augustine (Fla.) for Health Sciences

Paris, PT, PhD, FAPTA, is planning to sail around the world. But his will be no leisurely cruise. The New Zealand-born adventurer is having a 63-foot-8-inch vessel built, which he said will allow him to make the journey alone and in record time. He’ll be 76 when he sets sail on the Kiwi Spirit, departing from St. Augustine on Nov. 30, 2013. His goal: to circumvent the globe in 120 days.

Paris is well-known in physical therapy for founding the University of St. Augustine (Fla.) for Health Sciences, offering the first professional doctorate program for physical therapy in 2001; reintroducing manual therapy to the profession; and advocating for direct access and autonomy.

“I’m doing this entirely ‘green,’” Paris said of his sail. “There will be no engine; no generator. I’ll be using solar, wind and water power generation, and I’m going to be going deep into the Southern Ocean, so it will be a pretty rough trip. I expect to be knocked down several times — the boat that is, with me in it. So, in rough seas I’ll be wearing a helmet, of course, and a padded jacket.”

Paris has completed two English Channel swims and an Ironman World Championship triathlon. In sailing, Paris has completed three North Atlantic crossings and two Alaska-to-New Zealand passages. He has sailed around the world once. “I did it with friends and took my time. But now I’m going to do it solo, nonstop, nonassisted,” he said.

Paris is funding his journey while raising money for the Foundation for Physical Therapy ( Paris raised more than $52,000 for the group with his 2009 English Channel swim. “If people want to sail around the world with me, they can put their name on the boat for $100,” he said.

On the boat builder’s website, Paris wrote: “Being a physical therapist steeped in issues related to safety and ergonomics, I created an owner’s brief that would define comfort, safety and ease of handling. After all, being in my 70s is not like being in my 20s. Now, I like to enjoy a cocktail and relax watching the boat go fast and easy.”

Sue Falsone, PT, with Los Angeles Dodgers player Matt Kemp
(Photo courtesy of Sue Falsone, PT)
Sue Falsone, PT, MS, SCS, ATC, CSCS, COMT
Vice President, Performance Physical Therapy and Team SportsAthletes’ Performance/Core Performance, Phoenix

Falsone is a pioneer among her female colleagues. The 38-year-old is head athletic trainer/physical therapist for major-league baseball’s Los Angeles Dodgers, and is the first and only woman to hold that title in the four major professional sports.

Falsone earned this post while working at a training and rehabilitation facility that serves professional athletes, including those on the Dodgers’ roster. She consulted for the team from 2008 through 2010 before her promotion at the start of this year’s MLB season. She maintains her title as vice president at Athletes’ Performance, while managing what she describes as a 24-7 gig for the Dodgers.

Falsone’s role is to take care of the team’s athletes, she said. “And, ideally, help reduce injury or, when injury happens, to help rehabilitate them and get them back on the field.”

Falsone’s challenge is to go beyond helping patients with activities of daily living or even workouts — they need to return to professional sports. “The most rewarding [aspect] is getting the players back onto the field, able to do what they want to do. I think that’s why every physical therapist and athletic trainer does what they do — to help patients return to what [patients] want to do,” she said.

While Falsone said she uses many techniques and approaches, ASTYM soft tissue treatment, dry needling, Kinesio Taping and TRX suspension training are among her favorites. “We also do a lot of exercises and movement-based training to help restore normal movement patterns,” she said.

Falsone usually gets to the office at noon and works until midnight. Even her off hours are spent responding to texts and calls from athletes and others. She expects to get some downtime in November — after the Dodgers win the World Series, she said.

Claude Hillel, PT, and patient Mitha
(Photo courtesy of Claude Hillel, PT)
Claude Hillel, PT
Senior Physical TherapistNew York Sports Medicine and Physical Therapy

Hillel was hit hard by the Jan. 12, 2010, earthquake that devastated Haiti, the country where he was born. He lost two cousins in the disaster.

For Hillel, who manages a bustling Manhattan orthopedic clinic, there was no choice but to help. “I’m fortunate to have a set of skills that are useful. Physical therapists have knowledge they can share or skills they can use to help people in need,” he said.

He stumbled his way at first, catching a flight to Haiti a week after the quake. But he eventually landed with Project HOPE (Health Opportunities for People Everywhere) and served for two months on the USNS Comfort, a Navy vessel turned floating hospital.

The experience changed the 48-year-old, he said. He returned to Haiti for three months this spring and continues to make trips whenever he can. “I could see the impact from my interventions,” he said. “Every single treatment that I provided was so beyond what the people in Haiti had ever experienced, in terms of care.”

One example is Mitha, a young mother whose legs were crushed in the quake. Hillel helped her learn how to walk with prostheses and checks her progress weekly. But Mitha’s home has no accommodations for her disability. “There are still a lot of things that I’m learning about their culture — about how a handicapped person navigates through life in Haiti and how I can contribute to that.”

What people don’t understand, Hillel said, is the need is constant. “When I went there, there was only one Haitian physical therapist that I knew of.”

Hillel assembled a 40-page orientation book for Project HOPE, and stars in a video series on the group’s website. While Hillel said he enjoys practicing in New York City, he misses the feeling he gets when he’s on Haitian soil. “It’s the most valued I’ve felt in my profession and in my career.”

Beth Scalone, PT, performs a spine stabilization exercise on a patient.
(Photo courtesy of Beth Scalone, PT)
Beth Scalone, PT, DPT, OCS, ATRIC
Owner, North County Water and Sports Therapy Center, San Diego

Immersed in aquatic therapy, Scalone uses the modality at her San Diego physical therapy clinic, teaches courses on the topic and said she believes the approach allows her to be more creative with patients.

Twenty years ago, aquatic therapy was an approach for patients who failed land-based therapy, Scalone said. The water allowed them to move more easily and with less pain. “As I learned more, [I realized] you could use the properties of water for all levels,” she said.

Scalone opened the North County Water and Sports Therapy Center 15 years ago, after the private clinic at which she was a staff PT was purchased by a large corporation. “The expectation became that we would treat many more patients an hour. So we were seeing three, four patients an hour, and I was getting to the point where I thought, ‘This is not why I went to school,’” she said.

Owning her own clinic has put her in charge of patient care and her career, Scalone said. She continually strives to advance what she knows about aquatic therapy and apply it not only in practice, but in teaching at colleges and professional meetings worldwide.

In October, she’s traveling to Korea to teach one of the newer aquatic therapy approaches, Aquastretch, to fellow PTs. The technique combines myofascial release and active exercise to help patients gain range of motion and pain relief. “With some patients, I have had significant improvement in their range of motion. For example, a patient with a shoulder injury had 120 degrees and went to 150 degrees of shoulder flexion in one session,” she said, adding, “Now, that’s not every patient.”

The aquatic therapy niche is here to stay and will grow, according to Scalone. One reason: Aging baby boomers want to stay active long into retirement. “But they have the arthritis,” she said. “So I think you’ll see more and more people accessing the water as a form of exercise. It may start on the therapy level, but, hopefully, continue on an independent basis for fitness. That’s once people recognize how aquatic therapy can maintain more than just their joints but their whole bodies.”

Scalone was given the 2012 Aquatic Therapy Professional Award by the Aquatic Therapy Rehabilitation Institute for her distinguished service to the profession.

Bernie King, PTA
Bernard (Bernie) King, PTA
Rehabilitation Services, Northside Hospital, Atlanta

King has a special distinction in the physical therapy world. He is the only PTA clinician to have served as a chairman of the PTA panel on the Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education. 2009-11, he led the panel responsible for onsite visits to PTA schools and making accreditation decisions, as well as decisions on requirements and criteria for programs.

CAPTE is the only accreditation agency recognized by the United States Department of Education and Council for Higher Education Accreditation to accredit entry-level physical therapist and physical therapist assistant education programs. King was among 29 PT, PTA and other members.

“It was a very big growing step for me in leadership,” King said. “You have to be an onsite reviewer, first, before you are eligible to be a commissioner on CAPTE. You are appointed for four years. And I was vice chair my second year and chair my third and fourth years.”

Even though his responsibilities were aimed at PTA education, the experience involved working predominately with PTs. “When I was at CAPTE, there were only two PTAs who actually sat on the panel. The rest were PTs, administrators and public members. And while each of the panels met separately for most of the meetings, for the last day, we would all come together and make decisions collaboratively,” he said.

King was involved in discussing issues important to both professions, including whether PTA education should be moved to a four-year degree. “It’s an ongoing debate. As a commission, we wrote a paper that it should stay at the associate’s level at this time,” King said.

A PTA for 16 years, King was drawn to the profession after going through physical therapy at age 19 following a tennis injury. His mother went through rehabilitation after brain cancer treatment.

Today, in addition to his full-time job at Northside Hospital, he volunteers with CAPTE as an onsite reviewer. He recently received advanced proficiency recognition as a PTA in acute care from the American Physical Therapy Association and has been asked, he said, to return to the commission as an ad hoc member of the PTA panel for 2 1/2 years.

King soon plans to add school to the mix, and pursue a degree in healthcare administration. His ambition is to be a manager or clinical coordinator of a rehab department.

Lisette Hilton is a freelance writer.

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Monday October 1, 2012
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