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NEWS | Feb. 16, 2011

Physical therapy helps Sailors on the road to recovery

By Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Jennifer Hudson

With so much high tech equipment available, the physical therapy department at Naval Health Clinic Charleston on Joint Base Charleston - Weapons Station looks more like a gym than a starting point for patients on the road to recovery.

Physical therapy is the art and science of physical care and rehabilitation. It is a primary health care profession with physical therapists providing services to patients to develop, maintain and restore maximum movement and functional ability.

"Our goal is to help rebuild muscle memory," said Hospital Corpsman 2nd Class Kwajalien Webb, the leading petty officer and PT tech at the clinic. "The most common injuries we see are torn ACLs, the anterior cruciate ligament which is one of four strong ligaments connecting the bones of a knee joint. Our job is to rebuild the overall functionality and mobility of a patient to get them back to full working capability.

"We use a lot of weight equipment to help strengthen a patient's specific targeted area," she continued. "Strengthening is one of the primary keys to rehabilitation and once we strengthen those muscles we then have our patients do a lot of repetitious workouts which helps build and improve the function of the injured or damaged muscle."

Information Systems Technician 2nd Class Eugene Smith, attached to Naval Support Activity at JB CHS - WS, suffered a torn ACL and has been going to PT for more than three weeks. He said that although there is pain in the rehab process, it is well worth it.

"I have seen significant progress in my right knee since starting PT," he said. "The 'no pain, no gain' concept definitely plays a part, but I feel I'm accomplishing something. Now I can put more weight on my knee than I was able to before the surgery."

PT techs are the first to admit there will be some pain during the rehabilitation of muscles that were damaged or injured.

"Pretty much every one that attends PT is skeptical about it at first," said HM2 Webb. "No one wants to hurt, and a lot of times we see patients who are already in pain and don't want to make it worse. But after a few sessions of PT they begin to see the advantage of the program."

After attending PT for almost a year for a right knee injury, Master-at-Arms Chief Ronnie Griffin from the Nuclear Power Training Unit onboard JB CHS - WS, said that PT has significantly improved his quality of life.

"My mobility and function of my knee was pretty bad, but PT has helped improve all of that," he said. "Although the treatment can be painful for any injury, the therapists will never push anyone past their level of pain tolerance. It will hurt, but it will get you on the road to recovery a whole lot faster than trying to do it on your own."

"I love doing this type of work," said Electrician's Mate 3rd Class Ryan Gailey, a PT technician at NHCC who is currently going through on-the-job training. "Being able to help a Sailor and guide them to do more than they were able to do before their injury really makes my day."