I want to share with you my story of how I first found physical therapy and knew that this is the field I want to be in for the rest of my career.
I was initially exposed to PT when I was a freshman in high school. I played on the freshman basketball team while simultaneously playing on my club soccer team. I LOVED playing both sports! I was in great shape and made so many lifelong friendships through the process. Little did I know, playing these two demanding sports took a toll on my body.
As a freshman, I was overwhelmed with everything. Moving into a bigger school, trying to make it to class on time, and worrying about when I would have time to do homework after basketball and soccer practice. Playing two sports and trying to balance academics led to a L4 and L5 PARS fracture. I kept having constant back pain whenever I would try to do ANYTHING. Not only did the pain impact my performance in basketball and soccer, but I also struggled with doing daily activities. I couldn’t bend over to put my socks on, tie my shoes, or sit for a long period of time. I was heart-broken, frustrated, and confused. I had no idea why I was having so much pain!
I visited a doctor at RUSH hospital in Chicago and was formally diagnosed with a PARS fracture. I couldn’t do any physical activity which meant sitting out at ALL practices and games. As a competitive person, I absolutely hated sitting out, but I knew this was necessary to heal and get back to my normal self again. My doctor recommended I complete physical therapy to build strength and reduce my pain levels.
I went to ATI Physical Therapy and completed almost 3 months of therapy. Megan (I will never forget my therapist’s name!!) took me through a ton of exercises. I vividly remember doing a BUNCH of abdominal exercises (as a PT tech working in the field, I now know why I did them!) and slowly felt my back pain levels go down. I could not believe how Megan was able to get me to do normal daily activities and sports again with no pain. She got me back to playing soccer and I felt like a completely different person. My experience with Megan was literally life changing- I knew I wanted to be a physical therapist from that moment.
My first exposure to physical therapy fascinated me on so many levels. I couldn’t believe that a few weeks of strengthening and increasing flexibility could reduce my back pain significantly. This experience was “just a spark, but it’s enough to keep me going” (one of my favorite Paramore songs) through my journey of learning to PT 🙂