Monday Memo 1/1/2018

A Place To Play


Growing up, the playground was the place to be. This is where memories were made, friendships were created, champions were born, and competition wove its way into our innocent lives. I think that most people have some sort of positive memory associated with playing as a child and I believe that it is very important for creating a positive association with exercise, movement, and physical activity. This is why I believe it is important for everyone to be given the chance to participate in play. Recently, I came across and article of NFL quarterback, Drew Brees, in partnership with his foundation, creating an all-inclusive playground in New Orleans. I have never heard of all-inclusive playgrounds before this, so I looked into them a little further after reading the article, and what I found brought me tremendous joy as a student of physical therapy.


Essentially all-inclusive playgrounds aim to provide a safe, inclusive, and entertaining environment for children of all motor and sensory ability levels. A few of the companies that provide the equipment for these playgrounds have certain standards and considerations that help shape their goals for their products. Miracle Recreation uses four, “Must Haves,” when designing their equipment:


  1. Accessibility – There needs to be an ADA approved route to the playground
  2. Equal Opportunity – All children should be able to participate in ground level AND elevated play
  3. Variety – Offering a variety of play experiences can help children incorporate all senses.
  4. Integration – The play area should feel like a cohesive community where sensory rich play opportunities are included among the activity


Other organizations such as inclusive by Playcore Inc. have a set of seven principles that they strive to achieve:


  1. Be Fair
  2. Be Included
  3. Be Smart
  4. Be Independent
  5. Be Safe
  6. Be Active
  7. Be Comfortable


A more in-depth explanation of their principles can be found on their website. One such playground can even be found here in the Pittsburgh area in Upper St. Clair’s, “The Clubhouse.” I encourage anyone who is interested to look further into these playgrounds, and support your local area in trying to increase the number of these facilities. Everyone should be included and everyone deserves to play.


-Jim Tersak, SPT, CSCS


January 1, 2018 |

Monday Memo 12/18/17

A Team of Their Own


This summer, the majority of Pittsburgh was closely following the Penguins in the Stanley Cup Playoffs. The cheering could be heard throughout the city the night that they clinched the title. It is without a doubt that the Penguins could not have done it without the help of countless volunteers and fans. This fall, I discovered another Pittsburgh hockey team that was looking to seal some wins in their upcoming season as well.


The Mighty Penguins are a sled hockey team that is based at the UPMC Lemieux Sports Center. The organization serves as a competitive and therapeutic outlet for individuals with physical and cognitive disabilities. Once a week throughout the fall semester, the DPT students at The University of Pittsburgh conducted a strength and conditioning program for the Mighty Penguins athletes. Because of the unique demands of their sport, we focused our program on upper body strength and core control. The benefits of this program extended beyond just physical conditioning. At the end of each session, everyone was a little more tired and a lot more motivated. The feeling of gratitude that we as students felt cannot be put into words.


This season is an especially good time to reach out and see what can be done in your community. In my experience of helping the Mighty Penguins prepare for their season, I was able to share in the excitement of helping a Pittsburgh team achieve their goals while also giving back to the community. No matter what your skill set is, there are countless ways to give back to the community. When you find something that allows you to use your expertise while helping others, the effect can be tremendous.


If you are in the Pittsburgh area, be sure to catch a Mighty Penguins game this year!


-Layne Gable, SPT




December 18, 2017 |

Monday Memo 12/11/17

A Collaboration of Health Care Professionals

Earlier this semester, a week or so after our PT pledge ceremony, our class attended an Interprofessional Health Forum. After attending, I reflected on the oath we took as we entered the physical therapy profession, and how we can most effectively collaborate with other health professionals to provide optimal patient care. As an athletic trainer myself, I see many similarities between the two professions, and also many differences. However, the differences are not a bad thing. I believe that if we acknowledge these differences and focus on collaborative treatment for the patient, the value of a professional relationship between AT’s and PT’s is priceless.

First, let’s take a step back and look at what the AT’s role in healthcare is. There are five domains of athletic training:

  • Injury/Illness Prevention and Wellness Protection
  • Clinical Evaluation and Diagnosis
  • Immediate and Emergency Care
  • Treatment and Rehabilitation
  • Organizational and Professional Health and Well-being

Regardless of the setting or level of competition in which an athletic trainer works, they must take on many roles, many of them similar to ours as future physical therapists. Coupled with the rigors of an athletics schedule, hordes of athletes needing care, and almost no days off, the athletic trainer must efficiently manage their time and resources. Though athletic trainers are effective rehab clinicians, time may be limited to ensure every athlete completes their rehab, which is where a good relationship with a physical therapist may be beneficial. PT’s can devote their full attention to rehabilitation and prevention of future injury.

In physical therapy, we too face issues of time management and prioritizing care. It may be difficult to treat all the necessary body systems and impairments in a one hour session, especially if the sessions must be spread out over a longer period of time. The ability to emphasize functional and sport-specific training may be limited by the number of visits a patient’s insurance will cover. Talk to your patient about their athletic trainer. Reach out to the AT to find ways in which they can supplement your PT sessions, and ensure that the patient is completing their exercises with appropriate frequency and technique. In addition, many athletic trainers have access to better equipment and space than what is available in some PT gyms, thus allowing them to focus on functional and sport-specific training to ensure appropriate return to sport. AT’s see their athletes almost daily, and are able to closely monitor their physical and mental well-being. This advantage can be extended to the physical therapist who forms a good relationship with athletic trainers. In short, both professions have strengths and weaknesses; by forming a collaborative effort, the weaknesses become significantly diminished. The athlete’s safe return to sport can be greatly expedited while ensuring the best outcomes.

-Joseph Dietrich, SPT, ATC



December 11, 2017 |

Monday Memo 12/4/17

Visually Educating Patients

Patient education is an important part of physical therapy, and some may even argue that it is the most important aspect that physical therapists are responsible for. The power of educating a patient about their diagnosis, impairments, etc. carries beyond the clinic and is a main component to achieving success in the long term. A simple way to educate a patient is through an informational video. Here is a patient education video that I created about patellar tendinopathy. The goal of this video is to help the patient get a basic understanding of what is causing their problem, how it may have occurred, and what they can possibly expect during their time in the physical therapy clinic. Having a base of go to videos can be useful and if used properly can be an effective tool for any physical therapist.

-Jim Tersak, SPT, CSCS


December 4, 2017 |

Monday Memo 11/27/17

Ode to Physical Therapy

Oh my back, its aches never cease

No solace is found while perched upon a chair

I bend or I twist, yet still I find no peace

I am unable to work or play, this is remarkably unfair

My doctor suggests medicines with unpronounceable names

Their efforts were formidable but no match for this torment

He proposed ice or heat, neither succeeded I must lament

It seemed I was out of options and my discomfort would remain

However, my pain and troubles found relief in Physical Therapy

Who knew movement and exercise could do so much to help me


Every time I pitch the ball my shoulder erupts in pain

I practice and lift, so why does it feel so tired and weak

I attempt to ignore these twinges but it is in vain

My endurance is waning and the rest of my season looks bleak

X-rays and MRIs come back unmarked by injury

These images say nothing is wrong, but I know better

I can feel the laxity in my shoulder, it needs to be stronger

My doctor knows what to do and who can answer my plea

A few weeks in Physical Therapy and my shoulder is like new

Without my PT, I could never have made my MLB debut


Boston, New York, and Chicago are a few of the races I’ve done

Marathons are my hobby, but I am afraid these days are over

Each mile means more hip pain, and enduring it is not fun

But I jog through the ache because I’ve always been a runner

However, after months of nagging I realize rest is not the cure

I visit my regular PT who promises my marathon days can continue

I need some stretching and strength training, and maybe new shoes

My PT made me stronger, decreased my pain, and was quick to reassure

I am back to running and will cross many more finish lines

All thanks to physical therapy and their essential guidelines


Everyone has aches anywhere from their head to toes

But it’s hard to know who can make them go away

With so many options, the question is “where should I go?”

You may think first should be a doctor, surgeon, or an x-ray

But that list forgets to mention a viable option

Your possible answer can be found in the subject of this poem

Physical Therapy may be the solution to your ongoing problem

There is no reason to prolong your pain so take some action

Schedule an appointment with your local PT

And hopefully their interventions bring you glee!


-Caroline Talda, SPT




November 27, 2017 |