The Monday Memo: 1/30/2017

The Monday Memo

January 30, 2017                                                                           PITT DPT STUDENTS

The Birmingham Clinic

When you picture yourself treating patients in a Physical Therapy clinic, what does it look like? Do you see adjustable treatment tables, a plethora of free weights, ankle weights and therapy balls? What about treadmills, stationary bikes, or trampolines?


I’ve had access to these tools at all of my previous clinical internships, and when I pictured myself at a clinic, those tools have been in that image, without question. This semester I am at the Birmingham Clinic, an amazing interdisciplinary facility that is now offering Physical Therapy for uninsured patients. Because Birmingham is a free clinic that relies on donations, our treatment space consists of two basic tables, a few rolls of theraband, two stretching straps, and a couple pairs of free weights. The presence of numerous health professions means our physical space is busy and limited.


What I have realized is that the amount of equipment or space does not change the quality of care we can provide. The space does not alter my evaluations or treatment sessions. In essence, I find myself spending more time teaching my patients how to do exercises at home by using items that they may already have, or by being creative. Many of my treatments now focus on functional exercise. Warm ups consist of repeated sit to stands, as compared to five minutes on the treadmill. Doing this kind of warm up is effective from a comprehensive strength and cardiovascular stand point, but it also gives me the opportunity to provide cues on technique for such a fundamental movement. By taking a patient who is deconditioned outside to improve endurance and practice assistive device technique, I’m given the opportunity to navigate real world challenges with him or her such as potholes, gravel, cars and curbs of unexpected heights. Creative strength training that involves exercises crossing multiple joints and incorporation of core stabilization provides a physical and cognitive challenge for the patient.


Having to be innovative and flexible with the minimal physical space, lack of exercise equipment, and serving patients with complex medical histories or no knowledge of the English language keeps me on my toes and teaches me something every day. Realizing that all we truly need to help our patients is the knowledge and skills we can teach them, without necessarily needing high tech equipment or fancy gyms, is empowering and rewarding. The only tools we need, we already have, and anything additional to our disposal is a welcome asset, not a prerequisite.


If you know anyone, patient or otherwise, who may be worried about losing their medical insurance in the future, please point them toward the Birmingham Clinic in the South Side for free comprehensive care.
– PT services offered Mondays and Wednesdays 12:30-4pm
– 412-692-4706


– Neele Holzenkaempfer, DPT Class of 2018

Social Media Updates
  • #DPTstudent –  WEDNESDAYS , 9-10pm EST!   Check out #DPTstudent page for details!
  • Unite Physical Therapy Students – If you haven’t yet, please check out the “Doctor of Physical Therapy Students” Facebook page. More than 9,500 students have already joined!
  • Our own page! Pitt Physical Therapy, thanks to the Social Media Team, has created an official PittPT Facebook page!
  • #SolvePT (meets on Tuesdays Twitter from 9-10pm EST)
January 30, 2017 |

Comments are closed.