Careers in Physical Therapy: Melinda Simon of The Center for Physical Rehabilitation

Physical therapy

Mindy Simon is a Clinic Director with The Center for Physical Rehabilitation (CPR), which serves a wide outpatient population in the Grand Rapids, Mich. area. She is both an Orthopedic Clinical Specialist and a certified athletic trainer.

Tell us about your practice. What sets you apart from other practitioners in your area?

I have had the benefit of specializing in orthopedic and manual therapy with CPR for the past 12 years. This has allowed me the opportunity to work with a very wide patient demographic, treating patients from a few weeks in age all the way up to patients in their 90s.

During their treatment sessions with me, my patients typically will have some sort of manual or hands-on therapy (depending on their presentation and our therapy goals, which we develop based on the patient’s input) and therapeutic exercise. I also focus heavily on patient education because it is my goal to help patients help themselves going forward from their time with me. Our clinics are all very bright and inviting, with an upbeat and positive atmosphere being of utmost importance to us. Our patients appreciate that, even though they are often in pain, the process of getting back to their previous functional level can be an enjoyable experience.

We’d like to talk about a patient success story you’re especially proud of. Tell us about the patient. How did they learn about your practice?

One of our many success stories was referred to our office from his primary care physician with low back pain that was also referring to the patient’s upper groin and testicle. In addition to his pain symptoms, he was having some swelling in the affected area. He shared that he and his wife had been trying to conceive their first child without success for the past year and he was concerned that his current complaints might be contributing to this.

After taking a thorough history, the next and most important step was to determine if this patient belonged in my clinic (were his complaints not of musculoskeletal origin?). I was able to perform a mechanical assessment of the patient’s spine using the McKenzie method. The importance of this was to determine if his symptoms could be impacted by spinal movements, thus helping me answer the all important question, “Can physical therapy help him?”.

Within his first few visits, we were able to significantly lessen his referred pain pattern with end range extension exercises and also educate him on how to maintain his improvements. He also no longer reported swelling in the impacted area. He was very relieved that his original complaints were mechanical in nature (i.e., coming from his low back) and best of all, when I ran into him and his wife at a restaurant about a year later, I was introduced to his beautiful baby daughter!

What advice would you give PT students today? For instance looking back at your own career is there anything you would do differently?

The best advice I can give someone pursuing a career in physical therapy is to realize that the body of knowledge is always changing in healthcare. If you want to provide the best possible care for your patients (and this should hopefully be your ultimate motivation), you have to be ready to dedicate yourself to becoming a lifelong learner. This is more than just reading an occasional journal article; it’s also surrounding yourself with knowledgeable professionals who are energized by sharing new treatment ideas with each other.

I have learned so much over the years by gleaning information from those around me, including professionals from other disciplines. It is extremely easy to think about how much knowledge you have gained in your three-plus years of graduate school and become complacent … challenge yourself to be better than that!

Please talk about any ways you are trying to impact the community you’re a part of.

I am extremely blessed to both live and work in the same community. More importantly, I am lucky to be employed by a company that appreciates the importance of being an integral part of the community that we strive to serve. The owners of our company, who are all PT’s providing patient care in our clinics, have always supported many community charities. Most recently, we are conducting our annual in-clinic food drive to benefit a local community center for homeless and low income individuals in the Grand Rapids area. We, as a company, have also provided pro bono health and wellness classes to a local elementary school for both students and parents. The Center for Physical Rehabilitation also has several contracts with area high schools; we provide an hour of complimentary injury consultation by a physical therapist directly in these schools each week.

From a personal standpoint, I have loved serving as a preceptor to students studying a variety of disciplines, including exercise science, athletic training and physical therapy, for the past eight years. Students motivate me to become a better clinician; the best ones are filled with questions that I need to be prepared to answer (whether by clinical reasoning or by a quick research review!). I also have been a long-time member of the American Physical Therapy Association and Michigan Physical Therapy Association, , which exist to serve the physical therapy community.

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