News>Physical therapists keep servicemembers in the fight
Maj. (Dr.) Christian Lyons examines Army Sgt. Mark Collins July 28 at an air base in Southwest Asia. Physical therapists help all servicemembers and coalition partners deployed to the U.S. Central Command area of responsibility who are in need of rehabilitative care. Doctor Lyons, a 379th Expeditionary Medical Group operations flight physical therapist, is deployed from Royal Air Force Lakenheath, England. He is a native of Volant, Pa. Sergeant Collins, assigned to the 354th Medical Logistics Company, hails from Schertz, Texas. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Robert Barney)
Tech. Sgt. Martin Vicente performs intermittent cervical traction on Royal Australian Air Force Cpl. Adam Henry July 28 at an air base in Southwest Asia. Physical therapists help all servicemembers and coalition partners deployed to the U.S. Central Command area of responsibility who are in need of rehabilitative care. Sergeant Vicente is a 379th Expeditionary Medical Group physical therapy craftsman and deployed from Hickam Air Force Base, Hawaii. He is a native of Manila, Philippines. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Robert Barney)
Maj. (Dr.) Christian Lyons performs cervicothoracia traction manipulation on Royal Australian Air Force Cpl. Adam Henry July 28 at an air base in Southwest Asia. Physical therapists help all servicemembers and coalition partners deployed to the U.S. Central Command area of responsibility who are in need of rehabilitative care. Doctor Lyons, a 379th Expeditionary Medical Group operations flight physical therapist, is deployed from Royal Air Force Lakenheath, England. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Robert Barney)
by Senior Airman Michael Matkin
379th Air Expeditionary Wing Public Affairs
7/31/2009 - SOUTHWEST ASIA (AFNS) -- Aircraft mechanics make sure the airframes they are assigned to are in impeccable condition, fine tuning them, ensuring there isn't any excessive wear and tear so these precision machines are ready to do their part in the today's fight. The human body is also a precision machine and needs to be well maintained so servicemembers can stay in the fight.
The mission of the physical therapists here is to heal servicemembers suffering from aches and pains so they can get back to the fight, said Maj. (Dr.) Christian Lyons, 379th Expeditionary Medical Group Operations Flight physical therapist.
Physical therapists see people from around the U.S. Central Command area of responsibility through the Intratheater Care Program, which brings servicemembers from such places as Joint Base Balad, Iraq, when they are in need of rehabilitative care. The base's hi-tech facilities allow the physical therapists to give patients the one-on-one care that they could not receive in a tent somewhere downrange. They are also able to make sure the patient gets all the help needed to fully recover, Doctor Lyons said.
He said this ability to fully treat patients allows the physical therapists to keep their patients in-theater and the fighting force healthy. Keeping servicemembers in the AOR prevents loss of manpower and financial resources, such as the cost associated with sending servicemembers back to their home station and paying for a replacement.
"For this reason, it is vital we see all services," said Doctor Lyons, who is deployed from Royal Air Force Lakenheath, England. "That is why we tell our patients, 'We will fix you today.' They look at us like we are crazy, but we can use our skill sets and heal them by doing something to get their joint working properly or align their knee appropriately with a taping technique. People often say, 'My knee doesn't hurt anymore. What did you do?' And they say it with a little bit of disbelief. Helping servicemembers feel better immediately, as well as long term, ensures servicemembers will stay fit to fight."
To keep servicemembers fit to fight, the physical therapists also need to be tuned-in with the other clinics in the medical group. This interaction helps everyone in the clinic identify injuries quickly, Doctor Lyons said.
"That quick interaction is one of the great things about this base. If the primary physician has a problem they will walk that problem down to us, and we can do the same. It is truly a team effort and makes the quality of care here second to none," Doctor Lyons said.
This quality of care is important because just as machines need to be well maintained for constant usage, the human body requires quality maintenance as well. This is especially true when it comes to muscular skeletal problems, Doctor Lyons said. "We use our joints and muscles all the time, which can cause an injured back, a hurt knee or cause a shoulder to be sore."
He said the best way servicemembers can keep their bodies in good repair is to do the right thing for their health and to do it all the time.
Tech. Sgt. Martin Vicente, a 379th EMDG physical therapy craftsman, said some servicemembers come here and want to contribute so strongly that they start a new exercise regimen that is too strenuous. Servicemembers should start out slow and controlled, he said. Injuries often happen because too much exercise is done too quickly.
"It is about balance," Doctor Lyons said.
This balance applies to work as well as exercise. Servicemembers should stay active and alter the stressors they put on our bodies. Don't do the same things over and over. "It is especially important to have good posture and to not reach for things like the mouse and keyboard if at a desk job all day," said Doctor Lyons, who hails from Volant, Pa.
Office workers whose job requires them to remain at their desk all day should get up and move at least once an hour. He suggested they stand up and do shoulder retractions, which are done by squeezing shoulder blades together, pushing them back and tucking in the chin slightly.
"Use the 'string' method," said Sergeant Vicente, a native of San Francisco. "This is where you imagine a string pulling you from the top of your head, which straightens the spine and back."
"If a unit feels they are in need of the 379 EMDG physical therapists to teach them some of these skills or brief about injury prevention and staying strong, they can contact us by phone or e-mail," said Sergeant Vicente, deployed from Hickam Air Force Base, Hawaii.
The physical therapists are also responsible for the runners' clinic where people can learn about proper running shoes and techniques, Sergeant Vicente said. They also have orthotics, which are foot supporting devices, available for people who need them.
"To make patients better you have to care -- and we do," Sergeant Vicente said.
8/2/2009 4:32:25 PM ET Thanks for the great work you are doing for our troops and our country