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A Day in the Life of...a Physical Therapist

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“We try to make things as functional as we can. Hardly anybody has a house where you don’t have a step to get into it. Do they need to be able to do those 10 reps – no – but they need to have the strength to be able to lift their leg up to step up into their house,” said Compton. “We try to think about what the patient really needs to do and cater their therapy towards that.”

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In the afternoon, Compton tends to managerial duties, when she has time.

“If I don’t have time, it’s because we have inpatient evaluations and I head over to the hospital,” said Compton.

At the hospital, Compton evaluates patients who have generally just had surgery. Most commonly, they have had a total hip or total knee replacement, or are debilitated from an illness like pneumonia.

“We look at ‘what does the patient need to be able to get out of the hospital.’ That could be working on their strength, endurance, balance or helping them decide if they should go home or not,” said Compton.

Sometimes, the physical therapist makes the determination that the patient can learn to use a walker and go home. In some cases, the person may need other adaptations, like a raised toilet seat. Other times, it may not be practical or safe for them to go home if they can’t do certain things on their own, or especially if they need 24-hour assistance.

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“We’re mainly trying to help them get home, but if they can’t go home, we figure out what’s safe for them,” said Compton. “If it’s not safe, maybe we’ll decide they’ll go to a skilled nursing facility for two to four weeks before going home.”

Following her day with Therapy Solutions, Compton heads over to Foster Family Chiropractic for more outpatient care. There, she sees people who generally have orthopedic problems like lower back or neck pain.

For both in and outpatient care, physical therapists can also do wound care. That can be helping to decide how to wrap an injured area or what ointments to apply. Compton admits it’s not her most favorite part of her job, but still enjoys taking care of the patient.

Of course, being a part of health care means some weeks there may not be an “end of the work week.” Compton and other physical therapists take regular turns being on call for inpatient care over the weekends. Yet, in the end, it is all worthwhile.

“I really like being a therapist because I like helping people and helping them get better,” said Compton. “And I enjoy the problem-solving and teaching parts of therapy.”


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