If it’s broke, physical therapy can mend it

by Senior Airman Ashley L. Gardner, 8th Fighter Wing Public Affairs
Kunsan Air Base

KUNSAN AIR BASE, Republic of Korea -- If an Airman is injured, staying in the fight could be difficult. The physical therapists here help members of the Wolf Pack recover from their injuries in an expedient manner so that they are ready to “Take the Fight North”, while also educating and give them the tools needed to prevent future injuries.
A physical therapy technician’s job is to assist the 8th Medical Operations commander and return active duty Wolf Pack members to full duty status, making them fit to fight.
The flight of four takes care of 3.5K visits annually.
“We are the only medics who have the opportunity to spend a lot of quality time with Airmen,” said Tech. Sgt. Anthony Flores, 8th MDOS physical therapy technician. “This gives us the opportunity to know them and establish good rapport, help them get better, and reach their rehabilitation goals along the way. We have the privilege to network with Airmen all throughout the wing.”
In addition to working with therapy patients, the technicians also participate in other portions of health improvement.
“We are fortunate to have Bill Goins in the Health Promotions section of our flight,” said Capt.  Jacqueline Astrero, 8th MDOS, health promotion flight commander. “He is the health promotion coordinator and truly an incredible force multiplier as he offers a multitude of services.”
Programs offered are the Bod Pod Composition Analysis that assesses how much muscle and fat your body truly has, Heart Rate Training, Better Body Better Life Classes that focus on nutrition and weight management, Strength and Running 101 Classes and Running Shoe Analysis. Check with your physical training leader for more information on these classes and services.
While the goal of physical therapy is to make daily tasks and activities easier through treatment, Flores acknowledges there are other benefits to physical therapy.
“Research shows that physical activity and exercises in general, not just physical therapy, are proven to release chemicals in the body to counter stress,” said Flores. “Engaging in exercises increases a person’s stamina, mental alertness and enhances sleep. Plus it will help you get an excellent score on your fitness test, injury-free.”

Injuries can cause huge stressors in the minds of an injured Airman, so Flores credits physical therapy with also being a way to cope and bounce back, both mentally and physically.
“Ankle sprains, knee, neck, back and shoulder pain recovery times all vary depending on severity of the injury, age of the patient, their attitude and their lifestyle. There are a lot of factors that come into play.”
Home exercise programs are offered to patients who are not candidates for clinic treatments because of schedule conflicts or clinical presentation, after seeing a physical therapist.
There are a few options if you need assistance from a physical therapist technician. If it’s a recent injury to the ankle or shoulder, you do not need to see your Primary Care Manager to get a referral.  They have walk-in hours available: Monday through Friday from 10:30 to 11:30 a.m. and Tuesdays and Thursdays from 3:30 to 4:30 pm.  For other conditions, make an appointment to see your PCM who will refer you to them if it is indicated.
Because physical therapists have a direct access capability, they can see other injuries on a case to case basis, even without a referral from your PCM. For more information, contact their office at 782-4786.
While injury can always be a possibility for Airmen, one thing is certain; the physical therapy unit is here to help patients recover, ensuring the Wolf Pack remains resilient and always ready to “Fight Tonight.”

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