Over the past 15 years, in Nashville, Tennessee, Perry Smith has channeled his passion for health and wellness into starting and expanding two successful physical therapy businesses.
Today, Perry Smith is looking forward to turning his business acumen, innovative marketing strategies, medical knowledge, a large network of professional contacts in the Nashville area, and drive for success toward helping a company in the healthcare industry build its business.
Tell us a little about a day in the life of a physical therapist.
In general, throughout all its disciplines physical therapy is about improving and/or restoring healthy movement. We are often considered the experts on normal and abnormal movement. Therefore, most people coming to see a physical therapist are coming because they have an injury or condition that has affected their movement or they want to prevent possible degradations to their capacity for healthy movement.
Most physical therapists work in settings involving direct client care so our day involves evaluation and treatment of conditions affecting human movement. The part that keeps every day interesting and different is each person’s body is unique and therefore each evaluation and plan of treatment is like solving a puzzle.
Although most physical therapists do work in direct client care there are multiple alternative employment pathways for physical therapists. I have known physical therapists who work in ergonomics designing better work stations, who work in prosthetics consulting in the latest designs for amputees, who work with major shoe manufacturers lending their expertise to shoe design, who are sales consultants for companies that develop medical equipment and are legal consultants for court cases involving injuries. There are many different avenues of work but all have the common thread of being recognized as an expert in human movement.
For someone interested in studying physical therapy, what’s your best piece of advice for them?
Volunteer or work as an aide in a physical therapy setting, ideally that performs the discipline of physical therapy you think you would be interested in doing. There are two great benefits of this. This first is that it allows you to see the type of work that is done to reinforce your interest in the field. The second benefit is you will see how the courses you will be taking are applied in the actual scope of the job.
What are the latest trends in physical therapy?
Dry needling has become a very popular modality in physical therapy. It involved using the same type of needle used for acupuncture and inserting it into points within muscle fibers triggering a depolarization of the muscle cell and a “reset” of the muscle tension. However, the latest trend within that trend is ultrasound-guided dry needling. In states where this modality is offered the physical therapist uses a handheld portable ultrasound unit (the same concept as when you have an ultrasound during pregnancy). The ultrasound shows muscle and tendon so you can guide your needle to the exact target tissue with pinpoint (no pun intended) accuracy. This is very beneficial for “needling” tendons that are inflamed (tendonitis) to trigger healing of the tendon.
What are the first steps you take when evaluating a new client?
Assessment of the symmetry of body landmarks. Humans are bipedal creatures with upper extremity usage preferences. What does that mean? Basically that we will have a dominance of how our legs and arms operate and the posture of our body. Again you ask…what does that mean? The term you will hear is physical therapy is people develop “directional susceptibilities to movement and posture”.
That means uniquely each person develops either through habit or injury certain ways they like to stand, sit, and move. Those patterns of movement and posture over time create changes in our bodies. Muscles and joints may become looser moving in one direction and stiffer moving another. These imbalances make us more susceptible to injury. So my starting point in evaluating any client is to look at what body they are bringing into my office and how symmetrical is it from a standpoint of posture and movement. The finding of this will often explain the “why” of what pain or injury has brought them to us and also reveals the ultimate “fix” for their issue.
Many thanks to Perry Smith, Nashville fitness expert, for sharing his thoughts about physical therapy, health and wellness.