Repairing Airmen one muscle at a time

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Bryan Crane
  • 509th Bomb Wing Public Affairs
The human body is composed of the cardiovascular, muscular, nervous, skeletal and respiratory systems. As complex as the body is, human beings are constantly building them up and breaking them down.

At Whiteman Air Force Base, the 509th Medical Operations Squadron physical therapy clinic is the group that helps Airmen build their bodies back up by providing orthopedic rehabilitation after injuries and medical procedures.

"Our mission is to rehabilitate patients who have been injured," said Maj. Michael Holmes, 509th MDOS physical therapist. "We have patients that come in with small injuries, such as sprained ankles and wrists all the way up to larger injuries, including post-operation surgeries on knees and shoulders."

The physical therapy clinic provides evidence-based care for Whiteman's active-duty population in order to expediently reduce pain and restore function following musculoskeletal injury or orthopedic surgery.

"We use a combination of methods to aid in a speedy recovery," Holmes said. "Some of those methods are therapeutic exercises, joint manipulation and mobilization, electrical stimulation, ultrasound, taping and bracing, microwave diathermy, iontophoresis, spinal traction, and neuromuscular re-education."

The purpose of physical therapy is to return the body to a pre-injury state.

"We monitor a patient's progression from the first day he or she comes into our office all the way to the final day his (or her) injured body part is at full capability," Holmes said. "Another important part of our job is educating the patients on proper body mechanics and posture to help prevent future injuries."

The initial visit with the therapist is crucial for patients to form a plan to get back to top health.

"When a patient first steps into our office, we have an in-depth conversation about how the injury occurred and when the patient feels pain from the injury," Holmes said. "This information, along with a physical evaluation, will give us an idea on where to begin for our treatment plan. A unique treatment program is designed with your goals in mind, consisting of either home exercises, in-clinic visits with the therapist and technicians, or both."

The physical therapists in the 509th MDG understand the direct impact their work has on Whiteman's overall mission.

"It is important for us to get these Airmen back to full health so they can get back to their job and continue the global deterrence mission," Holmes said.

Patients going through physical therapy have found the Whiteman staff easy to work with and easy to learn from.

"I learned a lot about my injury and how to go from here to getting it back to full health," said Tim Ferguson, 509th Maintenance Group command chief assistant. "I came in not knowing at all what my injury was and why it has continued to bother me. The staff was great to work with and was very helpful in teaching me how to get back on the road to recovery and prevent future injuries."

Overall, the physical therapy clinic is a close-knit group that works together to complete the rehabilitation process for patients.

"We have a hard working staff here that works very well together," Holmes said. "We all enjoy coming to work every day to serve the Whiteman community through the rehabilitation process, while also educating patients to prevent further injuries."