I really wanted to take a second and chat about how school is going. Well, not school in particular. But how I’m starting to feel about which direction I want to pursue with physical therapy. This semester has changed so much perspective in me and I love every second of it.
I had a feeling when we started this semester that I was really going to enjoy it. I felt differently about the material that we were learning. In past semesters, I found myself going through the motions (in hindsight), and not thoroughly enjoying what I was learning. Sure, a lot of it was really cool and interesting, but I didn’t get that passionate feeling. I didn’t get that butterflies in the stomach-giddy-ness-smiling-while-walking-out-of-clinic feeling. And that’s what I get this semester.
There’s just something about the Neuro population that seriously makes me want to pick up my textbook and read it. It makes me want to go to clinic everyday and learn more techniques and learn about different patient types. It’s exciting. For those who are unfamiliar with what types of patients I would see in a Neuro setting, it ranges anywhere from traumatic spinal cord and brain injuries, stroke, and Parkinson’s Disease, to children with cerebral palsy, Down Syndrome, or motor development delays.
There are honestly so many things that I could list off for you as to why I truly love this profession and love the neuro aspect of it. And all of these things continue to be proven true with every clinic visit I attend. First of all, these patient’s are so grateful for us, and they make sure we know it. How can you not love when a patient continually tells you how amazing you are?! But you know what, we are amazing. And I’m realizing that more and more. We see these patients, literally, at the worst time in their life. Most have gone through a traumatic event leaving them disabled and often depressed. And we help them regain strength and confidence, relearn how to walk, facilitate motor learning, start life again as normal as possible…
Second, the gains that you see in these patients are phenomenal and seriously awe-inspiring. Watching a patient who was told they will never walk, take their first steps by themselves. There is literally nothing in the world that can beat that feeling. And knowing that you had a hand in that? It’s incredible. You get emotional, and you may get attached because we are seeing these patients every day for hours, working to get back to a normal life. But it is so worth it in the end if they make the gains you are expecting. Lastly, the amount that you can change an individual’s life, there is nothing that replaces that. Knowing that you had that big of an impact on rebuilding this patient’s life; or in some cases, preserving their functional abilities for longer; there is no greater feeling.
I’m not saying that other directions of physical therapy are less important, I think they just aren’t for me. It’s just funny how I came in to school all about orthopedics, and now I cringe at the thought of working in an orthopedic setting with the same patients, every day, doing the same thing. It’s very monotonous to me and I think this summer’s clinical placement helped reinforce that outpatient orthopedics may not be for me. I felt like it was very mindless – or maybe I just wasn’t doing things right (which is extremely possible) – but I saw the same patient’s two times a week doing very similar things and progression every once in awhile. Neuro to me is more exciting. It changes every day. You have to adjust every day if they are more fatigued or on different medications, whatever.
Honestly, who knows where I will end up at the end of all of this. You never know, I could end up in an outpatient orthopedic clinic. And I would make the best out of it and love every second because I love this profession. But I just wanted to share how excited and passionate I am feeling about this semester and about Neuro Rehab.
Serious nerd post – sorry not sorry.