After working in multiple settings across a 25 year career as a physical therapist, including 10 years in an outpatient setting, 8 years in home health, and as a rehab director in a hospital sub-acute to ICU setting, I have had a very good career. I have set up and worked in cardiac rehab, aqua therapy, private practice, and contracted my services. And after all of these different settings, I still hear practicing colleagues asking “what other things can I do in this profession?”.
With all my experience, I feel the need to offer a different perspective. 15 years ago, I saw the need for better equipment. With patients coming into therapy more debilitated and heavier than before, this need has continued to increase year after year. Many of my patients are expected to use equipment, both inpatient and outpatient, designed for health fitness industry types.
My colleagues (and myself) are worn out and frankly, tired. Doing manipulations on patients now causes tendonitis in my left elbow. I am working harder to guide my patients to a higher level of functioning than I did 25 years ago. I can understand the sentiment from my colleagues, and I knew I could find a way to work smarter and not harder.
In my garage, late at night, after working long shifts, I developed what is now known as “The MAT”. Starting out as a squat machine nearly 10 years ago, it has slowly evolved into a do-it-all piece of equipment ready to change the way physical therapists work. A way to rejuvenate the physical therapy field. A way to protect physical therapists from physically demanding sessions while providing a better, safer experience for patients.
Engineering was never part of my career path, but I have learned a lot regarding the process as I’ve developed “The MAT”. Thousands of hours, countless revisions, and so many different designs have brought me to where I am. Every time I’ve put the current table into use in my practice, my brain develops new ways to make it even better, more efficient.
Now, when I hear colleagues talking about being tired and worn out, asking what else they can do in our profession, I encourage them to contribute to the development and progression of our field. I ask them to give “the MAT” a chance to change their perspectives. To allow “the MAT” to show them what else physical therapy can be like and to provide a better experience for our patients.