Meet our new students! Volume I

Hello readers!

Monica
Monica LoConti, 3rd year PT student, Columbia University

Like doctors, nurses, and many other practitioners, physical therapists are required to do clinical rotations in order to gain experience and graduate from their program. Every year, Beyond Basics participates in hosting a final year physical therapy doctoral student to complete his or her clinical. This year is no different, except this year we took two! Both of our students Monica  and Julia are in their final year of their doctoral program at Columbia University. They were selected to join us because of their high academic achievement, interest in pelvic floor rehabilitation, and completion of pelvic floor continuing education classes. We are honored to have them and we want to take some time to introduce them to you.  Our first profile is that of Monica.

 

1.) Where are you from, if you are from somewhere else, what brought you to NYC?

I was born here in New York City  and then raised in Central New Jersey. For undergrad, I went to New York University  where I received my Bachelor of Fine Arts in Drama and have stayed in New York  to complete my doctorate at Columbia University.

2.) Did you work before PT school, if so what did you do?

I was a fitness trainer for 10 years before physical therapy school  school, working as a master trainer and spokesperson for New York Sports Clubs, as well as the Official Trainer for Subway Restaurants. I was also a contributing editor for Fitness Magazine. Currently, I train and teach yoga privately.

3.) What made you want to be a PT?

Although I loved working with healthy clients as a trainer, I always wished that I could help people more when they were injured. Physical therapy allows me to help people on that deeper level. Plus, I also always loved learning about the human body and wanted to go beyond the advanced personal training certifications I was collecting. Working with people has always been a part of my life and physical therapy allows me to continue connecting with individuals while I’m given an opportunity to improve their lives.

4.) What made you want to intern at Beyond Basics?

When I was volunteering at PT clinics before I began PT school, I had THREE different friends who needed pelvic PT at the same time. One friend needed rehab after surgery for endometriosis and also had dyspareunia. The second person had severe back and pelvic pain post-partum. The third friend was having urinary incontinence issues during the second trimester of her pregnancy. Fortunately, these friends invited me to come to their PT sessions to observe their treatments. I saw how much pelvic health rehabilitation improved my friends’ lives first hand. This helped me realize my desire to become a Pelvic Health therapist. Beyond Basics’ reputation for quality patient care is well known and I want to learn from the best. After attending seminars at Beyond Basics and experiencing the warm, welcoming, professional atmosphere, I had no doubt as to where I’d want to complete my final internship.

5.) What do you do for fun?

I’m the principal director for the Class of 2017 for Fairytale Physical Therapy, a group of physical therapy students that brings musical theatre to children in hospitals. Each show teaches the kids two choreographed dances that are composed of therapeutic exercises. Last week, I played Elsa at Blythedale Children’s Hospital and LOVED it (My husband jumped in and played Kristoff too!). My 4 year old dog Lola and I also compete in agility (think: jumping over hurdles and through tunnels). I also teach Pet CPR/First Aid and am a Reiki Master Teacher.

6.) What piece of advice would you give to someone just starting in PT school?

Physical therapy school is like trying to drink out of a fire hydrant. There’s only so much you can drink at once and that’s okay. You’ll have a whole career ahead of you to understand absolutely everything. Schedule time for yourself. Make time for your loved ones. Even if it’s only 30 minutes. You will be refreshed and efficient for school if you allow yourself to take breaks every once in awhile. Breathe. Focus. Believe in yourself.

Without Happy Ankles and Feet, We Don’t Have a Leg to Stand On!

foot

By, Amy Stein, DPT and Fiona McMahon, DPT

Our ankles function to help us do simple tasks from walking down the hall, climbing stairs to advanced tasks like cutting during a high level soccer game. Ankles need two things to do their job well. They need stability to allow us to transfer our weight onto them and mobility to absorb forces, like little shock absorbers when we move. A deficit in either one of these area’s can affect our ability to efficiently do certain activities and may cause pain in the foot and ankle itself or further up the leg.   As physical therapists we evaluate and treat ankle and foot issues to get the athlete or non-athlete back to optimal function.  

Get this, the foot has 26 bones, 33 joints and 100 muscles in it. There is a lot to look at and unfortunately, a lot that can go wrong with the foot. As physical therapists and especially here at Beyond Basics Physical Therapy, we like to use a systematic approach when evaluating the foot and ankle. We look at the foot’s range of motion (how far it can move), its strength, it’s ability to move well (motor control), and whether or not something’s not moving well when it comes to the soft tissue or the joint of the foot. If something’s up with any of these categories we open our tool box and treat using functional manual therapy, neuromuscular and postural re-education and self care!

Things we look at

  • In standing we assess the patient’s baby squat ( or plié, as our former dancers would call it) we are looking to see if there is an issue with the tissue of the foot’s ability to stretch and fold
  • Heel raise: We look at our patient’s’ ability to go up on their toes, aberrant or weird motions tell us about motor control, strength, and joint mobility.
  • Arm Swing: We promise this isn’t to make our patients look silly. It allows us to assess pronation and supination, which are super important motions of the foot.
  • End feel: We will passively move the patient’s foot and ankle through its range of motion to assess how the joint feels. It can tell us a lot about what’s wrong and where it’s coming from.
  • Palpation: We pride ourselves on our hands at Beyond Basics Physical Therapy. One of our PT’s calls it our “brain hands”. Palpation can reveal a ton about what’s going on in the foot.

These are all pretty basic first steps when assessing our patients. They are the starting point, but by no means the finish line. Once we get the big picture we will refine our examination to see what’s going on when our patients are doing their specific sport or activity. Once we get a good handle on  what’s going on we select the most appropriate techniques for our patients. Each patient is different and one basic protocol for everyone isn’t how we roll at BBPT. If you think your ankles or feet could use a little extra TLC, book an appointment today. To get the ball rolling, check out our blog written by our therapist, Denise Small . 

Happy Marathon Training Season! Preserve your Performance with Beyond Basics Physical Therapy!

Fiona's Marathon photo

Fiona McMahon, DPT

Marathon training season is just around the corner! If you are competing in the New York Marathon, it’s about time to lace up those sneakers and set off on your 18 or 20-week training plan. As an experienced marathon runner, I know personally the frustration and anxiety that can accompany being sidelined from the action. Prior to my days as a PT, I accumulated ankle injuries, knee injuries (both of my knees), and hip injuries while training for various races. These injuries were so upsetting, I had given up my weekends with my friends to wake up for 20 mile long runs on Sunday, I had gone through more sneakers than I care to think about, and coughed up $300 a race in entry fees. Total bummer.
At the time of my first marathon, I was not a physical therapist; rather I was working in a genetics lab in Maine. I was fortunate to have two physical therapists that worked for my company help me when my knee became so painful I could not stand to work at my lab bench, let alone run 26.2 miles. Through weeks of work, they returned me to my old self and I successfully completed my first marathon in Mount Desert Island, Maine. Since that time, I have run 4 marathons and sought the help of physical therapists to help stave off injuries and allow me to train at my top capacity as I push closer towards a Boston Marathon qualification time.
Physical therapy helped me gain a critical awareness of my deficits as a runner. I found out I had a weak butt, tight iliotibial bands, and hamstrings. Who knew?! There is a lot as runners that we tend to overlook in terms of physical fitness. Many of us believe that putting in the mileage alone will prepare our bodies to endure the stress of months of training on hard pavement. It won’t. We need a strong core and hip stabilizers to reduce the impact on our joints. We need long and strong muscles to help generate enough force to efficiently move your body the length of the race. If you are only thinking cardio with marathon training, chances are good you are missing something that could help your overall time and health.
If you are starting out on your first 26.2 mile journey (or any athletic journey), or completing your 30th, don’t ignore your body’s signals that there might be an injury that needs attention. Treating an injury early with good physical therapy treatment is often much easier than treating one later on. Early treatment also minimizes disruption to your original training plan.
At Beyond Basics Physical Therapy, we go beyond what is offered in many physical therapy clinics. Our clinicians are orthopedic experts and spend an hour with their patients in one-on-one treatments, creating specialized plans to keep you in tip-top shape and return you to training faster. We are trained to look at the athlete holistically to determine the specific cause of a patient’s injury/deficit rather than a cookbook “one size fits all approach).
As clinicians, our goal is not only to heal our patients but to empower them to know more about their own bodies and to be able to take control of preventing future injuries. We take pride in our specialized home exercise plans, which a runner or any athlete for that matter, can take with them for the rest of his or her athletic career. I encourage you as a runner, to check us out and learn more about your running needs.