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Physical Therapist Overcomes Her Own Barriers

Posted Sep 14 2008 2:40pm

Jberg_2 Physical Therapists are renowned for helping those with injuries or disabilities overcome obstacles in the name of higher function. Amputees, patients with spinal cord injuries, and even those with broken bone rely on the physical prowess of their therapist to help them regain movement and maximize function.

Lost in this picture, however, are the physical attributes required to be a physical therapist. Once in college, my advisor tried to encourage me to "find a new career" because I needed an excuse note from phys. ed class as I recovered from multiple knee surgeries. She told me that I wouldn't be able to handle the demands of the job of physical therapist if I couldn't even handle gym class.

I was astounded and thought surely this must be a "bad apple" and ignored her comments. I thought to myself, "How could a profession based on helping people overcome functional limitations require those who actually do the work to have no room for their own limitations?"

Well, after practicing for a number of years I discovered two things.

  1. My advisor was wrong and I was correct to ignore her comments. Perhaps she had a bad day.
  2. My advisor was correct, and being a physical therapist required a certain degree of physical skills: strength, flexibility, well-stabilized spine, good body mechanics, and so on.

This was a long story to get to my point. I came across this article about newly minted, Dr. Jennifer Berg, DPT. Jennifer has a bit of a short arm which ends just above her elbow.

She likewise ignored her professor's concerns about the profession's physical requirements and is graduating today as a new physical therapist. I admire her courage, because I know how I felt when my physical ability was questions...and I only had a sore knee! She must be made of some real moral fiber and I'm happy to welcome her to the profession!


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