Your Therapist and Your Goals

U.S. Marine Staff Sgt. Liam Dwyer:  “You know, when people say you can’t do something or you aren’t able to do something, I don’t like being told that.”

Several years ago, I had the amazing opportunity to observe therapy services at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center. It was there I had the distinguished pleasure of meeting U.S. Marine Staff Sgt. Liam Dwyer.  He had lost his leg, among several other serious injuries, after stepping on an improvised explosive device (IED) in Afghanistan in 2011. He shared his story with me over the course of two days, adding significantly to an already very humbling experience. His story has been aired on ESPN’s ‘SportsCenter,’ as he has beaten the odds and achieved his dream of becoming a successful professional race car driver. His story can be seen here:

Liam had a goal. Not only did he achieve racing on the professional level, he is winning. Exactly three years after his “Alive Day,” (the day he was injured), and following dozens of surgeries and thousands of hours of physical therapy, he won a race in his home state of Connecticut.

What strikes me, particularly as a physical therapist, is that one of his therapists told him he would never be able to operate a clutch, much less race again. “I did not appreciate that at all,” said Dwyer. Fortunately, he proved that therapist wrong.

Your physical therapist should always be 100% focused on your goals. This is my approach, and it’s an approach that works well in benefiting my patients. When searching for a physical therapist, you should question and analyze his or her approach, and make sure they are on board and eager to help you achieve your goals.

Dr. John DeNoyelles, PT, CSCS