U.S. Army Lt. Col. Henderson Brenner, Medical Element physical therapist, guides a patient through neck stretches designed to eliminate her pain at a clinic in Comayagua, Nov. 8, 2018. The physical therapist performs the initial evaluation of the patient to determine what is wrong and give them exercises to start off to help them with pain and function. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Destinee Sweeney) (Photo by Senior Airman Destinee Sweeney)
A patient practices bending her knees at a clinic in Comayagua, Nov. 8, 2018. Physical therapy is designed to use body movement, including exercises and stretches, as well as heat therapy to help patient’s regain strength, control and flexibility in their muscles. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Destinee Sweeney) (Photo by Senior Airman Destinee Sweeney)
U.S. Army Spc. Devyn Leslie, Medical Element physical therapy technician helps guide his patient through exercises at a clinic in Comayagua, Nov. 8, 2018. The physical therapy team often sees the same patients multiple times to ensure their treatment is going well and that they are practicing the exercises at home. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Destinee Sweeney) (Photo by Senior Airman Destinee Sweeney)
SOTO CANO AIR BASE, HONDURAS —
— After an accident, injury or even as individuals naturally grow older, one’s bodily autonomy can start to feel lost.
The Medical Element physical therapy team are dedicated to helping their patients regain the confidence and control they need through long-term treatment.
“Physical therapy is helping people with musculoskeletal injuries as well as neuro-injuries,” said Spc. Devyn Leslie, MEDEL physical therapy technician. “Here we see anything from patients who have had strokes to people who have had car accidents or fallen off of buildings. Sometimes they might have an injury that causes pain or makes something not work properly, so we try to rehabilitate them to get them back to normal-functioning daily life.”
A patient’s journey with the team starts with talking to the physical therapist about their concerns so that he can determine what is wrong and come up with a game plan of stretches, exercises and heat therapy tailored to their personal issues.
“Our role as therapists is to take one big event like walking and to break it down into the lowest components,” said Lt. Col. Henderson Brenner, MEDEL physical therapist. “Then we build on that using exercises and strengthening so that later on the patient can put it all together to be able to achieve that one goal.”
After an initial visit with the therapist, patients return several more times to work personally with a technician who continues to listen to their concerns and helps them work through their physical ailments.
“We give them exercises we feel would benefit them, a lot of times to reduce pain,” said Leslie. “We also give them functional exercises, similar to what they do day-to-day, to try to strengthen the muscles and also to see what they’re doing wrong to so we can get a visualization of how their body is working so we can find ways to try and correct it.”
Although physical therapy may not be the kind of treatment a patient expects to find walking into a medical clinic, it can teach them valuable skills that can help improve their quality of life and teach them more about how their bodies function. By working with their patients in Comayagua, the physical therapy team hopes to do just that.