Falsone Forges as First Female Pro Trainer

Sue FalsoneIn late October, the L.A. Dodgers hired Sue Falsone as their head physical therapist. This marked a profound shift in gears, as head positions in athletic organizations have traditionally been a male-dominated field of work.

Falsone has already served as consultant to the baseball team since 2007, but traveling with a team of all-male athletes used to training with an all-male staff brings up questions of gender issues that are not unlike ones often examined by PhD candidates in woman’s studies programs. Will the team respect her as their PT and consider her to a team member, not a female outsider? How will overnight travel with Sue affect the team, individually and as a whole? Will she be able to relate to a male-only team regarding physical issues? How will emotions play into the “game?”

Fortunately, Falsone is well-aware of the dynamics within her organization and has made huge strides in garnering the respect of the team. According to an ESPN article, “the players made her feel like part of the team right from the start”. While some have considered her gender as a potential problem for the team, she brings with her past success of reducing team injuries and has already proven herself capable of strong and efficient management to the team as a consultant.

Falsone was inspired by her aunt at a young age to work in physical therapy. Raised in New York into a traditional Italian family, she quickly learned to become self-motivated and a hard-worker. In 1996, Sue Falsone graduated with a Bachelor’s of Science in Physical Therapy from Daemon University. She directed a private training organization in Tempe, Arizona (Performance Physical Therapy of Athletes Performance), where many pro leagues sent athletes for sports training. Noticed for her successes and innovative techniques, she seemed to possess something special the Dodgers capitalized on.

Acting president of the National Athletic Trainers’ Association, Marje Albohm told the LA Times that this promotion for Falsone marks the beginning of the next frontier for women and that the appointment evolved in a very natural way. Albohm hopes that this event will allow women to be viewed as legitimate candidates for jobs that have traditionally been heavily dominated by men.

Falsone’s appointment is pivotal in allowing women to take up a more visible part in sporting events. Falsone’s focus, not on herself as a woman, but as a trainer is quite a natural style for her. She contends that integrating traditional physical therapy with conditioning and strength training in a holistic manner provides the best training for athletes to excel.

Although Falsone’s promotion has sent ripples through the sports management world, the promotion couldn’t seem any more natural for anyone who’s aware of her expertise in physical therapy. Perhaps the lesson to be learned from this event shouldn’t be about how stunning it was for a woman to be hired in a prominent sports management position, but instead how merit is becoming the new standard for a line of work heavily skewed by gender.

Guest Author: Alexis Bonari – 5 Benefits of Vibram FiveFingers in Physical Therapy

physical therapy patientIf you’re a physical therapist, chances are that you’ve heard of the Vibram FiveFingers craze. Take one look at these shoes, and you’ll think they’re just the next contestant in the recent string of shoes designed to look “unique” for people who would rather look fit than be fit.

I can tell you that Vibrams don’t fall into that category. I’ve had my Vibram FiveFinger Trek Sports for three months and I literally can’t wait to put them on every day when I get home from work. I only run about nine miles a week in them, but when I’m out there on the trails, I can’t believe how great it feels to be wearing these shoes. They have a wide range of health benefits that don’t just affect my feet – my whole body feels more natural when I wear them, and the old aches and pains I used to experience are slowly fading away.

Here are the five main benefits of wearing Vibrams. You might have some patients who could make better progress with these shoes, so take a look to find out whether or not you should recommend them.

  1. Building Strength in Targeted Muscle Groups
    For patients who have suffered injuries in their feet or legs and are on the path to recovery, Vibrams can provide the potential to build muscle strength in atrophied regions more effectively. They stimulate and strengthen muscles in the feet and lower legs, which reduces the risk of future injury while improving general foot health. Patients who are almost ready to “graduate” from physical therapy could benefit strongly from the injury prevention aspect of Vibrams.
  2. Improving Range of Motion
    Because Vibrams separate the wearer’s toes, a whole new range of motion is opened up. Most shoes constrict the foot and impair natural motion, but Vibrams encourage the body to move without constraints. This helps the foot and toes to move more naturally. You can check out a story here from a patient who went through ankle surgery, then started wearing Vibrams after his physical therapist recommended them. He now enjoys an improved range of motion in the previously injured ankle.
  3. Increasing Agility & Balance
    These shoes stimulate neural function, causing thousands of neurological receptors in the feet to send important information to the brain. As a result of this phenomenon, balance and agility are improved naturally. Many patients struggle with balance when recovering from an injury, and that’s one of my favorite things about Vibrams: their ability to help with this crucial step toward recovery.
  4. Aligning Spine & Improving Posture
    As I mentioned above, my aches and pains (which were mostly in my hips and lower back) have all but disappeared after three months of wearing Vibrams. These shoes lower the heel during walking and running, which helps to distribute body weight evenly across the foot bed. This contributes to improved posture and spinal alignment.
  5. Enabling All-Natural Movement
    The innovatively designed Vibrams feel great because they promote natural body movement. This reduces the possibility for practicing physical therapy exercises incorrectly because the body is encouraged to move naturally rather than being forced into certain positions.Tips & Caveats

If you do choose to recommend these shoes to a patient, there are some things you should know about the process of getting used to Vibrams:

  • Wear socks at first. Try the athletic toe socks from Injini, which are designed for this purpose. This increases comfort and prevents rocks and sand from making direct contact with the feet.
  • Ease into it. Wear Vibrams around the house and alternate them with other shoes before using them for exercise.
  • Prepare to get addicted.

Guest Author: Jessica Bosari for Allied Health World – Young PTs Choose Travel

Mature Man Working With a Physical TherapistMedical students have many career paths open to them. Many young people are not prepared for the lengthy and arduous training required to be physicians, but medical careers like physical therapy make a lot of sense. Students can earn their degrees and begin work once they receive their masters’ degrees.

More Freedom, More Pay, More of the World

Traveling physical therapists enjoy higher pay, plus the ability to travel and see the country. Some travel with friends, staying on assignment for 13 weeks, and then picking up another assignment in another location. Many couples meet while in Physical therapy training, get married, and then take traveling assignments until they feel ready to have children. This lets them see the country, broaden their horizons, an meet new people, all while earning an excellent income that pays off their medical schooling costs sooner.

A Smart Foundation for the Future

By traveling in their younger years, physical therapists set themselves up for a stable, steady future. The extra money helps them pay off debt and save for a home. When they find a place to settle down, they can still work travel physical therapy assignments, limited to a smaller geographical area. Some may even seek per diem work, giving them more control over how far they need to travel for work.

PTA or PT, Both are Excellent Opportunities

The top pay for physical therapists just out of school who decide not to travel is around $45 per hour. However, those who are willing to travel to places like Hawaii, Florida, Arizona and other states can make $60 to $80 per hour. Those who decide to pursue physical therapy careers without a Master’s degree can work as physical therapy assistance and make as much as $35 per hour plus food and housing expenses. Although traveling is not for everyone, those willing to do so will enjoy many benefits.

Guest Author: Maria Rainier – Travel Light: Tips for Efficient Packing

travel physical therapist trying to pack suitcaseIf you’re road tripping, you don’t want to fill your vehicle with suitcases – that extra weight decreases your fuel efficiency and it means you’ll have to roll, carry, and otherwise haul all of those suitcases around with you. That’s no way to travel. Things get even worse for the baggage-laden traveling physical therapist who’s flying to the next job since airlines now charge by the suitcase. No matter how you’re getting to your destination, the travel experience will be less of a headache and more of an adventure if you can pack efficiently. That means knowing what’s essential and packing it well. So if you’re interested in lightening your load and learning some professional travel skills, use these tips the next time you’re packing for a new job.

Learn from the Best

Why not get some packing tips from people who travel for a living? The New York Times interviewed seasoned flight attendants and pilots to get some professional packing advice for those of us who would appreciate a lighter suitcase. In addition to these tips, I’ve included a few of my own – most of which I learned the hard way when I flew overseas for the first time. I was literally repacking my suitcase in front of an agent who was telling me I had five minutes before I’d miss my flight. It wasn’t pretty, so avoid getting stuck in that situation and see if you can use some of these tips to start packing like a pro.

  • Pack your necessities first, from largest to smallest.
  • As you pack your necessities, try to fit smaller items inside larger ones. For example, you can put socks inside your shoes and roll small fragile items inside your clothing.
  • Roll your clothes instead of folding and stacking them. You can even place one shirt on top of another and roll them both at the same time.
  • When you travel, wear layers. This is a good way to bring extra clothing and ensure that you won’t be too hot or too cold on the way to and from your destination.
  • Wear your largest, heaviest shoes when you travel – but only if you need them. Try to leave larger shoes at home since they take up a lot of space, and if you must bring a pair, wear them instead of packing them. For example, if you want to go hiking at your destination, wear your boots when you travel.
  • Bring no more than three pairs of shoes. They take up a lot of space and contribute a significant amount of weight.
  • If you bring a lot of electronics, invest in a single charger that’s compatible with all of your items. You can easily find car chargers with interchangeable tips, but if you won’t be driving on your trip, you might consider finding a solar charger. Most of these are equipped to charge a wide variety of devices. By bringing a single charger, you’ll save space and you won’t have to worry about remembering to bring more than one.
  • Avoid bringing a heavy coat. Try wearing thermal tees and long underwear along with a light jacket instead.
  • Ladies, pack basic clothing in neutral solids so you can easily create outfits from just a few pieces. Examples of clothes that can do double duty include black pants, skirts, and tops; wrinkle-free items in a lighter neutral like beige; and a few white tank tops for layering. Add variety with small accessories like scarves and jewelry.
  • Take along an e-reader instead of books and magazines. If you need your laptop, you can even download free e-reader software and use it to read your e-books.

Bio: Maria Rainier is a freelance writer and blog junkie. She is currently a resident blogger at First in Education, writing on online degrees and playing with the newly revealed online college degree calculator. In her spare time, she enjoys square-foot gardening, swimming, and avoiding her laptop.

Guest Author: Wes Herdlein – Hybrid Traveling

During my first 3 years of traveling, I took advantage of the convenience of agency provided housing and furnishings. Since then, I’ve changed the system a bit. It’s not that the current system was broken, it actually worked well. The apartments and furnishing were always nice but excessive for a single guy. Did I really need a sofa AND loveseat? Did I really need a dining room table and 4 chairs? After all, in reality, I eat dinner on the coffee table, remote control in hand.

travel pt packing for assignmentOn average furniture rental runs $500 a month, which adds up to about $6000 a year. With this in mind, I decided to buy an enclosed travel trailer and haul around only the basic furniture needed to survive. I found a used 5×8 foot trailer on craigslist for $1600.00. Into the trailer, I fit a full size sofa, a queen mattress, fold-up tables and chairs, lamps, and a 36″ TV. I even mange to fit a guitar, golf clubs and camping gear. Everything serves a double purpose: empty plastic bins become TV stands, night stands and laundry baskets. Camping chairs become living room furniture. Throw a sleeping bag over the camping chair and it’s a Lazyboy! It is not the most elegant way to live but it works well and is great on the bottom dollar!

I’m able to tow my trailer with a Toyota 4-Runner. It’s easy to hitch and unhitch. When it’s empty, I can lift it easily and drop in onto my car hitch. You can’t take every household item with you, but you can include all of the necessities. If I am missing anything, it can almost always be borrowed or bought at Goodwill for 75 cents.

This won’t work for everyone, but it works for me and my wife. My original $1600 investment has saved me about $18,000 over the past 3 years.

How do you travel? Do you have any thoughts or tips you would like to share?

Wes Herdlein is a Traveling PT and Founder of HealthcareTravelbook.com

Guest Author: Wes Herdlein – The Do’s and Don’ts of PT Licensure

travel physical therapist at deskAfter 6 years as a traveling PT and obtaining licenses in 11 states, I have learned some lessons the hard way. In an effort to make it easier for the next generation, here are a few tips to help you along the way:

1) Maintain your license in your home state. Even if you rarely work there, this helps support your cause if the IRS decides to question your tax free earnings. It’s a smart move to earn some income in your home state every so often as well. (See Joseph Smith’s blogs on this community for more tax tips.)

2) Create some commonly used documents in the application process and keep them up to date. Make a folder on your computer for “state licensure”. Some files that will be helpful are listed below. These can be in either and Excel spreadsheet or a Word document table.

a. Employment History – start and end date, address, supervisor’s name and phone number, agency name, etc

b. Licensure History: State license number, date obtained, current or expired

c. A record of license expiration dates, renewal CEU requirements, and phone and addresses of the state licensing boards. (You can also organize your Favorites folders in your web browser to include all websites needed for licensing and verifications.)

3) I have uploaded a few files that you can use as templates on Healthcare Travelbook. You can find them at http://healthcaretravelbook.com/files.

4) Be nice. Sometimes you need to grease the wheels to push a license application through. Making a “friend” at the license board is sometimes the best way. Write their name down and thank them. (you might even send their boss a kudos for their professionalism, even if they weren’t so professional. They will remember you and be even more helpful when you need a license verification sent from them to another state. This has worked in some desperate situations!)

5) The good, the bad, the ugly: (good = easy to get a license)

a. Good states: North Carolina, Alabama, Wyoming, Oregon, Vermont, and Texas

b. Bad states: Wisconsin, South Carolina

6) Ugly states: New Hampshire, Washington. New Hampshire is the worst by far! Consider going to Vermont or Maine before attempting this one! I can almost promise delays and frustration! Once you do finally get a license there, it’s beautiful year round.

7) Keep your pistols loaded: Have envelopes, stamps, and pre-written letters on your computer. Pull the file, change the date, print, then send – prevent delays from having to stop to buy supplies. Time can be valuable when you begin the licensure process.

8) Use on-line services for transcripts, verifications, exam scores, etc. whenever possible.

9) Expect delays and account for them BEFORE they start! Be persistent but “nice”!

When just starting, it seems like a endless mountain to climb. But it gets easier as you streamline your system. Obviously the more states you travel to, the more verifications you will need to request when applying for a new state. Verifications for me range from $10 to $50. With 11 of them required (and counting!) this can add up quickly.

Good luck and TRAVEL ON!

Wes Herdlein is a Traveling PT and Founder of HealthcareTravelbook.com