Patient Spotlight: Up and Running Again

As told by Kevin Underwood, a patient at Therapydia Tampa

For the last 22 years, I have fluctuated between running, injuries and rehab, with a lot more time spent on the latter. Over that time, I have had piriformis pain, hamstring tears, plantar fasciitis, a stress fracture of my ankle and shin, and 2 knee scopes. I have tried to rehab on my own (yoga, stretching, weights); I have tried acupuncture and chiropractors; and finally I have had physical therapy in more locations that I can probably remember (including locations in Rhode Island, Hawaii, Virginia, Atlanta and Florida). Each time, I fell into the same pattern…run, knee pain, compensate, injury. After enough times of this cycle, I had essentially given up hope of ever returning to running.

However, after feeling knee pain on a simple 30 minute walk, I decided to try one last time to break this loop (after all, I may not run, but I definitely want to walk pain free!). After extensive research of numerous clinics (I even considered flying to Drexel University in Pennsylvania for a gait analysis), I put my faith in Therapydia here in Tampa, FL. I have not regretted it for a single moment.

One-On-One, Undivided Attention

From my very first visit, I could tell Therapydia was different. My initial evaluation with Mary was focused on the weaknesses that have prevented me from running injury free. One example for me was the dorsal flexion of one ankle was an inch less than the other. I have never had that level of analysis. I immediately began to have hope that not only might I walk pain free, I might be able to run again at some point.

My next visit (and every subsequent visit) has reinforced my initial impression. Therapydia’s website states “they believe that there are many paths to wellness and utilize a combination of manual therapy, therapeutic Pilates, and functional strengthening to normalize movement patterns and restore function.”

How many times have we gone to physical therapy, only to be one of three or four patients the therapist is seeing that hour? And how many times have we gone to physical therapy, only to spend good money to do stretches we can easily do at home? Therapydia is the exact opposite.

In my case, Mary, using many of the techniques in Anatomy for Runners, which she recommended I read so I could understand the course of therapy, provided a personal level of attention I have never received before. Every session involved manual therapy, the deep kneading of muscles to restore the movement patterns damaged from years of running, something I had only seen in movies, and did not believe physical therapists actually did!

Each session also involves exercises to strengthen weakened quads, hips and core. After all, as Mary has explained, each step while running is really a single leg squat. Mary demonstrates each exercise/stretch; while this is consistent with other places I have been, what is different is that Mary actively monitors my form and provides immediate correction.

From Rehabilitation To Injury Prevention To a 5K

The net result is that last week, I started running again. And for the first time since I can’t remember when, I did not feel pain while running or the next day. Even better, Mary identified several flaws in my form that would predispose me to getting injured again and is working with me on correcting those flaws. The summary is that for the first time in ages, I have confidence that I will be able to run again, and maybe even compete in a 5K. I would be remiss if I did not highlight two other aspects of the clinic that I have observed.

At least at the Tampa location, they seem to treat a fair number of High School athletes and Ballet Dancers, and I sense that these young adults feel at ease being there because they are treated with respect, kindness and can sense that the therapists have a true interest in them as a person. It is not uncommon to see a patient showing pictures from their competition, recital, or even their prom to their physical therapist. I believe this is the essence of what makes Therapydia different.

The second item is that Therapydia is just down the street from MacDill; as a result, they of course treat a fair amount of military folks. What is more impressive is that Sherrice, Mary and Kelsey give up their own time to go to MacDill and be part of expos and training to try and keep those who serve from having to come visit them. Finally, while I have focused this review on the therapists, they are supported by a Chelsey and Jen who are outstanding at explaining insurance benefits and rearranging schedules so patients can focus on getting healthy.

Therapydia Tampa is the best Physical Therapy Clinic anywhere, and I would (and have) recommended them to anyone.