Friday, September 9, 2011

The Rewards of Physical Therapy

Erin Leach remembers sitting in her advanced biology class during her senior year at Jefferson Township High School in Oak Ridge. "My classmates were bored," she recalls, "but all I could think about was how fascinating all this information was. I thought, ‘Wow, this is what your body is made of, and this is what makes it move." That interest led her to pursue a career in physical therapy, earning both master’s and doctor of physical therapy degrees from the University of Scranton. The Sparta resident, who grew up in Lake Hopatcong, worked in sports medicine and then tried a nursing home setting before moving on to work with children with developmental disabilities – first at Cerebral Palsy of North Jersey’s Horizon High School in Livingston and, since November 2008, at the Matheny Medical and Educational Center, a special hospital and educational facility here for children and adults with medically complex developmental disabilities.
"I’ve ended up enjoying Matheny more than anything else I’ve ever done," Leach says. "In a nursing home, you can improve somebody’s function pretty significantly, but here, with the kids, there is just so much more energy. I started to realize that what I do can really help them forever. With this population, even though the change doesn’t happen quickly, I always know I’m doing something with them they wouldn’t otherwise get the opportunity to do – like sitting up or standing up by themselves. I’ve learned to shift my focus and think more long-term. I can look back and say, ‘Wow, they’re doing this much better’ – even if it may just be the smallest little thing."

1 comment:

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