Physical Therapy goes to the source
By Staff Sgt. Chris Thornbury, 380th Air Expeditionary Wing Public Affairs
/ Published May 28, 2019
AL DHAFRA AIR BASE, United Arab Emirates -- The 380th Expeditionary Medical Group physical therapy team here hits the road to offer the path of recovery to patients.
Many Airmen have very physically demanding jobs, and their work schedules don’t always align with appointments at the clinic; so the physical therapy team travels to see multiple clients within the same unit efficiently and get them back to the fight.
The team of two takes their skills to the MoTown Chapel every Friday to see maintainers that could benefit from the treatments. Throughout the week patients can schedule an appointment with a sign-in sheet on the door.
The team here isn’t constricted with additional duties or assigned to as vast amount of patients as they are back home, allowing them to provide this traveling service.
“I have a lot more freedom here because my sole job is physical therapy,” said Maj. Adam Fry, 380th EMDG physical therapist. “I can reach out to individual groups to see what their needs are, do specific treatments for them and educate them in prevention.”
Fry visited the Explosive Ordnance Disposal unit to teach mobility exercises to get ahead of potential injuries and foam rolling to relieve pressure points. The EOD career field recently implemented a new physical fitness test to ensure their fitness can match the rigorous tasks they may face, which could present new injuries as they introduce new exercises into their training.
Fry has noticed trends of ailments and patterns of different duties. Some tendencies he found are pilots have back and neck pain from their fixed positions, maintainers have shoulder issues from turning wrenches in unconventional areas, and security forces have back and hip pain from carrying all their gear.
A couple of Fry’s tools he involves in treatments are dry needling, a form of acupuncture, and cupping – he has found both to be extremely effective at targeting trigger points, releasing muscle spasms and alleviating pain. Then the technician educates patients on stretches and exercises for strengthening and injury prevention.
Some patients who have serious conditions require multiple treatments to recover completely or as much as possible, while others visit once and leave totally rejuvenated.
“That is one thing that I enjoy about my job: I get to see the whole progression of the rehabilitation process,” said Fry. “A lot of times they notice immediate relief from a treatment. It is nice to see them get up from the table and feel better immediately. They feel better physically and psychologically allowing them to get back to work, exercise and back to what they enjoy doing.”
The duo maintain those who are active in generating missions who in turn support operations throughout the area of responsibility.
“Sometimes as a medic we don’t feel as part of the involvement with the mission,” said Fry. “But indirectly we are able to impact everybody that is involved with the jets, the flyers, the maintainers – anyone with hands on the jet and even those who support them.”