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On this week’s episode of the Healthy, Wealthy and Smart Podcast, I welcome Dr.Tami Struessel and Colleen Rapp on the show to discuss holistic physical therapy.  Tami is an Assistant Professor in the Doctor of Physical Therapy Program at the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus and treats patients in an outpatient clinic. Colleen Rapp has worked as a journeyman and press operator at The Denver Post for more than 30 years. Decades of physically demanding work plagued Colleen with back and shoulder injuries as well as significant chronic pain, ultimately requiring surgery. In 2014, she turned to physical therapist and University of Colorado faculty member Tami Struessel, PT, DPT, OCS, MTC for care.

In this episode, we discuss:

-The key elements that allowed Tami and Colleen to develop a strong therapeutic alliance

-The importance of a holistic treatment approach to physical therapy care

-How Tami’s treatment approaches have shifted to be more patient centered

-How physical therapy has changed all aspects of Colleen’s life

-And so much more!

 Resources:

Colleen Rapp Twitter

Colleen Rapp Facebook

Physio Pro Website

University of Colorado Tami Struessel

Clinical Outcomes Summit: use the discount LITZY

Benefit Concert for CU PT Scholarship

More information on CU Giving Scholarship Program 

For more information on Tami:

Tami began with Physio pro in 2018, and enjoys working with patients after all types of injuries and surgeries.  She is an Assistant Professor in the Doctor of Physical Therapy Program at the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus, and has been awarded Bachelor’s, Master’s and Doctoral degrees in Physical Therapy. Clinically, she has been recognized since 2003 as an Orthopedic Clinical Specialist (OCS) through the American Board of Physical Therapy Specialists and since 1999 as a Certified Manual Therapist (MTC) through the University of St. Augustine. She is a past recipient of the American Physical Therapy Association-Colorado Chapter Physical Therapist of the Year, and teaches, and researches in the areas of clinical reasoning, orthopedic physical therapy practice, and practice management.  She is a member and past president of the Colorado State Physical Therapy Board through the Colorado Department of Regulatory Agencies (DORA).

Outside of work, she spends as much time with her family in the mountains as possible, enjoying cycling, hiking, skiing, snowshoeing and mountain music festivals. She has 2 adorable dogs, Daisy a boxer/great dane mix, and retired seeing eye dog Donovan, a yellow lab.

 

For more information on Colleen:

Life-Changing Experience with Physical Therapist Inspires Patient to Give Back

Colleen Rapp has worked as a journeyman and press operator at The Denver Post for more than 30 years. Colleen noted, “I’m very proud to be a woman working in a ‘man’s world’ where the work is difficult, but rewarding.”

Decades of physically demanding work plagued her with back and shoulder injuries as well as significant chronic pain, ultimately requiring surgery. In 2014, she turned to physical therapist and University of Colorado faculty member Tami Struessel, PT, DPT, OCS, MTC for care.

After being introduced to and working with Tami at Physio Pro Physical Therapy in Denver, Colleen’s outlook on maintaining a healthy lifestyle began to shift. Colleen reflected, “Life-changing care, to me, is defined as care that influences great changes in self.” From the beginning, Tami approached Colleen’s treatment from the whole-person perspective. “In addition to my treatment, Tami showed me online anatomy classes so I could learn muscle groups and have a better understanding of my body,” she said. Additionally, Tami introduced her to things like a calming application, in efforts to reduce stress.

Tami said, “Colleen is one of those patients who truly embraces the idea of becoming stronger and healthier, and is a huge believer in physical therapy.”

“For years, I viewed my work as my exercise,” she said. Through the help of Tami, Colleen lost 30 pounds, has better eating habits and consistently exercises 5-6 days a week. “Tami has taught me the concept of working smarter, not harder,” said Colleen.

“I feel like a whole new person thanks to my care, and it has led to a newfound appreciation for exercise and for keeping my body strong,” Colleen added. “Tami really wants to see her patients succeed, it matters to her.”

Admittedly, Colleen wasn’t fully aware of physical therapy and its importance when she was first referred. From learning movement, stability and range of motion among other things, she realized there were many elements of physical therapy beyond what she initially thought. “I realized that physical therapy was the most important thing in between the points of injury and health,” she said. While every day presents challenges to stay on a good path of nutrition, exercise and the willingness to strengthen her physical fitness, Colleen is greatly appreciative of Tami’s influence and care in her life.

“Through her hard work, Colleen has transformed herself into a much healthier and more resilient person,” said Tami. “To me, that is what being a physical therapist is all about!”

Colleen’s experience and Tami’s impact was so life-changing that Colleen felt inclined to give back. With Tami being a Professor for the CU Physical Therapy Program, Colleen felt the best way to honor her was to support funding for student scholarships. Colleen initiated a fundraising campaign for the Physical Therapy Student Scholarship Endowment, supporting future leaders in physical therapy. “I not only personally donated, but I’ve run multiple online auctions where I have sold sports and music memorabilia,” she said. Colleen is not only motivated to improve herself and her quality of life, but ensuring the availability of funds to help the next generation of physical therapists impact their own patients.

CU Program Director Margaret Schenkman, PT, PhD, FAPTA has led the charge behind student scholarships since the inception of the CU PT Scholarship & Endowment Board in 2012. Colleen noted, “Margaret supported my efforts to give back and help the students. She reached out to me with so much kindness.”

“I know that my efforts will impact a student’s life just like Dr. Struessel has impacted mine,” added Colleen. “She’s far more than my physical therapist.”

 Read the full transcript below:

Karen Litzy:                   00:01                Hi Tami and Colleen, welcome to the podcast. I’m so excited to have both of you on. As I said before we went on the air, this is a first time I’ve had a physical therapist and a patient on at the same time. So I’m excited for the listeners to learn from both of you. So welcome. Welcome to the podcast. All right, so Colleen, let’s start with you. So, why did you seek out a physical therapist?

Colleen Rapp:               00:32                Well I was working and I hurt my back and I went to a doctor and basically he had me go to physical therapy, which I had gone before maybe like a couple of weeks. So I wasn’t really familiar with physical therapy, but I had hurt my back really bad. So I knew it was going to be a long road and I was kind of nervous at first. And so he recommended me to go to low high physical therapy. And that’s where I met Tami.

Karen Litzy:                   01:02                And so I know you said you didn’t know a lot about physical therapy, but once you were referred to physical therapy, did you look anything up? Did you have any expectations?

Colleen Rapp:               01:13                I really didn’t have many expectations because I’m working with a lot of people that have gotten hurt in my job, I’m a pressman of the Denver Post. It wasn’t a very good report from the people because they just didn’t get a lot out of it. So it was kinda like, oh, I’m going to physical therapy, what a drag. And that’s kind of what I was looking at. So I didn’t really know a lot about it, so I just kind of walked in there and had to go basically.

Karen Litzy:                   01:45                Okay. And so Tami, let’s talk about kind of that first visit. Did you know any of this before Colleen came in to see you or did she say, Oh, I’m just here because the doctor told me to.

Tami Struessel:             01:57                Well, this particular clinic, sees a fair number of people who are press operators at the Denver Post where where Colleen works. And, so I had seen, you know, a few people here and there. So I knew a little bit about the job. I knew it was a pretty physical job that they had a fairly high injury rate. I evaluated her and, you know, found out that she had had a long a history of being very healthy in her job until she hurt her back and that she was, you know, she was in a lot of pain and I’m having a really hard time getting back to work. And so that’s where we started.

Karen Litzy:                   02:45                And it’s kind of look at this as like a mini case study right now. Right. So Colleen she comes in with low back pain, injured at work calling. Were you unable to work at the time?

Colleen Rapp:               03:01                Yes, I was taking off work. I could barely walk. So I was taking off work. I couldn’t even go down to modified duty. I was at home.

Karen Litzy:                   03:10                Okay. So Tami kind of walk us through your evaluation, meaning when she came in, what kind of questions did you ask for this subjective? And then what did you look at for the objective part of the eval?

Tami Struessel:             03:36                She’d had a long history of working in a very physical job and the vast majority of people that do the job or are men and that she had been very successful and really loved her job and worked hard at it and was very proud of it. And I think she’s still very proud of it.

Tami Struessel:             03:58                And I think I asked probably fairly typical questions about the mechanism of injury, how she was injured and you know, what kinds of, you know, what kinds of things she was not able to do and what kinds of things she could still do. And then did a full lumbar and hip examination, which I always do. You know, kind of head to toe but focused on those areas.

Karen Litzy:                   04:31                After that evaluation, Colleen, what did you feel after that first visit when you left? Did you feel like, oh I think I’m in good hands here? Or were you like, oh maybe this might work but I’m not sure.

Colleen Rapp:               04:46                No, I definitely at first knew I was in good hands with the way Tami treated me when I came in. I think she knew I was a little nervous and so she kind of, you know, kind of joked with me and she kind of liked explained things to me and then she examined me. But through the examination it was very comfortable. So I was like, oh okay, this isn’t so bad. You know, you have to feel comfortable at first and get that report and then you’re just not like shaking going, oh my gosh, where am I at? And so I think after like 20 minutes of that and just talking to her, cause the first session was an hour and after her examination she sat with me for about like 10 minutes and explained everything to me about, not exactly what was wrong with me because she doesn’t really believe in that she believes in, you know, the fact that I need to know to listen and not concentrate on that. So she kind of just explained to me about, that we were going to work together. I was going to see her twice a week in that we were just going to get me better and get me stronger and made me feel really comfortable. And that was the first step of like just being a good experience.

Karen Litzy:                   06:03                And you know, before we went on the air, I’ve talked about this idea of a therapeutic relationship. And I think Colleen, you just really described a really great first step in achieving a therapeutic relationship. So Tami, did you have a sense when Colleen left that A she is going to be coming back and B she was probably going to be pretty invested in this.

Tami Struessel:             06:36                I mean, I guess there’s always a possibility that you don’t connect with people and that they, you know, they choose not to come back. But I didn’t get that sense from her. I think, from the very beginning she was very interested and I think because she does like her job a lot and, really wanted to get back to it. Just in general she was invested and I think one of the things she talked about is, as most people do, to know the thing that was wrong with her back. And I’m pretty averse to the, you know, biological approach model and explaining all of the anatomy and everything.

Tami Struessel:             07:27                Because I’ve been doing this now for 28 years, so, I used to do a lot of that. And I realize now that that’s just not healthy. And she, she actually, you know, she embraced that. And she already said that that clearly is kind of a core principle for me that, you know, I’m not gonna, I’m not gonna, you know, get that model out and say, here’s the thing that’s wrong with your back. And, you know, unfortunately sometimes, you know, depending on who she’s talked to, whether that’s coworkers or that’s the nurse at work or that’s one of the workers comp physicians or something like that. I think she got a little bit of that. And I tried to divert away from that mindset and that she’s really been very receptive. She doesn’t ask me very much anymore exactly what you know about my disk or about my, you know, I mean, we talked a little bit about your SI joint but we try not to focus too much on it.

Karen Litzy:                   08:32                Right. And so Colleen from a patient standpoint, what Tami was saying, is it just for your clarity, so a lot in the physical therapy world, we used to rely on the sort of biomedical model where you know there is an issue with the tissue A plus B equals C. So this hurts and this tissue is quote damaged. This is why you have pain. Now pain, we know is much more complex and we use what’s called a bio psycho social model of care, which is, yes there is the bio part is still in there, but we also want to take into consideration that there are psychological aspects to pain and social aspects to pain. So Colleen, my question for you is, did you feel like not focusing solely on the biomedical part of it or just on the tissue part of it was helpful for you in your recovery?

Colleen Rapp:               09:34                Yes, because it made me realize that I needed to just work and get better instead of like, oh, this is what happened to me, this is what I have and if I knew, I think I probably would have been scared, you know, or like, Oh, poor me or this or that. And I didn’t want to get into that, that view point. I wanted to kind of just say, okay, all right, I got somebody that just basically let’s do this. Let’s get working, let’s get me back to work. I’ll work with you. You work with me, I’ll teach you things and do the best for me. And I needed to listen and I needed to do those things. And that attitude gave me the will to do that and not focus on the other stuff. And that helped. It really did. If you get your mind focusing on what is wrong it doesn’t really help. You got to kind of move on and try to do the things you need to do to get better.

Karen Litzy:                   10:32                Yeah. I think that’s great advice for anyone. Instead of dwelling on what’s wrong, let’s start dwelling on what’s right and what you can do to improve your function and to improve your life. Two very, very different ways of looking at things. And from a patient standpoint. I think that’s great to hear. Now, Tami, you were saying before we went on that, okay, the back thing was a couple of years ago, but then there were also some other things. So Colleen is a bit of a repeat offender, no offense Colleen. But again, I think that shows the strength of the relationship. And now I don’t know what the laws are in Colorado, but do you have direct access there?

Tami Struessel:                                     Yeah, we have a 100% direct access.

Karen Litzy:                                           Lucky. So, Colleen, when you were injured, let’s say subsequently after the back, you had gone to see Tami for other things. Did you know just to go straight to her or do you still have to go through a system?

Colleen Rapp:               11:32                When I went I hurt my shoulder, I basically asked my doctor if I could see her and I told my doctor that I was comfortable with her and the success that I had with her, with my serious back injury and that I really felt comfortable with her and he was okay with that.

Tami Struessel:             11:54                These were work related injuries. So there’s always going be a claims process and a physician, now take a little bit of a step back after we finished treatment related to her back. We did do some training sessions to really get her beyond, you know, kind of basic back to work and those kinds of things and work a lot on fitness and exercise and those kinds of things, which was fairly new for her. I mean, not that she didn’t exercise before, but I think she can probably talk about like what her fitness routine was like.

Colleen Rapp:               12:43                Okay. So I think that the most important thing that we’re kidding here and I have to kind of come on and for 33 years I worked at the post and I’d never really had an injury and like little things until like five years ago when I hurt my back and that it just seemed like, the last few years with the, you know, staff decrease in everything, we might work a little bit harder or faster and stuff. And I think things have gotten a little bit to where I had had like three injuries and so that’s really cool cause Tami actually working with her has reminded me to always make sure that I work smarter than harder and got me back to where no matter what my position is, my work or my life or anything, I always have to be smart and I always have to take care of myself first and you know, be careful what I do and think about what I do. Cause it’s the job I do is very dangerous and it is really scary. And, this whole PT thing is really important because it did change everything that I do at my job and it has made it so much safer for me.

Karen Litzy:                   14:04                So Colleen, I’m going to ask out of pure ignorance here, what exactly does your job entail?

Colleen Rapp:               14:21                I actually worked on a five story press. Like on TV where the paper’s coming on a conveyor and yeah that’s what I worked on. They’re a little bit more fancier but they’re a little bit bigger. Now there are about five stories high. They’re really long. I’m really not sure how long they are, but I do like 600 steps a day. I lift 50 pounds, I push a 1500 pound rolls. I do a lot of climbing. I do a lot of everything. It’s eight hours, 10 hours, sometimes 12 hours of just physical work.

Karen Litzy:                   14:56                Okay. Wow. So that’s a lot. So now Tami, as Colleen is coming to you for various injuries. You obviously have this in mind. So my question for you, and this might be some good advice for other physical therapists who might be listening, is how did you take into account her job and the requirements of her job when it came to exercise prescription and things like that. And then, and now I understand why you moved onto the fitness part of things because you know, you hear a lot like, well, insurance cut me off so all we could do or just these little exercises or I only saw the patient for six weeks when in reality, we know they need a lot more to stay healthy and to not reinjure themselves. So what advice would you have for therapists who need to take into account the person’s very physical job?

Tami Struessel:             16:02                Yeah, so I think there’s probably two components of that. So, one is definitely, the work itself and, you know, if I was having her do basic, you know, transverse abdominal contractions and, and those kinds of things, it was just never going to be, you know, to a point where she was able to, you know, get strong enough to actually physically do her job before. And I knew she was able to do it before so she would be able to. So there was definitely, I believe in Colleen could tell you this. I believe in hard exercise. I think sometimes we don’t push people enough and some of it does have to do with, there’s times where we have a very short, you know, we see somebody for three weeks and, you know, how much can you do from a fitness standpoint.

Tami Struessel:             16:55                But we were lucky. We got to see Colleen for longer. And so I had her work hard, as far as kind of general exercise and fitness and getting stronger. There was a time in my career where I would go out and visit the patient and see what their job was and those days are mostly gone, honestly. We get video, you know, off of people’s phones. And so I had a pretty good idea of what the work was. But, several times Colleen, brought in, you know, we’ve talked about it and she’s brought in video of, you know, the types of work that she needs to do. And then we would go through things like, you know, so what of your job duties do you think is the hardest or most trickiest? Because she would have to get into like, you know, awkward positions or I think I remember trying to work with her on like what her foot position was or something. She’s like, you realize I’m standing on this little bitty platform that I can’t really move off of. And I was like, oh, well maybe we need to re rethink that. So I don’t know if Colleen you want to talk more about that asset

Colleen Rapp:               18:10                There’s sometimes where like I’m standing on a platform and there’s like a drop on either side of me and I have to reach up and lift up probably about a 45 pounds piece of press. It’s called a bar and turn it around and position it in a different way without falling. And it’s really crazy because on this precept, the press, there’s an air connection to it. So once you take it off where it goes, it pulls you back. And so you have to be pretty strong and you have to be pretty smart or you know, you’re in trouble. You can drop it, break your toe or something. So I think we worked on that and that was the most important thing that I think while we’re on the subject is the greatest thing about Tami was, is that she saw that I needed to stay strong. When you injure yourself, I think that you have to learn that it’s not over.

Colleen Rapp:               19:11                As soon as you walk out at therapy, you have to stay strong. You have to keep on doing your job and you have to do the things that are going to make you able to do that and not keep getting hurt. So would this keep working together? I learned all kinds of stuff. I learned how to, you know, just talking with her, she would say, well, can’t you move the press down a little bit so you’re not, your arms aren’t up so high or can you just position yourself or can you not twist? Then, it just all made sense to me and I always say that you can walk up some stairs and you come up really fast. This for example, but if you walk up the stairs right, sounds weird. But if you walk them up right, you can do a whole bunch of them and you’re not hurting yourself. But if you don’t do things right, the repetition does wear on you. So my period of time with Tami and learning all these things and doing the things that I needed to learn just totally, it was life changing for me.

Karen Litzy:                   20:12                That’s amazing. Tami what a great job. And if I can go back to kind of just reiterate what you had said before. So when you’re working with someone who may be has a complicated job situation, not everyone sits at a desk for, you know, eight to 10 hours a day. Not everyone does that. I love the advice of asking the patients to take video of what they need to do. And then the question that you asked, well what are the things that you know are most problematic for you? What are the trickiest things you need to do at your job? Because if you can get the things that are the hardest things to do, I would imagine that working on those and getting some confidence and to be able to do those really difficult parts of the job, then you can get down to like some of the easier work after.

Tami Struessel:             21:04                Definitely. Yeah. I mean, and some things are not modifiable. I mean, when you’re a large piece of equipment. But what I found with Colleen is she was so familiar with the job and what she had to do that, you know, both we could work together to find alternative ways or alternative positions. I’m like, is there any way you could step up or, you know, do something so that you’re not reaching so high or, you know, whatever. And many times she was like, Oh, actually, I’ve never really thought about doing it that way. I’ll try. And, often she was successful with that. And the other aspect was that she had such seniority that she is able to, she has such seniority that she’s able to bid on shifts that are a little bit healthier for her in general now. We can talk about things like sleep and diet and stress reduction and weight loss and all these things are a result of her really embracing the idea of, you know, she wanted to continue to work. She knew that she wasn’t probably going to be able to, if she didn’t really change her lifestyle. And to her credit, she absolutely did. And I repeatedly tell her she’s the one that put in the hard work cause I can do all of these same things with somebody else and if they don’t take it seriously and they don’t really embrace it, then it doesn’t matter.

Colleen Rapp:               22:42                I think that that’s the greatest thing about this is Tami taught me it’s not the exercise it’s eating well, nutrition, losing weight, sleeping good, using your environment. I was hiking today and I was thinking about, you know, about what the most important thing about, you know, physical therapy and everything was, and I always think that some people that are really working out and stuff, they have to use weights and they have to do things and they think they’re so strong and they still do things wrong. And I was hiking and I was like, I use my environment to make myself better every day because of Tami care. By the way, I walked,  at work, the way I move and the way I eat, the way I sleep, the way I think because actually, injuries and especially a couple injuries, you know, I just got out of one injury and got hurt again and that was totally mentally hard on me and all this connects to the patient and that’s what a patient goes through.

Colleen Rapp:               23:58                So when you can correlate all this in your life as a whole body and like Tami teaches, it’s amazing. It is. I truly believe that physical therapy is the most important thing between the point of injury and health. And if you keep on going, I’m going to be walking when I’m 62 and I want to be doing a whole bunch of things and it has just changed my life.

Karen Litzy:                   24:23                I think this is such a great example, Tami, of being a physical therapist, treating at the top of your license and really, really incorporating lifestyle change into your practice. You know, it sounds to me like you’re more than I see someone for a bout a therapy they’re discharged, Versus giving them a lot of skills and tools to not just take care of that bum knee or the painful shoulder, low back pain, but rather let’s look at this person as a whole. Let’s take a holistic view of this person. So you know, you said you’ve been

 

Karen Litzy:                   25:23                practicing for 28 years. I’ve been practicing for like 20, so I can certainly attest that my views have completely changed from when I first started. So I’m not going to assume that yours have or haven’t, but if they have changed, where was it in your career where you feel like you had a major shift? Like I can say I know exactly when I had sort of this major shift in treatment paradigm. Did you have that major shift or was it just as more research came out, you just started incorporating all of this? Or were you doing it from the beginning.

Tami Struessel:             26:03                I would say that I don’t know that I had a shift. I’m fortunate enough to teach at the University of Colorado and so I’m around really smart people all the time and I don’t want to minimize how that is so important including people that practice in all different areas. And so I’ve learned a lot from, you know, from our neuro folks, from our cardiopulm folks, from other, you know, musculoskeletal people. I guess, you know, there was a shift at some point, and I don’t even remember, I think I might’ve gone to a course where the emphasis is like, you know, your orthopedic people have neurological systems. I would say that’s probably, if I had to have a point of shifting that was like, oh, of course, you know, if I’m not addressing that, then, you know, then I’m missing the boat.

Tami Struessel:             27:06                That was a while ago. But, I would say from a language standpoint, you know, therapeutic neuroscience education and motivational interviewing and some of the things that, you know, I think probably took the first of those about maybe four or five years ago. So, I was never a big, well, I can’t say never, but I think I figured out that, you know, just pulling out the spine model and scaring people to death was probably not a good idea a long time ago. But I do think that that, you know, I think we all have learned that probably some of the language that we use is not helpful. I don’t know if I had a Aha moment or it’s just, I think I’ve always been very open and from my first outpatient job, I remember I did inpatient for a couple of years and then, I worked at a clinic where the people had continuing education lists that were just enormous and that had a big impact on me. I specifically remember thinking, you know, wow, these people really are invested in learning and learning from each other as well. I think that was instilled in me very, very early in my career and it’s continued with me. I have a pretty long continuing education list because I’ve, you know, been able to glean something from every single thing that I’ve gone to.

Karen Litzy:                   28:40                Yeah. That’s amazing. And Colleen, as the patient, do you get a sense of that, this sort of lifelong learner in Tami?

Colleen Rapp:                                       Oh, yeah. I think Tami inspires me. I mean, I kind of look at her like, who else could you be in your profession? I meen, you teach, you practice, you govern, you everything, you know, I mean it’s so inspirational. I have to tell you one thing that she did for me that was kind of relative for this. Not only did she teach me about my health and help me see my things, I kind of like, I’m in a world where the press room so I’m not like very, I’m educated, I’m smart, but I’m smart and the things that I know, and she introduced me to classes online where I could learn about anatomy. And so I took them and it was amazing. She taught me how to be a better person in a whole bunch of ways and being able to go into a doctor’s office and know what my quads were and kind of explain things a little bit more and understand what we were doing and what was firing and actually all the way around. It’s really incredible. So yeah, I think very highly of her. I think that she totally is a true inspiration. And a gift for her profession.

Karen Litzy:                   30:12                Sounds that way to me. That’s for sure. And it also sounds that, you know, from the patient’s standpoint, and I think this is so important, it’s something that we hear so much about is that through education she was able to empower you to take control of your own health. You were partners in your care versus her just telling you what to do. And you did it without knowing why or what behind it. And, like you said, really inspired you to reach for more. And if every physical therapist can do that with every patient, then I think that would be such a boon to the profession.

Colleen Rapp:               30:52                Oh, definitely. It would, it would kind of, yeah. I mean, you guys, you guys are really important and you guys change lives, but you know, it’s hard because not everybody’s accessible to that. So, but in this story, I was and it’s changed me. I’ve lost like I think, tell me what, like 35-40 pounds and I exercise like, yeah, like three or four times a week. And I’m just overall a better person. And, it’s just a wonderful thing. I’m very, and as, you know, it’s in me now and it’s not just physical therapy. It’s life. It brought life back in me. I can say it that way.

Tami Struessel:             31:44                You already said, well, you know, I was hiking today and, you know, I mean we’re fortunate enough to live in one of the most beautiful places on earth. Colleen has taken full advantage of that. You know, I think there was a time where she would come home from work and was tired and he wouldn’t do a whole lot. And now she’s really, she’s really a drank the Koolaid of being an active person. I think she exercises, but she’s also just a more active person in general and thinks about activity and exercise differently. And, she embraces that and embraces making some lifestyle changes that has made all the difference.

Karen Litzy:                   32:36                And you know, before we kind of wrap up here, I just have one more question for each of you. They’re going to be slightly different, but Colleen, I’ll start with you and you’ve kind of, I think might’ve already answered this question sort of throughout, but as a patient, how has physical therapy changed your life? And part two of that, what advice would you give to someone who’s on the fence about physical therapy?

Colleen Rapp:               33:10                I think physical therapy changed my life because I’ve learned that the most important thing is mobility and stability and so movement. I was always thought that to be a strong person, I had to go out and, you know, get a trainer and do 50 pushups and 30 squats and walk home, couldn’t breathe, you know, and what I learned through physical therapy is that the exercises that you get are, are really important to learn how to balance. The simplest things can impact you in a certain way. And the other thing is that I had to embrace it because if I embraced it and learned how to do the things Tami taught me, not on any of the exercises, but if my leg hurt and how to take my leg, or I said, or something I could achieve to be better and to stay better and not be a person that was going to a year from now say, oh my shoulder still hurts or my back still hurts.

Colleen Rapp:               34:20                And that’s what I worked every day for is finally instead of, you know, I finally found something that like physical therapy that just had an impact to me. And it’s very important and it’s very important if you do those things, you’ll be successful. And that’s the way I believe. I think that to tell somebody is to give it a chance. Because I work with so many people that don’t, they automatically say, I want to have surgery, I don’t want to go to physical therapy. And, I think you get into that stuff where they just assume that it’s a waste of time. But I think if you would just give it a chance and just see and, and give it, you know, give it a try and listen, I think you’ll learn that it’s gonna Change Your Life. Like it did mine.

Karen Litzy:                   35:11                Incredible. And Tami, this is a question that I ask a lot of my physical therapy colleagues that come on the program and that’s given what you know now where you are in your life and your career, what advice would you give to yourself as a new Grad right out of PT School?

Tami Struessel:             35:38                Wow. That seems like a long time ago. You know what I think, it might be similar and actually I give this advice to my new grads that I teach. And that is that first of all that your first job or two is so formative and so select wisely, you know, look for places where you have a sense that the culture is good, that there is a lifelong learning mindset. I want to be sure that my patients that have come to see me, if I’m on vacation for a week, then they can go to somebody else and I know that they’re going to get really good care. And then just that lifelong learning for yourself. You know, if you get stagnant and, you know, kind of bored, maybe you need to kind of figure out what you might be able to do to kind of spark that again.

Tami Struessel:             36:45                There was a time where I decided that I wanted to pursue teaching and I really sought out that opportunity and that’s been extremely enriching for me as well. So I’m really fortunate there, but I also don’t want to, you know, teach and not treat patients. As long as my body can hold up. I want to, I want to keep doing that because it gives me all kinds of great stories for a class. And it’s also fun. I think I was born to be a physical therapist, so, I know I made the right choice a long time ago and it still is really a terrific profession.

Karen Litzy:                   37:32                Amazing. And Colleen, can you tell us a little bit more about your student scholarship fund and what you have coming up?

Colleen Rapp:                                       Well, Tami changed my life so much that I wanted to do something in return. And so I found out this scholarship fund at her school didn’t get a lot of funding, so I worked like a year and sold, sports memorabilia and I basically sold concert tickets and all kinds of stuff and I put all the proceeds for a year to the fund. And so the year was up and I kind of wanted to do something. I was like, well, this was really good. I want to do something like really crazy fun, you know, go out with, you know, happy, you know. So I decided to arrange a concert on September 5th, and it’s going to have a pretty good artist in Denver. Her name is Hazel Miller and all the proceeds will go to the scholarship fund. They will be donated. So I’m kind of excited about it.

Karen Litzy:                   38:37                That’s incredible. And what a great way to kind of pay it forward. And then just to be clear, this is a scholarship fund at the University of Colorado.

Tami Struessel:             38:48                The doctor physical therapy, specific student scholarship fund.

Karen Litzy:                   38:54                Awesome. Well, I mean, Colleen, what a great way to give back to the profession and to the future of the profession. So, and I’m sure those at the University of Colorado are very thankful for all of your help and enthusiasm in getting the word out about physical therapy. I know. I am. So Colleen, thank you for coming on and sharing your story. And Tami, thank you for coming on and sharing your story. In the way that you’ve worked with Colleen, and I think that you’re giving a lot of therapists, especially newer grads or students, a nice glimpse into really how we can move beyond just take an injury and rehab it to take an injury and change a lifestyle.

Tami Struessel:             39:42                Yeah. Thank you so much, Karen. That’s what I’m practicing at the top of your license, as you said before, you know that’s where you can really feel good every day about inspiring people and getting people to make lifestyle changes, like Colleen made, so that they can be a better, stronger, more resilient person. That’s what it’s all about.

Karen Litzy:                   40:08                Amazing. Well, thank you both ladies, for coming onto the podcast today and to everyone listening, thank you so much. Have a great couple of days and stay healthy, wealthy, and smart.

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©2019 Karen Litzy Physical Therapy PLLC.

©2019 Karen Litzy Physical Therapy PLLC.