Growing up in Alabama created in me a natural love for the game of football. Unlike many others, however, I was blessed with the talent to earn a scholarship to play football for Wake Forest University – an opportunity which would allow me not only to compete against high caliber athletes, but also to study at an elite academic institution. The quality of the education offered at Wake was very important to me, because I knew I wanted to pursue a career in the very competitive field of health care. While I had originally planned to attend medical school, the events of my first two years playing college football redirected my course.
During my first year playing football at Wake, I suffered a herniated disc in my lumbar spine as a result of a weight-lifting accident – an injury which would turn out to be a blessing in disguise. I began physical therapy in an attempt to avoid surgery. Over the course of the following six months, I saw great progress; however, I was not quite in the condition to return to playing football. Being away from football was very hard for me, so I elected to have a microdiscectomy operation in hopes of returning to the football field at full health. With the help of an excellent physical therapist, I was able to return to the football field a few months after the surgery. I returned to the field only to herniate another disc. Following my second microdiscectomy, I decided to end my football career for the sake of my back. With the help of my physical therapist, I have reached the point where the condition of my back does not decrease my quality of life or inhibit me from participating in any activities I enjoy, such as exercise. After feeling such great impact of a physical therapist on my life, I knew that I wanted the opportunity to I knew that I wanted to affect the lives of others in a similar way.
When I began thinking of pursuing a career in physical therapy, I naturally had a bias towards sports-related injuries. Much to my surprise, this bias was broken during my observation a Rehab Associates L.L.C. this summer. During my time at this clinic, athletes were a very small minority among the patients. I worked with several elderly patients, work-related injury patients, and even an individual with brain damage suffered from an automobile accident. It brought me joy to see the difference being made in the quality of the lives of the patients. I learned that it wasn’t important to me that I help people return to playing a sport, but rather that I help them return to doing what they love – whatever it may be.
Throughout my life and especially my football career, I have suffered numerous injuries – from the disc herniations, to screws in the second metacarpal of my right hand, as well as other broken bones and torn ligaments. As a result of these injuries, I worked with several physical therapists, some of which were more helpful than others. I have experienced firsthand how helpful a physical therapist can be – valuing not only quantitative progress in the patient’s physical functionality, but also the quality of life that the patient is experiencing. While no one enjoys being injured, my injuries served as a window into a field for which I have great appreciation – playing a vital role in my decision to pursue a career in physical therapy over other health care careers.
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