What it means to be a DPT

Since high school, I knew I wanted to be a physical therapist because I wanted to help people and give them their lives back. Six years into the profession, I have come to realize what that truly means. As a Doctor of Physical Therapy, I have seen first hand how pain and perception of pain can affect people’s lives from children to the elderly. I once saw a nine year old for an ankle sprain who drew me a picture with the quote, “Thank you - I never thought I’d walk again.” Physical therapy is not just banded biceps curls or soft tissue mobilization; it is about connecting and educating with each individual I evaluate.

I have seen how our encouragement and education on musculoskeletal conditions, strength training, and mobility can significantly improve a patient’s overall lifestyle; plenty of times previously inactive patients are now encouraged to set new wellness and fitness goals because they feel encouraged and motivated to do so. In today’s social media world, everyone can search “three best exercises for back pain” or “quick fix for headaches,” but we only get one body and it deserves great maintenance. My profession provides incredible value to my life because I am able to assist people in that journey- encouraging them they are not “broken” or “incapable.” Doctors of Physical Therapy create long term solutions and tools to combat their complaints and put the onus back on them versus creating a dependency on us. This is not to be taken lightly as we hold great influence on our patients’ lives in their return back to full function from daily activities to work and sports.

- Nicole Melfi PT, DPT, SCS, ATC, CSCS

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