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Each day I am able to wake up, get dressed, and make my own breakfast.

I can then drive to school,


work, or go other places that I need to. After completing my clinical observation hours at Stewart
Rehabilitation, I was reminded that there are so many people who are not as fortunate. I was made
aware, that I take for granted the level of function and capability that I have. I was able to meet patients
who had functional limitations that left them unable to lift a cup to get a drink or even walk up four
stairs independently. During my clinical observation I was able to observe the physical therapist as he
helped restore function to patients lives. This experience left me grateful for the function that I have. It
also instilled in me a great desire to help individuals overcome their functional limitations.
During my observation I was able to meet an individual with a rare genetic disorder called glutaric
acidemia type 2. This disease interferes with the bodys ability to break down fats and proteins to be
used as energy. The disease had left this individual wheelchair bound. His upper body also had to be
harnessed in tightly just to keep him upright in his wheelchair. The most mobility and strength that he
displayed were in the movements of his head. When I saw this individual come into the clinic, I
wondered what a physical therapist could possibly do for this individual. What I saw was an amazing
display of what a physical therapist can do to remove barriers. I was in awe as I saw the physical
therapist use the mobility this patient had with his neck to allow someone with such great disability to
gain more independence.
The physical therapist had determined, in an earlier treatment session with this individual, that a
specialized wheelchair could allow him to be more independent. The wheelchair was equipped with
special pressure sensors that would allow him to use movement of his head to propel the wheelchair in
the desired direction. The physical therapist explained to this individual what he needed to do to get the
wheelchair to move where he wanted. I was able to tell that he was excited to try the new chair due to
the tone that his already rigid muscles started to display. After being transferred to the new wheelchair,

he immediately began to drive the wheelchair. It was amazing to be able to watch as this individual used
his head to press against these pressure sensors to maneuver the chair through multiple turns down the
hallway. At times he came close to bumping into the walls as he made the turns. I wanted to be able to
take hold of the controls and safely maneuver the chair through these difficult turns for him. His mother
later remarked that this was the furthest he had even been able to move on his own volition in his entire
life. Watching this amazing feat I knew that this is something that I want to be a part of as a career.
I was later able to watch the physical therapist work with a woman who had been experiencing trouble
with balance during gait and standing. As she took short shuffling steps back to the gym, she took a mint
from her pocket and put it to the mouth of the physical therapist. He didnt understand what she was
doing until he saw the mint, and warily let her put it in his mouth. I had no idea that it would next be my
turn until she reached inside her pocket again and pulled out another mint. I followed suit and let her
put the mint in my mouth. We worked on some balance activities with her that emphasized taking larger
steps instead of the short shuffling ones she had been taking. I was able to realize as I watched how this
intervention would help her ambulate with more safety. We finished the session with her, and with a
smile she expressed gratitude for how good we had been to her. I had been trying to guess what her
diagnosis was during the entire session. I was taken back by the physical therapists response when I
asked if she had been diagnosed with a form of Parkinsons disease. He emphatically told me that he
does not treat the diagnosis, but he treats the impairments. He said that she may have a form of
Parkinsons disease, but what is more important is treating the impairments that she presented with to
give her a better quality of life.
I had felt the entire time we worked with her if I could recognize the disorder that this woman had I
would impress the physical therapist. When he talked about treating impairments instead of a specific
diagnosis, I felt that I had missed the bigger picture. The physical therapist then explained that knowing
the diagnosis can sometimes be very important in treating an individual, but that it was more important

to be able recognize the impairments the disorder presented the patient with. He explained that he had
treated neurologic conditions that were so rare that it was hard to find literature on how best to treat
the patient. He then quizzed me on what some of the functional limitation this patient might have due
to the specific impairments she presented with. We then discussed possible interventions for the
specific impairments that she presented with. During the discussion I wanted to be able to recognize the
impairments and the consequences that they might have on this womans life. I was able to identify
some such as balance and overall coordination, but the physical therapist was able to make a much
larger list than I could. This physical therapist had developed a skill I that I hope to obtain for identifying
a patient needs in order to help them.
I have always wanted to be a part of a profession that I feel truly makes a difference for other people.
These narratives were only some of the many I was able to see during my clinical observation that
helped me realized how fulfilling a career as a physical therapy assistant would be. I feel that a career as
physical therapy assistant I would give me the chance to gain the skills necessary to help people make
positive changes. These changes will allow them to follow their own dreams and aspirations.