Date: May 31, 2013
Place: Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, Bethesda, MD
Interview: Janette Scardillo, Lieutenant Mike Marmolejo, and Barri Schnall, Physical Therapists
Meet physical therapists from Walter Reed National Military Medical Center. They talk about their jobs and working with patients.
Lieutenant Mike Marmolejo, Physical Therapist:
If you find, you know, you love the sciences and you love sports, physical therapy is a great combination of both.
What’s your day like?
Janette Scardillo, Physical Therapist:
In the beginning of the day, we come in, get our patient lists and go throughout the hospital and we see a large variety of patients and do anything from getting them walking again, getting them in and out of bed, getting them into a chair, doing exercises with them. We want to have the patient be as functional as possible before they go home.
Mike: A typical day in the office for me is actually really fun. I don’t have to sit at a computer all day. I actually get to work with my patients, almost doing, like, fitness with them, just to get them better. I have the honor and the privilege of working with these wounded warriors and they come in with different injuries. A lot of them come in with amputations to their legs or to their arms. So my job is to help them learn how to walk again; learn how to do activities that they used to do on a normal daily basis that they can’t do right now. For example, walking or running.
So to challenge their balance a little bit, we put them on foam pads and have them walk on uneven surfaces. And that’s just gonna help them walk better on a harder surface.
Army Master Sergeant Cedric King, Patient:
I can see, but I can’t feel. So now that’s kinda like the trade off I have now. I can see it, but it does me no good because I can’t really feel, I can’t make those adjustments.
Mike: And then the last exercise we did was a seated balance football toss. It’s for them to get again, a core workout, working on their abdominal strength, but it’s also to add some fun.
What is GAIT?
Barri Schnall, Physical Therapist:
GAIT is basically your walking pattern. What we do here primarily is evaluate people’s walking patterns. We have a 27-camera system that sees reflective markers. The reflective markers are placed essentially from head to toe on the patient. What that does is it creates a stick figure on our computer monitor. That gives us our raw data.
We review the data with the patient and the information we get is all about the time distance aspects of their walking. So how fast they walk, how wide apart their feet are, how long their steps are.
What is CAREN?
Some people have likened it to a Wii on steroids. It’s a virtual environment, where the patient can either drive a scene, meaning, or interact with a scene. The problem is we make it difficult. We can add waves and motion to the platform. So it makes it challenging on your balance and it’s really kind of a fun way to get to do your rehab [rebuild to a healthy state].
Advice for kids
Mike: I’d like to say I have the best job in the world, to be honest with you. To come in everyday and play and to see the smiles on these guys faces. To see where they started and to see where they end up, it’s just so exciting.