Dr. Jo: Accessible Physical Therapy

IMG_0703 (1)I met Dr. Jo a few years ago when invited by my friend, her sister, to dinner. I knew I was in the presence of a super smart family before the appetizers were served. At the time, she was enjoying her career as a physical therapist. She is still loving that career while working at a private university in their Sports Medicine Department! But now she has found a way to give almost everyone access to physical therapy with her website Ask Dr. Jo. I checked out the website as soon as I heard about it and was happy to find exercises there that applied to me! I’m not sure I want to reveal just how many…. but I’ve never really thought about doing exercises, for example, to help with Carpal Tunnel Syndrome. The easy-to-use design of her website helps gives you an explanation of what might cause your particular pain and a description of helpful exercises in both written and video formats.  I started doing exercises right away, and as soon as I finished, I contacted Dr. Jo to see if we could host her on Nerdy Chicks Rule. She said yes! 🙂 Now, let’s get to know her better… 

1. Thanks for joining us today, Dr. Jo! In 2012 you took your knowledge as a physical therapist online to help people. Ask Doctor Jo is now approaching a million hits! What does your site offer visitors?  

My website, which my super talented brother helped me create (he also does all the filming and editing), is designed to show correct techniques for physical therapy exercises and stretches through engaging how-to videos.  It is meant to be fun, educational, and simple without overwhelming people. 

The reason I started this website was to continue to help people as much as I can. More and more often, health care professionals, especially in the therapy field, are getting road blocked by insurance caps, limited visits, and very high co-pays for patients. Sometimes there is just not enough time to give all the instruction a patient truly needs. This website is not designed to make people stop going to their doctor or therapist. It’s just to help along the way. Nothing beats a professional PT instructing you in person where they can make sure you are doing things correctly.

2.       I love the concept and it is great to see a site like yours do so well so quickly! What is your vision for the future of Ask Doctor Jo

I am still waiting on a call from Dr. Oz or Ellen to show the world what physical therapy is really about, and that it is not just gimmicky things like ultrasound or a miracle gel that fixes everything. I am also expecting to have billions of views surpassing Justin Bieber, Jenna Marbles, and even Kid President, and being known as the most viewed YouTube sensation ever.  But seriously, I really just hope to continue to help people who might not otherwise be able to get the proper care they need because of the barriers mentioned above.

3.       I think you’ll be helping people for a long time in the future. Now let’s talk about your past influences. Your experience as a college athlete influenced your decision to pursue a career in physical therapy. What do you see as other advantages sports offer girls?  

Sports not only taught me to be a stronger person physically and mentally, but it also taught me you can accomplish great things with teamwork.  In life, you have to work and deal with people you might not be friends with, and unfortunately people you don’t like.  This is the very same lesson you learn in sports.  Teammates might not like each other, but they have to work together to win the game.  It is a great life lesson to learn at an early age.

Sports also teach you to be mentally strong.  You might not win every game, but you learn from it and play better next time.  It also taught me great time management, especially in high school and college.  Sometimes school itself can stress you out, but adding in practices and traveling…and more practices on top of that, really makes you have to use your time wisely.

With all that said, I think sports offer girls an outlet to be tough, strong, and hold her head up with pride.  It allows her a way to sweat, bleed, and get dirty.  Then step off the field, get cleaned up, and be a beautiful and proud strong woman!

4.       What advice would you give someone looking for a career in physical therapy?  

You have to have patience, and you have to be a social person.  Physical therapy can be confusing and scary for a patient, especially if they are hurting.  I have rarely had a patient able to do an exercise or stretch correctly the first time, even athletes.  Sometimes you might have to demonstrate several times and actually put patients in certain positions before they get it right. Sometimes they don’t ever get it right, and you have to be able to modify it for them. It’s not because they are being difficult, it’s because they are hurting or they just don’t understand.  If you get frustrated easily, this is not the career for you.

You also have to be able to keep a conversation going.  Many times, a patient is hurting so badly that they can only think about the pain.  If you can distract them with conversation, it not only takes their mind off the pain, but it also builds a connection with the patient that makes them feel comfortable with you and trust you.

Anyone considering a career in physical therapy should observe some physical therapists in several different settings including a hospital, a skilled nursing facility, and an outpatient clinic.  I think many people believe that physical therapists only work with athletes and everything is exciting and high level.  That is just not the case, so it is very important to see how each setting works.

In the end, it is one of the most rewarding jobs you can possibly have.  There is no greater feeling than seeing someone go from not being able to walk or perform everyday activities to them walking out of your clinic pain free after the last visit.

5.       I’m imagining that your patients who walk out pain free have an even greater feeling! On a more personal note, what’s something you like to do that might be considered nerdy, but is actually really fun?  

OMG!  I think Nerdy might be my middle name! I actually really enjoy going to physical therapy conferences and taking quizzes.  On my iPhone, I have a Board Exam prep app.  It asks physical therapy type questions to get you prepped to take your license exam.  It sounds really nerdy, but I think it keeps me sharp and up-to-date on the newest stuff out there in the PT world.  I really want to teach one day, so I feel like I need to stay sharp.  And it really is fun to see how much you remember!

I think a lot of our followers can relate to your enjoyment of conferences! Thank you so much for sharing your knowledge here on Nerdy Chicks Rule.

To find out more about Dr. Jo, or to try out some of her exercises, check out her website HERE or her YouTube channel HERE. She is currently running a contest to celebrate her millionth visitor, so you could even win a fifty dollar Amazon gift card!

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“It is pretty fun being silly and goofy, and helping people along the way!” — Dr. Jo