January 26, 2020

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A Personal Account On Vaping -

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Running into the 2019 season -

Tuesday, October 15, 2019

Career Conversations: Michael Chin

Michael Chin is a physical therapist at Apex Physical Therapy, where he works with orthopaedic and sports injuries. A Bay Area native, he received his Doctorate of Physical Therapy from New York University and his B.S. from UC Davis, where he was captain of the tennis team.

Michael Chin is a physical therapist at Apex Physical Therapy, where he works with orthopaedic and sports injuries. A Bay Area native, he received his Doctorate of Physical Therapy from New York University and his B.S. from UC Davis, where he was captain of the tennis team.

What do you do as a physical therapist?Physical Therapy by the Numbers

I work in a sports orthopaedic center, so I work mainly with muscles, bones and joints. I see injuries as small as ankle sprains up to things like post-op knee replacements. I work on injuries through manual therapy or therapeutic exercise.

What is manual therapy?

Manual therapy is anything I can do with my hands to help with pain or mobility. For example, if the knee isn’t moving very well, I can do a mobilization of the knee or kneecap.

What is the therapeutic exercise component?

We design a sort of “exercise progression” with all sorts of steps. Say, for example, a patient tore their ACL. I wouldn’t start by asking them to jump on one leg. I would put them on a machine to exercise with less-than-body-weight strain, to build them up slowly and allow the tissue to adapt and heal.

What types of patients do you see, and for how long?

Our patients range in age from eight to 96, so it can really be anyone. We see them for as short as a few weeks, or as long as a year if they are recovering from a major surgery.

How do your patients find you?

There is something called Direct Access, meaning anyone can see a physical therapist without going to the doctor. Probably 75 percent of our patients come from doctors.What sparked your interest in physical therapy?

Likely my own injuries. When I was 15, I got a shoulder injury playing tennis and went to physical therapy. And then playing sports in college, I spent plenty of time in the training room with injuries and getting rehab. I always knew I liked the human body and science, but it was really the atmosphere. And I saw the benefits of therapy firsthand. I’m also a people person, so I wanted to work with people.

Does being an athlete help in physical therapy?

I think so, because athletes need to be more aware of their bodies and how they move. But it definitely isn’t required.

When did you start working in physical therapy?

As an undergraduate, I did several internships in different places like hospitals and outpatient settings. And from then on, I pretty much knew that this was what I wanted to do.

What is the best part about your job so far?

Seeing people appreciate it when you help them in some way or another. Seeing them get back to things they love to do. Because you know, what it comes down to regardless of where you work as a therapist is improving your patients’ functions. Being able to impact their lives, I really enjoy that.

What is the most challenging part about your job?

As much as I like helping my patients, working with people can be tough too because everyone comes in with a different issue regarding their bodies. And there’s a lot of emotion tied to that, there’s a psychological component to it all. Imagine what you love to do, what you’ve done your entire life, and now imagine not being able to do that anymore.

What skills and qualities are essential for your career?

You must be comfortable around people. You don’t have to be really outgoing, but you need to be able to speak in front of people and have good communication skills. You also need leadership skills, because you need to show that you can lead your patients through the whole treatment. And any job requires critical thinking. You might see ten knees in a row, but they will all be treated differently. You need to be on your toes, and it’s always different.

Do you have any advice for high school students?

Keep your life diverse. Be involved in and getting exposure to different activities are very important because it builds up your personality and the more you have, the more you’ll be able to relate with people down the road. School is school, but don’t be too one-dimensional in that path.

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