ANN ARBOR – We interviewed Sarah Simon (PT, DPT, CIMT), the Clinic Director of West Arbor Probility Physical Therapy, to learn more about physical therapy and support our clients to achieve complete recovery. MOVE collaborates with Probility Physical Therapy to provide the MOVE Transition Program (MTP), a post-therapy fitness program for patients transitioning from formal therapy to a confident level of physical performance.
Introduce yourself. Where are you from? What is your background?
Hi! I grew up north of Ann Arbor and attended Whitmore Lake Schools. I enjoyed the small town feel and the benefits of being at a smaller school where I could compete in many sports and activities. My involvement in sports contributed to my interest in the human body and how to help it function at its peak performance. I did my undergraduate degree at Hope College in Holland, MI and earned my physical therapy degree at Grand Valley State University in Grand Rapids, MI.
What drives or inspires you?
My purpose in life is to make others’ lives better. I chose a healthcare profession because it makes me happy and I feel a sense of purpose serving others. As a physical therapist, I get to spend time with patients, listening to them, building relationships and helping them feel better physically.
As a PT and Certified Integrated Manual Therapist, you are obviously very knowledgeable about the human body. Is there anything about human bodies that has surprised, shocked, inspired, challenged you, etc.?
The human body is always surprising me. I’ve been a physical therapist for almost 10 years and while I have seen and treated a lot of issues, there is always more to learn. This profession is fun in the fact that every ache and pain is a puzzle, just waiting to be solved.
Age doesn’t determine your health. While a lot of aging is determined by genetics and luck, I have seen many hard-working people in their 80s and 90s who don’t look any older than 60. How you take care of yourself, how active you are, your diet and your attitude matter significantly for how you age.
You mention becoming a physical therapist to improve quality of life without surgery or medication and taking a holistic approach. What does a holistic approach look like? What can a patient expect in an appointment with you?
When a patient comes in to see me, or one of the physical therapists at my company, we will be looking at the whole system. We spend 1 on 1 time with you to really get to know you and to problem solve through what faulty movement patterns are contributing to your symptoms. For example, rarely does a shoulder injury consist of just a muscle strain or tear at the rotator cuff muscles. We look at the whole system, meaning that we assess how the shoulder joint and surrounding muscles function, how your scapula rotates, your posture, your neck and upper back region, etc.
For post-surgical patients, we make sure to follow the surgeon’s protocol to help you recover as quickly as possible and to restore normal movement, strength and function.
Do you have a specialty/favorite area of PT?
While I truly enjoy treating the variety of diagnoses I see, I am especially passionate about treating neck pain and headaches. People often live for years with pain in these regions, assuming that there isn’t much they can do because headaches are often caused by hormone imbalances. While we can’t change everything that causes headaches, physical therapists can change and improve many issues that contribute to headaches and neck pain. Some of the areas we focus on are neck joint mobility, posture, myofascial release of the neck and upper back, how you carry your stress and strength of the interscapular region.
Can you tell me a little bit about West Arbor’s Pelvic Health Program?
Pelvic Health Physical Therapy is an exciting, less known area of physical therapy. The pelvic floor is made up of muscles and joints, our area of expertise as physical therapists. Some of the most common diagnoses we see with this program are urinary and fecal incontinence/dysfunction, pelvic pain, postpartum diagnoses, and post-prostatectomy symptoms.
We usually start these sessions by discussing your history as well as educating you on how stress and dietary habits can impact the pelvic floor region. We also assess how the hips, legs and back function, as these regions place increased strain on the pelvic floor. Then, if appropriate, we can assess how the pelvic floor muscles function and may contribute to your symptoms. If you ever have more questions about what to expect or if this might be the right course of action for you, I would be happy to answer your questions.
What other programs do you have at the West Arbor clinic?
At our West Arbor clinic, we focus on both orthopedic diagnoses (joint pain, muscle pain, post surgical, etc) and pelvic health. In our company, we are excited to be growing with new programs to better serve the needs of our community. A few of our specialty programs include a sports performance program, pediatric program, dry needling, vestibular and balance program.
What is your favorite way to exercise/move your body? Why?
Running has always been a passion of mine; I ran cross country in both high school and college. Running gets me outside, regardless of the weather, and I love the stress and mental break as well as to feel the muscles and lungs burn on a hard run.
It’s my belief, however, that it doesn’t matter how you move, just keep moving. Find what motivates you to exercise and stick with it!
What is your favorite healthy snack?
I’m addicted to hummus. I prefer it with rosemary triscuits but fresh veggies are great as well. Have you had no-bake protein balls? They are fantastic. There are many varieties of recipes online but my favorite have peanut butter, oatmeal, dried cherries, a few dark chocolate chips, flax seed, and vanilla in them. Yum!
If you could give aspiring movement professionals – can be PT-specific or healthcare broadly – one piece of advice, what would that be?
You are important. Life gets busy and it’s easy to forget to take care of ourselves. I especially see this trait in moms. Teach your children how to take care of themselves by taking care of yourself. Make time to be healthier, even if it is something little, like trying to drink more water, going for a quick walk on your lunch break, or making time to do a workout class because you know you’ll feel better after you do it.
If you’ve had pain for years, but just haven’t had the chance to get to your doctor to do something about it, take action! Life is better without pain.
Quote that you’ve been pondering this week:
“Happiness is the joy we feel striving after our potential.” – Shawn Achor
To learn more about MOVE’s partnership with Probility Physical Therapy and how it can help your post-therapy fitness, visit https://www.movewellness.com/move-transition-program/.