NELLIS AIR FORCE BASE, Nev. â€“ Every break, bump or bruise has one thing in common: they take time and work to heal. The medics at the Mike O’Callaghan Federal Medical Center Physical Therapy section know this better than most.
“Our job is getting people, as soon as possible, back to duty in a safe manner,” said Capt. Leticia Venegas, 99th Medical Operations Squadron Physical Therapy element chief.
The clinic rehabilitates personnel who have been injured or undergone surgery.
The healing process can be a frustrating one for the patient, especially when it comes to musculoskeletal injuries.
“Musculoskeletal injuries are a huge part of what we see,” Venegas said. “A lot of the injuries we observe here are a result of overuse – overtraining. Not everybody’s built the same way. So, injuries will occur. Accidents will occur. People fall, trip, twist their legs and that’s when we get these individuals.”
While a large majority of the section’s patients come from overuse injuries, the section also sees many deployment-related injuries.
“Being in a foreign environment on different terrain and different surfaces puts Airmen at a high risk for developing ankle injuries, ankle sprains or knee injuries,” Venegas said.
Unlike civilian physical therapists, the section tries not to focus merely on the injuries, but the entire individual, she said.
“We do a lot of prevention,” Venegas said. “A lot of times when a patient comes to see us for an injury, in the process of evaluating that individual, we uncover other underlying conditions that the patient has been neglecting. As an Airman, it’s not just an injury or a body part, it’s the whole individual “â€ and I think that’s what separates us from just any civilian physical therapy.”
Not only does the clinic view the individual as a whole, they see Airmen as invaluable assets to the Air Force’s mission.
“One of the benefits of us being part of the Air Force is we understand the mission of the Air Force,” the captain said. “We, more than anybody else, understand the needs and the nature of the job that all of the active duty members perform.”