Built Like a Brick House – Cybex II Almost Four Decades Old and Still Performing Like New
An Interview with Dave Witter, Physical Therapy Assistant at Memorial Lighthouse Physical Therapy
Can you tell me a little bit about your professional background and experience?
I am a Physical Therapist Assistant here at Memorial Lighthouse. I have been doing this for five years now; I was kind of late to it. I was in carpentry for a long time and decided I needed a career change. That’s when I got into physical therapy.
What piqued your interest about physical therapy? How does one go from being a carpenter to being a Physical Therapy Assistant?
Well, I have been through physical therapy myself. I had major knee surgery and rehab got me back to work. So I saw first-hand how effective treatment had been for me. I enjoy to exercise and am a firm believer that exercise can cure a lot of what ails people, myself included. So when the economy took a turn, I decided it was time for a career change. A career in physical therapy seemed like a really good fit for me.
What's your favorite thing about your job?
I really enjoy working with people. And I enjoy seeing people realize the benefits of physical therapy and get better because of it.
How is Memorial Lighthouse different from other physical therapy practices?
We customize every rehab program to a patient's individual needs. Many of the patients who come through our doors get on the Cybex. For example, if we have an ACL patient we will customize their rehab to get them back to a point where they're appropriate to return to their sport. And every sport is different. We are a small clinic so this allows a lot of one-on-one attention to every patient that you just can’t get at larger clinics. I have a tremendous amount of respect for the therapists that I work with. And between them and myself, I think we do an excellent job of customizing and adapting rehab programs here based on the individual needs of the patient.
How long have you been using the Cybex?
I’ve been using it for five years. But is has been at this clinic since it opened in 2005 and prior to that is was at the other Memorial outpatient clinic.
Where does it fit into your practice?
We use it for a ton of rehab. Generally, it's going to be used on our post-operative patients. We'll use it for testing them, but also for the industrial-type patients we see. We may use it to rehab them to build strength or coordination. It's so versatile you can really set it up hundreds of different ways, for pushing, pulling, or unilateral pushing. We do a lot of pre-employment screenings for multiple companies and use the Cybex isokinetic machine. They use the data we gain from knee flexion extension and shoulder flexion extension to determine whether or not someone can perform the necessary functions a particular job requires. Or if someone has to do a lot of repetitive motion in their job, we can set it up to mimic that particular motion. Then have them strengthen that motion on the Cybex if need be. It also gets used a lot for rehab. For our post-operative athletes, we use it to determine strength and whether they are strong enough to run again or return to sport. Doctors in the area know we have it. They typically like to see isokinetic testing of 80% on the unaffected side for ACL patients before they can return to sport. So, a lot of them use it as part of their post-operative protocol.
Can you tell me a little about the biggest benefit you’ve gotten from the machine?
The biggest benefit is information - very objective information. It is thorough, detailed, and objective regarding a patient’s strength. And that's worthwhile for them. Especially an athlete who plays basketball or football that you're trying to return to play. You can use the data to objectively see if they are ready or not. And why they are ready or not. And if they are ready, the likelihood of injury is very low because of what the data shows. It is also so versatile with all of the different adaptations, parts, and components that you can mount to it. That is definitely an advantage. There's a lot that can be done with one machine. Versus certain pulleys or other exercise equipment that can only do one thing and doesn’t provide the objective data the Cybex does.
Are there any trends you are seeing in isokinetics or your field in general?
I’m seeing more pre-employment testing for companies. And more protocols post-operatively. More doctors are calling for isokinetic testing before the patient returns to full activity.
Is there anything else you would like readers to know?
I love what I do and I’m glad I made this career choice. I'm glad I work in a clinic that has such a valuable piece of equipment. I am the primary user of the machine and I think it’s interesting and fun to see the different strength curves and all of the data. When I was in college we learned about the different types of exercise. We spent a lot of time covering isometric exercise and isotonic exercise. Isokinetic was just this thing that was mentioned and glossed over. And then we were told by the teacher, "You'll probably never have to deal with isokinetics." The irony is that I deal with it quite a bit. Unfortunately, so many people in my field don’t fully understand the incredible value of an isokinetic machine and the data it provides. I am very glad that I work for a clinic that does.