Therapydia Lake Oswego physical therapist Kurt Gilbertson takes some time to talk about changing the perception of the recovery process, the power of instrumental music and his love of soccer.
“The under-appreciated side of wellness is the mental. Wellness needs to be fun and enjoyable because it is lifelong, and no person has enough motivation to constantly do something they don’t enjoy.”
When did you know that you wanted to be a physical therapist?
I was a 3-sport athlete in high school, most interested in soccer. My sophomore year, I had a serious injury and found physical therapy. I returned to soccer my junior year, had the same injury and lost all college recruiting. I thought to myself “I was diligent with PT, why did this happen again?” It was then that I found my passion of changing the norm of returning to sport/life training within PT to make sure my journey as a patient is not experienced by my own patients.
What is the biggest challenge involved in being a PT?
I think the main challenge within PT is that we live in a world of instant gratification but the PT world is forced to live in delayed gratification. In the sense that Amazon can deliver a TV to your doorstep in 2 days (sometimes same day!) and you’re watching the Timbers that day, but it takes 4-6 weeks for injuries to heal, and then longer to return to your sport/activity of choice! You can’t change how the body heals but you can change the perception of that recovery process, which makes PT such a rewarding job.
How do you like to stay active?
I am quietly very competitive, so my activity tends to revolve around sports (I am actively seeking pick-up soccer/baseball/basketball/football/ultimate games!) However, I have picked up yoga which I love doing with my wife, Lindsay. We walk our pup Bennett twice daily and we are excited to explore the beautiful hiking in the PNW. And soon enough, I’ll get back into the gym.
What’s your favorite song to get you motivated?
I am always influenced by emotional instrumentals, similar to those in movies. “The Mighty Rio Grande” by This Will Destroy You always kicks me into gear.
What surprised you the most about the physical therapy profession?
How unknown we are to most people. The amount of times I’ve heard, “I wish I found you years ago,” breaks my heart.
Are you currently pursuing any further education/certifications?
I just sat for the Orthopedic Specialist (OCS) Exam in March 2018. I am scheduled to sit for the CSCS exam this Summer. I am fascinated by the developmental work of Dynamic Neuromuscular Stabilization (DNS), the role of breathing in Postural Restoration (PRI), and the role of connective tissue chains in Structural Integration (ATSI) of which I plan to take some courses of each this coming year.
What do you wish everyone knew about PT?
That PT is a process and that process does not end when pain is no longer there. Pain is a gift that alerts you when something is wrong, but just because you turn off the alarm doesn’t mean you shouldn’t still take care of the reason why it went off. I’d also like to add that PT is more than stretching. I like to say, stretching gets you out of pain, strengthening keeps the pain away.
What’s your go-to breakfast?
You can’t go wrong with eggs, bacon and hash browns!
What is the most important personality trait that a PT must have?
Empathy, active listening, and expert questioning. You said three traits right? 🙂 But really, we collaborate with genuine people who more often than not have suffered for years, seen way too many doctors and know more about medicine than they ever should. It requires empathetic compassion to connect, the ability to hear the subtle cues of motivational factors to understand, and the ability to have laser questioning to find the root issue. “A smart person gives smart answers, a genius asks great questions.”
What do you do to de-stress and unwind?
Playing and watching soccer, walking with Lindsay and Bennett, building furniture and listening to music are typical de-stressors for me.
Finish this sentence: On Saturday mornings, you can usually find me…”
Half asleep at 4:30am watching Liverpool games and then sitting with Lindsay on the porch drinking coffee.
What is the best piece of wellness advice you’ve ever received?
The under-appreciated side of wellness is the mental. Wellness needs to be fun and enjoyable because it is lifelong, and no person has enough motivation to constantly do something they don’t enjoy. Exercise, prayer, reading, writing, cooking are all forms of wellness if it improves your perspective on life.
Learn more about Kurt and the other PTs at Therapydia Lake Oswego here