by Sam Sentelle
Posted on January 9, 2018
Cindy Skiles with Teays Physical Therapy
Senior citizens active, ready to keep going
January 9, 2018
As founder and president of Teays Physical Therapy Center since 1990, Cindy Skiles is recognized as a resident practitioner and health educator in a growing service in the area. Physical therapy is expected to grow some 34 percent by 2024, Skiles told Putnam Rotarians during their weekly luncheon meeting today.
“We’re getting older,” she said. “Senior citizens are not ready to sit down. They’re ready to keep going. They’re active and they’re wanting to do more things. With therapy skills in demand. You can pretty much choose your location where you like to work.”
“Why become a physical therapist? You make a difference in people’s lives. You help them overcome a condition, or an injury, or an issue. You help make them healthier. You are a movement expert. Why do things hurt? Why do things not move right? What do you need to do about it? Most therapists love their job. You don’t see many getting out of the field going into something different,” she said.
The Teays Center includes 10,000 square feet of clinic space and 18,000 square feet of gym space. In 1996, a second site was opened in St. Albans.
Many of the clients need therapy for joint replacement and upper extremity problems. Physical therapy provides treatment to preserve and to enhance or to restore movement and function through exercise, special equipment, and education, she explained. A therapist starts with an examination to diagnose disorders and then plans treatment to promote wellness and fitness.
“We use therapeutic exercises.” she continued. “We use pain-relieving modalities such as ultrasound — for inflammation and swelling — electrical stimulation, assistive devices — braces, crutches, walkers — and a lot of education. Treatment is planned for goals: You want to run again. You want to play basketball. Interventions are how you get there.”
“Education is continuous. We read and we learn, tons of good books, good podcasts. My favorite is People’s Pharmacy on Saturday mornings from seven to eight. Look it up. They have free podcasts. They bring the best speakers across the country, the best doctors, the best resources.”
As the therapy demand has grown, Skiles has found herself as a community resource for consultations. — what to do, where to go, what to start on.
“I have people call: ‘What do you think about this?’ ‘Whom do you go to for that?’ I try to keep up with “available resources”. If I don’t know, I’ll try to find out.”
Physical therapy workplaces include a broad variety of settings from hospitals, rehabilitation centers, and nursing homes, to schools, sports facilities, and home health agencies. Then there are industrial or corporate health centers and research institutions in colleges and universities. Two-year therapy assistant programs are available at Mountwest Community & Technical College (Huntington) at Pierpont (Fairmont) and Blue Ridge (Martinsburg). Doctoral programs in physical therapy, usually requiring three years of study beyond the bachelor’s degree, now are available at Marshall, WVU, and Wheeling Jesuit Universities.
The Class of 2016 at WVU admitted 40 doctoral students out of 433 applicants. The average GPA was 3.65. Twelve students came from out-of-state, and 28 were from West Virginia.