EXCHANGE: Therapist teaches 5½-year-old to climb stairs


“The ball is scary,” pediatric physical therapist Jillian McGriff said as she sat Hunter Trefzger, 5½, on an exercise ball.

She steadied him as he reached, one by one, to grab rings held out by his mother, Sarah, and then tossed them one at a time toward a ring stand.

“This is easy,” Hunter said, surprising McGriff.

“Thank you for being brave,” she responded.

“This is my favorite thing now,” Hunter said.

Hunter’s “favorite thing” is a challenge for any child, let alone one with dwarfism.

Hunter, of Bloomington, is a little person. For Hunter, that means he’s 36 inches tall, his arms and legs are short (he has a 10-inch inseam), his center of gravity is lower, he’s not physically proportionate and his speech is slightly impaired.

Thanks to therapy, his mother and his therapist at Marcfirst in Normal — where he was receiving physical therapy on March 20 — think he will be ready for kindergarten in August.

That almost didn’t happen. He was without therapy for six months after Easterseals Central Illinois cut ongoing physical, occupational and speech therapy for children on Medicaid and Medicaid managed care because of increasing state mandates and low Medicaid reimbursement; about 100 children lost services.

“I wasn’t necessarily mad at Easterseals,” Sarah Trefzger said. “I was mad at the state of Illinois. How could people leading the state of Illinois let it get so bad? How could the state let it get so bad for people who are fragile?”

Trefzger doesn’t care which politicians are at fault. She cares that her son and others on Medicaid and medically fragile are among those paying the price.

Hunter resumed physical therapy in February at Marcfirst’s SPICE (Services for Parent Infant and Child Education) program. But he’s on a waiting list to resume occupational and speech therapy.

“It’s not just about Hunter,” Trefzger said. “It’s also about the hundreds of other kids being affected because they need services and aren’t getting them.”

Marcfirst’s SPICE program has added 60 to 65 children for therapy services (bringing the caseload of children receiving ongoing services up to 212) and hired two physical therapists (including McGriff), a feeding therapist, three speech pathologists and a licensed clinical social worker, in part because of the cut at Easterseals, said Marcfirst CEO Laura Furlong and SPICE Director Christy Kosharek. Some of the therapists are full time, some are part time, and some, like McGriff, had been with Easterseals, Furlong said.

The other children may be getting therapy elsewhere or may be going without services for the time being.

“We have about 50 kids now waiting for services and about half had been receiving services at Easterseals,” Kosharek said.

“We want all children to receive services, regardless of the family’s ability to pay,” Kosharek said. “We are pleased to provide services but it’s placing a financial strain on us.”

Hunter was born on Nov. 3, 2011, with achondroplasia — the most common form of dwarfism — a genetic condition that results in disproportionately short arms and legs.

He has had 40 surgeries. A major one, when he was 5 months old, was a tracheostomy — a tube inserted into his windpipe to open the restricted airway and enable breathing.

When he was a year old, he had spinal decompression surgery so he wouldn’t be paralyzed from the neck down. At 3½, he had surgery to pull his tongue forward so it wouldn’t block his airway while he was sleeping.

“That allowed them to remove the trach,” his mother said.

When he began physical, occupational, speech/feeding and developmental therapy at the Easterseals Bloomington center, 2404 E. Empire St., Bloomington, at 9 months of age, “he needed 100 percent support,” his mother said. “He couldn’t sit up. He couldn’t roll. He couldn’t hold his head up.”

“He couldn’t control his own body,” said McGriff, who has been Hunter’s physical therapist since then. “We worked with him to hold his own head up, to sit independently, to crawl and to walk.”

“They were phenomenal,” Trefzger said. “Hunter would not be the person he is today if he didn’t receive therapy.”

But last May 25, Easterseals Central Illinois announced the cut, scheduled to take effect within 90 days.

“The reason was because the state changed the requirement regarding the amount of administrative work required for reimbursement,” President Gina Mandros explained. “The amount of reimbursement didn’t reflect the additional administrative operational costs.”

Medicaid reimbursement already was low, Mandros said. “It is, at best, 30 percent reimbursement,” she said.

“It’s very frustrating that there are rules beyond our control and they affect kids like Hunter,” Mandros said. “Hunter is a wonderful kid and was making amazing progress here. He was among many kids we had to let go off our caseload. It was a difficult time for everyone.”

The move resulted in a “substantial cost savings,” said Mandros, who didn’t have a dollar figure available. Easterseals Central Illinois eliminated 14 positions earlier this year.

But Easterseals retained children on Medicaid and Medicaid managed care for physical, occupational and speech therapy evaluations; for periodic check-ins and reassessments; for post-operative therapy; and for autism and cortical visual impairment services, Mandros said.

“Easterseals remains strong in our community,” Mandros said. “Our demographics may be different but we’re helping children to live, learn and thrive in our community.”

Some families called Marcfirst, which is continuing to take children on Medicaid.

Furlong said “The state budget continues to be an ongoing challenge for us.” She cited stagnant reimbursement for therapy for 10 years.

“But we’re committed as an organization to identify alternative sources of income to support all our services,” Furlong said.

Hunter lost services in late August and his mother tried to keep him active.

“For the next six months, it was sad for Hunter,” his mother recalled. “He’d ask when he could go to Easterseals to see his friends.”

In late January, McGriff was let go at Easterseals but was hired at Marcfirst SPICE and called Trefzger.

Hunter resumed physical therapy Feb. 8. “He’s making a lot of progress,” McGriff said.

“Since he resumed services, there is a marked improvement in Hunter,” his mother said.

He remains on a waiting list for occupational and speech therapy. Trefzger hopes those services resume soon. “His speech has regressed,” his mother said. “He doesn’t put his tongue in the right spot when he’s speaking. It’s difficult for him to articulate certain sounds so sometimes it’s harder for people to understand him.”

Short-term, Trefzger hopes that Hunter — who attends early childhood education at Sugar Creek Elementary School — will thrive in kindergarten.

Long-term, Trefzger wants to return to school to become an aroma therapist and wants Hunter — who will be no taller than 4 feet 6 inches — to do anything he wants to do.

“Hunter makes this a heck of a lot easier because he’s happy,” Trefzger said.

After the March 20 therapy session, Hunter was asked what he thought of therapy.

He smiled. “I like all this stuff.”

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Source: The (Bloomington) Pantagraph, http://bit.ly/2n5R3ti

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Information from: The Pantagraph, http://www.pantagraph.com

This is an AP-Illinois Exchange story offered by The (Bloomington) Pantagraph.



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Physical therapist sees dream become reality | News


Ever since he finished college, Troy Herrman has worked in physical therapy.

It’s the profession he’s loved and enjoyed, simply for the aspect of helping people heal. Herrman wouldn’t have had it any other way for the past 18 years.

“I think the most rewarding aspect of physical therapy is watching someone become themselves again,” Herrman said. “We deal with individuals when they are hurting, they’re down, and it’s not their normal self. You get to work with these individuals and build them up and watch them improve. In the process they become a healthier version of themselves. That’s special when that happens.”

Along that path, Herrman has had a dream of opening his own business. After a month of putting a new work place together, he finally was able to see a goal he set for himself years ago come to fruition. On Monday morning, his own business, Herrman Physical Therapy and Wellness opened to the public. It is located at 2707 Broadway Ave. in Hays.

Up until late Easter evening Sunday, Herrman and family members — including his father-in-law and brother-in-law — worked to get the place ready to be open.

“They’ve been a huge help,” Hermann said of his family. “I couldn’t have done it without them.”

A native of Ensign, Herrman graduated from Fort Hays State University, then from the University of Kansas in 1999. He and his family have been in Hays for the past 10 years. He worked at Hays Medical Center as a staff physical therapist, then managed the outpatient rehabilitation department for four years. In the next six years he was a physical therapist at Koerner Chiropractic.

Through the years, Herrman has built strong relationships through work and confidence in himself. He never let the hope of owning his own business elude him. The timing to do it now seemed right.

“I think the biggest thing I’ve gained as far as confidence is just that ability to communicate and bond with individuals, so that they know, ‘Hey, I know I’m going to be OK again,’ ” Herrman said.

The business is staffed by just himself and his front area assistant Mariah Legleiter. Herrman plans to eventually employ at least a few other individuals. For now though, it’s just about establishing the business and relationships with patients. Down the road everything else, he hopes, will fall into place.

“I want people to know they have a choice for physical therapy,” Herrman said. “When patients come here, they will see me every time and it will be a positive experience.”



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Gerding seeks physical therapist program | Focus On Youth


ATV motocross racer Caleb Gerding comes out of the gate with a sense of determination.

“The amount of adrenaline and focus you have before the gate opens is a one of the most intense experiences I have felt,” he said.

However, Gerding said he has overcome multiple injuries. “Overcoming these injuries has taught me to not let a setback get in my head,” Gerding said.

A senior at Claiborne County High, he has decided on a career in physical therapy. He plans to attend Walters State Community College for two years and then try to get into a physical therapist assistant program. “I had physical therapy on my knees  and found that I want to help other recover from injuries,” he said.

His hardworking attitude is due, in part, to inspiration from his father. “He is probably the hardest working, most determined person I know,” Gerding said.

Gerding thinks today’s young people have trouble balancing their school and social lives. Possessing time management skills, he says, is how his generation can break this barrier.

He thinks a big challenge in America today is prejudice. “If we could all unite the country as a whole we would be stronger, safer and more economically well off, he said.

He is the son of Bernetta and Phillip Gerding.



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Alumna, physical therapist encourages STEM exploration


Credits tuition aid grant program with giving her the stepping stone for her education

“Rewarding” does not begin to describe the feeling Caldwell University alumna Monique Pineros  has every day when she heads out the door to work as a physical therapist. “Bringing back a human body to its normal functions with one’s hands is truly an art,” she says.

Pineros remembers her days at Caldwell and how her exposure to the liberal arts and to the diversity of campus life helped prepare her for the dream of entering the medical field. After receiving her doctorate in physical therapy from Quinnipiac University in 2016, she began to practice physical therapy and teach as an adjunct in Caldwell’s Natural and Physical Sciences Department.

“It all would never have been possible without that first stepping-stone, which was Caldwell University, along with the help of TAG,” she says. TAG is a New Jersey  need based grant program that  helps lower income students achieve their dream of receiving a college education.

“When I stand behind the podium in the classroom or evaluate and treat my patients in the clinic, I am constantly reminded that everyone has the potential to become their very best. The trick lies in becoming the individual’s first pusher in order to tap into it.”

Having been “fortunate enough and blessed to be on that receiving side,” Pineros wants to give back. “I too want to be on the other side to help that individual, whether student or patient.

“Coming from a family with financial hardships, I realized I required all the help necessary in order to make my dreams of a college education a reality. TAG was able to provide me with the financial bridge I needed to fulfill my academic studies at Caldwell University.”

Caldwell exposed her to a liberal arts foundation and to a diverse student body. “As a practicing physical therapist, I am able to clearly see the connections from the classroom theory I was given at Caldwell as well as the wealth of knowledge I gained from the interactions with my former peers to that of my current patient population. Not only was I given the academic foundation to pursue graduate studies but also the foundation to interact with patients in the clinic from all ages and walks of life.”

Having the opportunity to interact one on one with her professors at Caldwell and to create trusting relationships made her comfortable with the exchange of ideas at the professional and personal levels. “This was and is quintessential to my everyday life, in and outside of clinical practice.”

Pineros wants to help others who have talents in the STEM fields to be forward-thinking and passionate. “Marrying my love of physical therapy and clinical practice to that of teaching is what I aspire towards because not only do I want to inspire the generations after me in the classroom, I want to ignite a fire and thirst for never-ending exploration for the sciences, health and our future innovations.”



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Alumna encourages STEM exploration as physical therapist and teacher


Credits tuition aid grant program with giving her the stepping stone for her education

“Rewarding” does not begin to describe the feeling Caldwell University alumna Monique Pineros  has every day when she heads out the door to work as a physical therapist. “Bringing back a human body to its normal functions with one’s hands is truly an art,” she says.

Pineros remembers her days at Caldwell and how her exposure to the liberal arts and to the diversity of campus life helped prepare her for the dream of entering the medical field. After receiving her doctorate in physical therapy from Quinnipiac University in 2016, she began to practice physical therapy and teach as an adjunct in Caldwell’s Natural and Physical Sciences Department.

“It all would never have been possible without that first stepping-stone, which was Caldwell University, along with the help of TAG,” she says. TAG is a New Jersey  need based grant program that  helps lower income students achieve their dream of receiving a college education.

“When I stand behind the podium in the classroom or evaluate and treat my patients in the clinic, I am constantly reminded that everyone has the potential to become their very best. The trick lies in becoming the individual’s first pusher in order to tap into it.”

Having been “fortunate enough and blessed to be on that receiving side,” Pineros wants to give back. “I too want to be on the other side to help that individual, whether student or patient.

“Coming from a family with financial hardships, I realized I required all the help necessary in order to make my dreams of a college education a reality. TAG was able to provide me with the financial bridge I needed to fulfill my academic studies at Caldwell University.”

Caldwell exposed her to a liberal arts foundation and to a diverse student body. “As a practicing physical therapist, I am able to clearly see the connections from the classroom theory I was given at Caldwell as well as the wealth of knowledge I gained from the interactions with my former peers to that of my current patient population. Not only was I given the academic foundation to pursue graduate studies but also the foundation to interact with patients in the clinic from all ages and walks of life.”

Having the opportunity to interact one on one with her professors at Caldwell and to create trusting relationships made her comfortable with the exchange of ideas at the professional and personal levels. “This was and is quintessential to my everyday life, in and outside of clinical practice.”

Pineros wants to help others who have talents in the STEM fields to be forward-thinking and passionate. “Marrying my love of physical therapy and clinical practice to that of teaching is what I aspire towards because not only do I want to inspire the generations after me in the classroom, I want to ignite a fire and thirst for never-ending exploration for the sciences, health and our future innovations.”



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Capitol PT Physical Therapist Recognized with Statewide Award


Sarah Stineman, Rookie of the Year

I am honored and grateful to have been chosen by the WPTA to receive such a distinguished award.

Capitol Physical Therapy is proud to announce that Dr. Sarah Stineman, PT, DPT, OCS, has been selected by the Wisconsin Physical Therapy Association (WPTA) as this year’s recipient of the WPTA Rookie of the Year Award. The WPTA Rookie of the Year Award is awarded annually to a member of the WPTA who has made significant contributions to the physical therapy profession in the areas of clinical practice or service within three years of graduation from an accredited PT or PTA program. This award also acknowledges an individual WPTA member in good standing who has made outstanding and enduring contributions to the practice of physical therapy.

Dr. Stineman received this award by proving her dedication to her profession at the state level. Currently, she serves as Wisconsin’s Federal Affairs Liaison for the WPTA, and is an active member of WPTA’s Technology Committee. She is a past recipient of WPTA’s Student Emerging Leader Award. On a national level, Dr. Stineman is past recipient of the APTA Outstanding Student Award and served on APTA’s Health Policy & Administration Student Mentorship Program.

Sarah is also a leader in her current position as Assistant Director of Capitol Physical Therapy’s Madison location, and in 2016 was recipient of Capitol PT’s Above & Beyond Award. She leads her team by example with clinical excellence, professional fortitude and integrity.

Dr. Stineman holds a Doctor in Physical Therapy from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and completed an orthopedic residency at the University of Wisconsin Hospital and Clinics and Meriter Hospitals. She has received training and earned the professional designation of Orthopedic Certified Specialist (OCS). This board-certification is granted by the APTA’s American Board of Physical Therapy Specialists (ABPTS) and only 3.9% of therapists in the United States are Orthopedic Certified Specialists. This board-certification involves rigorous application and examination processes and provides assurance to patients and the medical community of Dr. Stineman’s skills and abilities. She is recognized for advanced knowledge, experience, and skills in the practice of orthopedic physical therapy and the conditions affecting bones, joints, ligaments, tendons, muscles, and nerves.

“I am honored and grateful to have been chosen by the WPTA to receive such a distinguished award, and I am also grateful to Capitol Physical Therapy for supporting me in combining my passions of clinical care, leading others, and to better the field of physical therapy through my work with our state and national associations,” said Stineman. Stineman was honored at a ceremony and reception at the Radisson Hotel in Green Bay, Wisconsin on April 20th, 2017. For more information on the award, please visit the WPTA website.

About Capitol Physical Therapy

Since 2004, Capitol Physical Therapy has been delivering patient focused therapy to the Dane County area, and they are now touching lives each day in Verona, Mount Horeb, Madison, and Sun Prairie. Patients continue to experience the same unparalleled customer service and outstanding results they received when the doors opened. Capitol Physical Therapy remains committed to providing ‘expert care without the wait’. For more information, please visit http://www.capitolphysicaltherapy.com. You can also find Capitol PT on Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, and Twitter.

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Graduate Eyes Commission with U.S. Navy as Physical Therapist


The Snapchat video popped up at the end of a long week. It was a military veteran, an amputee who had lost part of his leg and all but given up hope he could regain the strength for everyday activities like working out at a gym.

“Hey Vinnie,” beamed the young man following a physical therapy session at Walter Reed Medical Center. “I wanted to let you know I’m super-sore from our workout. But thanks for pushing me through it, because I can tell it’s working.”

That 10-second video validated everything Rutgers School of Health Professions Physical Therapy Program student Vincent Petracco had worked so hard toward.

“This person told me, ‘I’ve never had a connection like this with a therapist,” said Petracco, whose last semester was spent in clinical rotation at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Washington, D.C. “Here I am at the most prestigious clinical setting I can think of, and a patient is telling me I made an impact. This is what it’s all about for me.”

For the past three years, Petracco has balanced a commitment as a reservist in the U.S. Coast Guard in Cape May  where a weekend might find him pulling a missing boater from the sea  with the demands of the rigorous, full-time doctor of physical therapy program located in Newark. 

And he has more than succeeded, his professors say.

“He has a presence about him. He knows what he wants to achieve, and it’s very much tied to service above and beyond serving people through physical therapy. He wants to serve those in the military,” said Nancy Kirsch, director of the Rutgers School of Health Professions Physical Therapy North program. 

Rutgers SHP had lobbied for a coveted rotation at Walter Reed and when it succeeded this year, the program wanted its first intern to be stellar, someone who would pave the way for others. The name that immediately shot to mind was  Petracco, who came to the program on the GI bill, and whose self-discipline and sense of purpose were evident almost from the day he stepped in the classroom.

But Mr. Petracco didn’t always have that sense of purpose. A first-generation college student, he quit school after one semester. His parents moved south, leaving him with a house in Sandy Hook to keep up.

Construction work paid the bills, while he pursued a dream of being in a rock band.  A trumpet and bass guitar player, he performed at Asbury Park’s legendary Stone Pony (although never running into Bruce Springsteen), and once opened for Bob Marley’s Wailers.

But when he lost his construction job, he ditched his dream of a career in a band and joined the U.S. Coast Guard. Stationed at Fort Pierce, Florida, his search-and-rescue duties included such work as plucking inexperienced lobster divers from rough waters. He also did drug enforcement.

Petracco also pushed himself to get a degree, taking credits through Penn State University’s online program, and then finishing his Bachelor’s Degree at Monmouth University before enrolling at Rutgers School of Health Professions. “My parents had jobs, but not a career. I knew I wanted a career,” he said.

A triathlon competitor, he discovered his interest in physical therapy while a patient receiving treatment for injuries caused by overuse. “They were like magicians. They knew what was causing my pain and could make it better, ” he said. “For me, that was it. I decided to leave active duty and pursue physical therapy.”

He couldn’t leave the military entirely behind, however, and his work as a reservist – which includes a supervising a boat unit in Cape May –  earned him three Coast Guard awards in 2016. He was one of nine national finalists for 2016 Coast Guard Reserve Enlisted Person of the Year. Among other things, he was commended for his volunteer work to reduce injuries among reservists by teaching them proper stretching techniques, and his ability to connect with veterans.

In the classroom, he has not only excelled as a student in the Physical Therapy Program, he took on the role of teaching assistant for gross anatomy, a job he loves.

It hasn’t always been easy. Professor Kirsch said when faculty noticed his fatigue, and learned of his Coast Guard duty, they offered him some flexibility in completing the curriculum. “He never asked,” she said. “We just realized how hard he was working.”

While in the Coast Guard, he got married and he and his wife, Jillian, are expecting their first child in September. His goal upon graduation is to get a commission in the U.S Navy as a physical therapist.

“I feel that being in the military gives me a level of camaraderie with veterans,” he said. “Hopefully, I can make a significant impact not only in their rehabilitation, but on their lives as well.”


For media inquiries, contact Bev McCarron at 973-972-9269 or bam261@shp.rutgers.edu.



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St. Claire Regional Welcomes New Pediatric Physical Therapist, Stacy Border, PT, DPT


St. Claire Regional (SCR) is pleased to announce the addition of Stacy Border, PT, DPT, to our pediatric therapy team. Border is now seeing and accepting new patients by referral at the St. Claire Regional Outpatient Center.

Border is passionate about working with children and says she is excited to join SCR’s pediatric therapy team. “I love working with children because they are full of joy, imagination and desire to learn and move,” Border says. “All children want to have fun, play and explore. Some may be limited by sensory or movement dysfunctions, but all children have the potential to improve. Through therapy techniques, I work with children to help them maximize their potential to participate in all of life’s activities.”

Border received her Bachelor of Science from Kent State University in Kent, Ohio, and her Doctorate in Physical Therapy from Walsh University in North Canton, Ohio. Prior to joining SCR, she worked as a recreational therapist for 9 years and a physical therapist for 3.

SCR’s pediatric therapy team consists of physical, occupational and speech therapists dedicated to helping children live up to their maximum potential and develop the skills needed to become independent adults. SCR’s therapists provide a thorough evaluation and customize a therapeutic plan for each child’s specific needs to improve their cognitive, physical, sensory and motor skills. In addition to individualized support for the child, SCR works with the entire family to ensure the best possible outcomes.

If you have concerns about your child’s development, ask your healthcare provider for a referral to see one of SCR’s pediatric therapy specialists. For more information on SCR’s pediatric therapy services, call 606.783.6915.



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Pella Regional Physical Therapist Certified as Therapeutic Pain Specialist | KNIA / KRLS


Pella Regional Physical Therapist Certified as Therapeutic Pain Specialist

Posted: Wednesday, April 12th, 2017 at 5:51 am
Author: KNIA/KRLS News Staff

Karen Chambers, MSPT, physical therapist at Pella Regional’s Medical Clinic in Knoxville, is now certified as a Therapeutic Pain Specialist by the International Spine and Pain Institute.

The program is an additional 6-12-month interdisciplinary pain certification that provides training on current evidence in pain neuroscience. Graduates of the program are skilled in the evaluation and treatment of chronic pain. The ultimate outcome of the program is designed to enhance the role of pain science professionals in treating patients with pain.

With this certification, Chambers has developed additional knowledge of pain sciences and best practices and has integrated this knowledge into her treatment of patients at Pella Regional’s Medical Clinic in Knoxville. This certification is in addition to her master’s degree which is required to practice physical therapy in the state of Iowa. For more information or to schedule an appointment to assess chronic pain, call Therapy at Medical Clinic in Knoxville at 641-828-3807.



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Tri-state physical therapist receives certification in dry-needling technique


TELL CITY – Brandi Labhart, physical therapist and clinical director for advanced rehabilitation Inc. received her functional dry needling certification from KinetaCore Physical Therapy Education in September 2016.


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