Therapy by Terri - Relieving your pain

By NADINE WILSON All Woman writer

Monday, March 17, 2014

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THEY say a smile can have healing effects and this perhaps is the first method of treatment offered by licensed physical therapists Dr Terri-Ann Samuels, Vanessa Rhule, Leanne Williams and Sade Greenwood to patients who come to see them regularly to relieve their pain or make them more functional.

The four women are a part of the small team at Therapy by Terri, which is a wellness oasis started by Dr Samuels at her house off Mannings Hill Road. The women have been able to treat the myriad neurological and orthopaedic conditions that affect babies, children and those recovering from chronic conditions, injuries or surgeries.

Dr Samuels started the business after her training three years ago, and by coincidence found herself working with three other committed and independent women.

"When I was going out to find new members as the workload increased and I was looking for more persons to assist me in giving care, a few persons were referred to me by senior professionals as well as educators at the School of Physical Therapy and colleagues of mine. Each girl came highly recommended. They didn't even know they were coming for an interview," said Dr Samuels, who at 30 is the oldest of the four.

She said she was not gender-specific when recruiting, but she does not regret the fact that it's an all-female team. All four women have graduated with bachelor's degrees in physical therapy from the University of the West Indies, Mona, and Dr Samuels also completed her doctorate in physical therapy at Nova Southeastern University. While Rhule has been working with her for over a year, Williams and Greenwood both joined the team in 2013.

"We not only interact well here, but we try to take it outside. We try to do things together like Sigma, breakfast, lunch, little things to stay together and empower each other. I found that each girl has grown since they came here; either come out of their shell or have been more independent and more self-sufficient."

Williams, who is also a mother of one, has her hands full trying to undertake her transitional doctorate in physical therapy online with an overseas university, however, she finds that being a physical therapist provides therapy for her frazzled mind.

"You can see a person and you see their disabilities in a sense, and you can get them to a higher level of functioning and that is what we want to do; to get our patients functional," she said.

Williams was a brand ambassador for Lascelles Group for about five years prior to becoming a physical therapist, and this meant she had to a do a lot of commercials and promotions. She finds that this job was a great segue into what she is currently doing.

"That experience got me to be exposed to different characters, different persons, which also enabled me to work with the patients I had, because every patient is different and so you have to be equipped to know how to deal with different individuals you come in contact with," she said.

Although she always had an interest in medicine, the decision to study to become a physical therapist came in 2006 when she and her mother were held up and she suffered a fractured shoulder. Now she gets to help rehabilitate patients who need help recuperating, and learn from other young women who are driven like herself.

"It is a wonderful environment. Working with women, people would imagine that it would sometimes get a little 'catty' and it might not be as fun at times, but we really are like family and like sisters. We share not only professional knowledge, but we share ideas, similar dreams and want similar achievements," she said.

But while they have several similarities, these young women also have their different interests. Rhule, for example, is a violinist and a member of the Philharmonic Orchestra of Jamaica. In addition to spending time rehabilitating her patients, she also does solo gigs at weddings and a number of other functions.

"It is a task, I guess it's good organisation, time management. I have rehearsals after work and practices. It is just something that I have to schedule time for, because I do love it," said Rhule, who started playing the violin at four years old.

"My mommy told me that I saw a documentary of a violin instructor and her way of teaching her students how to hold the violin was using a tissue box and a pencil. Me and mommy were watching the documentary and she said weeks after, I would not put down a pencil," she said.

But Rhule found that she also loved aquatic therapy and this was what made her decide to become a physical therapist.

"Being here is really awesome and rewarding. As a physiotherapist, you like to feel like you have achieved something with your patient. You and they find a goal and work towards that goal together and you feel good afterwards when you try to work with them to improve their quality of life and make them the best person that they can be functionally," she said.

In addition to being a physical therapist, Greenwood is a certified masseuse who loves to use her hands. Her areas of special interest include neuro-rehabilitation, orthopedics and working with the elderly.

"While going to school, I knew I wanted to do something in the health care field and I had a brother who is deceased now, but he had a traumatic incident and he had to do physical therapy," she said.

Before joining the team at Therapy by Terri, Greenwhood volunteered as a therapist overseas and also interned at several local health care facilities.

"It's a learning process every day and it has been enjoyable. I see why I enjoy being a physio; you have your challenges, but when you work through the challenges, great benefits come," she said.

Dr Samuels said that the demand for physical therapy has increased over the past few years as a result of awareness and because of the fact that Jamaica now has an ageing population.

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