By Amber Mabe
No one likes to be in pain. In fact, we generally do everything we can to avoid it. So why do so many of us resign ourselves to living with chronic pain? Not only does pain hurt in a physical sense but living with pain in the body can have long term and life-altering effects. Physical pain triggers the fight or flight response, activating processes that are meant to protect the body. But when pain is left unmanaged it can cause changes to stress hormones, resulting in mood swings or depression. People suffering from persistent pain often struggle to sleep, concentrate, and find enjoyment in their daily activities. They can even suffer from gastric and heart issues.
At BreakThrough Physical Therapy, Dr. Drew Schlabach and his team believe no one should have to live with pain, even for a short period of time. In the Kernersville region, it is not uncommon for patients to have to wait up to five weeks to be seen by a physical therapist after being referred by a physician. “A primary reason why people are referred is because they are in pain, and that is a long time to wait if you are suffering,” says Dr. Drew. “We aim to get each referral scheduled within 24 to 48 hours of receiving the referral.” This early treatment by a physical therapist can reduce the need for expensive injections, imaging such as MRI, and opioid medications. This helps patients feel better faster and reduces their medical expenses.
Contrary to what you might think, you do not need a referral to see a physical therapist. In fact, a physical therapist is better equipped to root out the underlying cause of your pain than most general practitioners. “Studies show physical therapists had higher levels of knowledge in managing musculoskeletal conditions than medical students, physician interns and residents, and all physician specialists except for orthopaedists,” says Dr. Drew. “Furthermore, experienced physical therapists who were board-certified in orthopedic or sports physical therapy achieved significantly higher scores and passing rates than their non-board-certified colleagues.” Over 40% of the staff at BreakThrough Physical Therapy are currently board-certified, with more on track to be certified within the next two years. This gives them the distinction of being in the scant 8-10% national average of physical therapists with this certification. Additionally, over 40% of BreakThrough’s physical therapists have achieved their Orthopedic Clinical Specialist (OCS) certification, with more preparing to sit for certification soon. When you consider that less than 6% of all physical therapists have their OCS certification, this sets BreakThrough apart as having the highest trained staff in the area.
Dr. Drew recently completed a Fellowship in Orthopedic Manual Physical Therapy, putting him in the mere 2% of all physical therapists to complete this highest-level clinical training. Although Dr. Drew initially started his college experience majoring in business and accounting and focusing on baseball, it did not take him long to discover his true passion. “I had to do some soul searching and find out what I really enjoyed doing,” he says, “I always loved biology, kinesiology and being active, so becoming a physical therapist was perfect. I had a friend who put me in touch with a PT to shadow for a few days. I fell in love with it and never looked back.”
Dr. Drew went on to complete not only his initial schooling in physical therapy, but also a residency and a fellowship, eventually becoming a teacher and mentor for students and residents at High Point University. “Learning and pouring that back into others energizes me and keeps me going,” says Dr. Drew. He says he loves living and working in the Kernersville area because of the small town feel and the friendliness of Kernersville residents. Through involvement with the Kernersville Chamber of Commerce and the support of local events and charities, BreakThrough seeks to connect with and give back to the local community. “We believe that healthcare is local, so what works in Charlotte does not necessarily work as well in Kernersville,” says Dr. Drew. “I am comfortable with Kernersville and delivering the type of healthcare they need in the way they prefer it. We are constantly reaching out to the local doctors to ensure we are providing the level and type of care they prefer.”
In addition to having a first-rate, highly knowledgeable staff, BreakThrough Physical Therapy employs the latest techniques and technology to get you back on your feet faster. New programs are in the works, such as a program that would allow patients to receive virtual consultations, helping them to connect with the right provider for their needs without a series of appointments. The “Pain Squad” program is being designed to provide a comprehensive approach to chronic or persistent pain, coordinating with other providers based on the individual needs and leveraging the latest research and technology to give the patient tools to improve their quality of life. Currently, innovative treatments such as trigger point dry needling (TDN), blood flow restriction therapy (BFRT), and even virtual reality are just a few of the many tools BreakThrough uses to help their patients leave not only restored to their former state of health, but ideally better and stronger than they were before. Dr. Drew says BreakThrough is a function-forward practice, looking not just to relieve symptoms but to fix problems at their root and improve long-term quality of life. “You are not just going to do table exercises when you are feeling better. We believe in getting our patients stronger and more life-proof, long after they finish seeing their PT, regardless of prior fitness level or health status.”
The BreakThrough approach to physical therapy has helped many patients to defeat chronic pain and regain control of their lives. One patient shared, “I started seeing Drew 5 months ago for ankle instability/constant ankle sprains and fibromyalgia pain. 5 months ago, I was basically stuck in bed all day with 2 ankle sprains that would not heal. I couldn’t stand up long enough to cook, clean, or even check the mail. I have seen other PTs before for the same recurring issue but was told that they couldn’t help me or that I would never be able to be active again. But then I was referred to BreakThrough and since Drew started working with me, I am lifting some weights, I can do box jumps, and am learning to jog again. Drew has extensive knowledge about pain and his recommendations have also helped me manage fibromyalgia which has resulted in fewer flares. I am not exaggerating when I say that I have gotten my life back.”
If you struggle with pain, do not wait to seek treatment. For more information about BreakThrough and the treatments they offer, visit BreakThrough-PT.com or call the Kernersville office at 336-310-0750.