September 27, 2016

Angel Fire Physical Therapy Says “I Know Jo”, Do You?

By Jo Mixon

Our featured I Know Jo business of the week is Angel Fire Physical Therapy, A Division of Taos Center for Rehabilitation and Sports Medicine.

When I went in to do my story with Rob Niemeier, DPT at Angel Fire Physical Therapy, I never dreamed that I would leave in a sweat! My sister has recently had surgery on her knee, so my intention was to follow her through her work out and get an idea for you about what goes on in rehab. But when I walked in the door Rob was quick to point out my poor posture and immediately began educating me on ways to correct it. I found that his goal is to educate a client on their current condition and to help them set realistic expectations and goals for recovery. He spends extra time to get the patient to understand why the exercise they are doing is beneficial to them. And he promotes homework!

Rob says most people come in with a typical amount of fear that rehab is going to be painful. And the patients I spoke with while I was there all agreed there was a degree of pain in the beginning. To remove the pain, the object is to keep doing the exercises and build core strength. With this comes the confidence to trust your body again which can be hard after an injury. Rob says he doesn’t want lifetime patients. He wants to fix the problem so people can get back to life. And he does it in a fun but serious atmosphere.

He discussed with me many different scenarios of injuries. Of course many of them are injuries from skiing, biking, and other activities we enjoy in the mountains, but some are simply age related. He went over shoulder impediments, poor posture, and loss of bone density, even the use of hormones and how they can play a part in injury. He says if you smoke, stop it. It takes a smoker’s body 1/3 longer to heal because their bones do not rebuild themselves. Weight bearing exercise helps build bone. He stressed again building core muscle strength.

He stood me on a ball and I quickly fell off. But Cindy, who works there, could stand on the ball on one foot and play catch! Cindy has worked on Ski Patrol for 30 yrs. and came to Angel Fire Physical Therapy after a skiing accident. She believed so deeply in the work accomplished that she has now been working there for about 6 months. Next he sat me on the ball and had me do crunches, I fell off again.

Then he stood me in the corner. This was a progressive balance training exercise. He says everyone should work on balance training especially when you live and play in the mountains. We walk, run, and ski on such a variety of terrain so good balance is mandatory. He wanted me to stand on one foot for one minute. I thought for sure I’d ace that one. Nope. I didn’t make it. He explained that we should be able to stand on each foot for up to 3 minutes or more on a daily basis. And to rub it in, he shared that his 80-year-old Mom could do it!

So I am now standing in the corner on a daily basis trying to work up to the goal of 3 minutes per foot. The corner provides stability when I fall.

Physicians refer 95% of the patients to Angel Fire Physical Therapy. That way rehab is covered by insurance. Rob happens to be the only PT with a Doctorate in the Moreno Valley. He was 48 years old when he decided to change careers. He wanted a job that allowed him to live anywhere in the United States. Originally from St. Louis, I asked him why he chose to move to Valle Escondido and he said, “ My wife has great hair days here.” Touché!

Angel Fire Physical Therapy, 12 Crestview Dr. Suite 1S & 2S, 575-377-1900

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