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Providers Weigh In: Specialized Physical Therapists Deliver Advanced Treatment for Complex Conditions

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

If you drive around Chicago often, you've probably seen any number of physical therapy (PT) clinics. You wouldn't be blamed for thinking they're all the same type of thing — a strip-mall location with an active-sounding name.

But despite its ubiquity, PT isn't just for treating the joint and muscle injuries incurred while training for the marathon. And you don't have to look for it in the middle of a shopping district.

Josiah Sault
Josiah D. Sault, PT, DPT, OCS, FAAOMPT
Rehabilitation Services

"Physical Therapy at UI Health is different from many outpatient clinics in that patients can expect predominately one-on-one care for every session by the same therapist," says Josiah Sault, coordinator of outpatient physical therapy at UI Health. "This model is more likely to improve outcomes for patients than being seen by multiple providers.

"Additionally, patients can expect individualized treatment that is tailored to their unique problem - not a standardized protocol that may not meet their needs," he adds. "Patients with more complex orthopaedic problems may be able to see a fellow-in-training during a mentoring session to get input from a senior/expert clinician on their care, or see a current fellow for care."

A "fellow" refers to a Fellow of the American Academy of Orthopaedic Manual Physical Therapists (FAAOMPT). These therapists have completed a 1-year intensive program focusing on clinical reasoning, differential diagnosis (the distinguishing of a condition of disease from other clinical presentations), and technical skill in treating individuals with primarily orthopaedic complaints — such as bone, joint, or muscle injuries and pain — with a special focus in the application of hands-on manual therapy interventions, including joint and soft tissue manipulation and mobilization. At UI Health, fellows-in-training participate in UIC PT classes, help lab assist in the doctorate in physical therapy program, and have 4 hours of mentored practice with a faculty member every week. Currently, seven FAAOMPT see patients at UI Health — five at the Outpatient Care Center (OCC) and two at University Village — and there are four in training (three at the OCC, one at University Village).

"We're extremely proud of our fellow program here," Sault says. "Not only are the therapists furthering their diagnostic and treatment skills, but they serve as assets to our PT faculty and help train the next generation of rehabilitation specialists. Learning and teaching this way is perfectly in step with our mission at UI Health."

The Department of Physical Therapy features a number of providers with advanced certifications in a variety of specialties:

  • Orthopaedic and Neurological Clinical Specialists and Wound Care Specialists all have demonstrated advanced knowledge in evaluation, differential diagnosis, and treatment through completion of a national standardized examination.
  • Pelvic Floor Practitioners have specialized in treatment of pelvic floor disorders that are not treated by a typical outpatient physical therapist. This is a highly specialized area of treatment.
  • Vestibular Physical Therapists treat individuals with vestibular disorders — dizziness — and have a good understanding of how to differentially diagnose the cause of dizziness and appropriately treat it.
  • Certified Lymphedema Therapists evaluate and treat individuals with lymphedema — chronic swelling — utilizing a variety of techniques such as manual lymph drainage, exercise, and specialized wrapping.
  • Pediatric Physical Therapists specialize in treating pediatric patients with a wide range of developmental, neurological, and orthopedic conditions.

Further, several providers work with patients dealing following a number of health issues and after-effects, including:

  • Functional deficits following breast cancer
  • Prosthetic and gait training following lower extremity amputations
  • Mobilization and rehabilitation for the critical ill patients or those in intensive care
  • Head and facial pain, particularly around the jaw, related to temporomandibular disorders

"While we know that most conditions that affect our patients' function respond best when treated early with PT, we're focused on diagnostic reasoning and treating any physical condition or functional problem someone might experience," Sault says. "We have great PTs who help patients recover from everything from common injuries to complex, long-standing problems, and our diverse staff are specially trained to help every patient get back to feeling their best, regardless of where they are in their healing journey."

To learn more about the Physical Therapy services available at UI Health, or to make an appointment with one of our therapists, please visit