News: The right treatment down range
Story by Staff Sgt. Anthony White
by Sgt. Tony White
5th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment
KIRKUK, Iraq—During previous deployments when a Soldier was injured, most of the time he would end up rehabilitating his injury back in Germany, out of the combat zone. However, there is a new option for these Soldiers as brigade combat teams now are deploying with physical therapists.
When the 3rd Brigade Combat Team (BCT), 25th Infantry Division deployed this past August, they deployed with a physical therapist team. The two-man team based out of Forward Operating Base Warrior near Kirkuk, will move throughout northern Iraq to help treat injured brigade Soldiers.
"They (the Soldiers) were really shocked to see a physical therapist deploying with them," said Staff Sgt. Douglas Biala, 3rd BCT, 25th Inf. Div. physician's assistant. "They never even knew about (us)."
The physical therapist program was previously tested in the Special Forces and Ranger battalions, said Capt. Zack Solomon, 3rd BCT, 25th Inf. Div. physical therapist. The program was a success there, so the Army made a decision to try it out with the rest of the Army.
"The Army finally got smart and decided to put a physical therapist down to the brigade combat teams," said Solomon, a native of Novato, Calif. "Now we are able to actually impact the Soldiers and get them better."
"Direct access is the thing right now," added Biala, a native of Jacksonville, Fla. "We actually treat the injury instead of sending Soldiers away with Motrin and a profile."
Chaplin (Capt.) Christopher Degn, 3rd Brigade Special Troops Battalion, 25th Infantry Division, has been one of beneficiaries of the deployed physical therapists.
"I was allowed to finish my knee therapy here (rather than back in Hawaii)," Degn said. "I was two-thirds of the way through my rehabilitation when the unit deployed. Using (Solomon's) walk to run program, I am back to about 80 to 90 percent. Capt. Solomon made it possible for me to deploy with my troops. These guys are lifesavers."
The physical therapists treat injuries from all over the body. The most common injury requiring treatment is back injuries, Solomon continued. "That is caused by wearing all of that nice protective gear that saves our lives. Unfortunately it can wear down on your back,"
Biala said he anticipates the patients point of view will change with physical therapists in country.
"Now they can get treated by a physical therapist rather than having to walk around hurting for two weeks while waiting to see a physician's assistant," Biala said.
"We can get them right at the site of the injury and get them moving a lot quicker It is sports medicine on the battlefield," Solomon added.