A small couch sits against the wall of a room filled with treadmills, a strengthening center, and an array of multi-colored resistance bands. One patient sits on the couch waiting to be seen, with shaky knees, unsure of the possible diagnosis. The blur of voices and the sound of the ventilation system are the only noises heard. “You can come on back,” is said in a tender voice, and the start of the treatment begins.
Once a Sailor feels pain and can’t properly perform their job due to a past injury, some go down to physical therapy to get help to heal their injuries.
Physical therapy on board USS Nimitz (CVN 68) helps rehabilitate Sailors and provides them with the tools necessary to be healthy and mission ready when they feel pain and are unable to do their job. A Sailor needs to make an appointment to be seen for their injury and once their appointment date arrives they can start their treatment process.
Greenfield, Nimitz’ physical therapy officer, went to Widener University, where he earned his degree in physical therapy. Previous injuries motivated him to become a physical therapy and give the same help he once received.
“I remember getting hurt and getting help in physical therapy,” said Greenfield. “It’s great to go from the patient to the doctor, because I know how great I felt once I got better. It’s the best feeling in the world when I get to give my patients that same feeling.”
It’s not just the patients that make Greenfields’ work so enjoyable. When Greenfield was stationed on Nimitz, he didn’t he didn’t know he would love his job and enjoy his staff as much as he does.
“Being on Nimitz is awesome,” said Greenfield. “I work with great people here and I love helping patients get better. I don’t think I will ever get an opportunity to practice this skill, like I have on Nimitz, anywhere else. We don’t have as much supply as a hospital would, so we do everything we can to help them in more inventive ways, like being able to treat patients with chronic neck or back pain with dry needling, which is like acupuncture.”
Greenfield and Hospital Corpsman 3rd Class Jesse Beckstead, Nimitz’ physical therapy technician, help many Sailors per month when they come to physical therapy.
“We get about 75 to 150 patients a month,” said Beckstead. “I will make an appointment for them to see Lt. Greenfield first, and he will go over their diagnosis with them. Then, the patient will come see me for several weeks until they are ready to go on their own and do their job again.”
Once a Sailor’s job is affected by an injury, physical therapy is highly recommended.
“I went down to physical therapy, because I was having hip pains,” said Yeoman 1st Class Ashley Bordelon, Nimitz’ Air Department’s leading Yeoman. “It was very helpful. They didn’t just try to do a quick fix; they got to the root of the problem and helped set me up for success.”
At sea or in the yards, Nimitz needs her Sailors. When an injury occurs it can prevent a Sailor from getting their job done, but the staff in physical therapy are ready to work with Sailors ready to help a them feel better and get back to work.
“The injury itself didn’t really hinder me from doing my job, but it did make things more difficult because I was thinking about it a lot,” said Bordelon. “Once I could do exercises to help lessen my pain I didn’t worry about it anymore and that was awesome.”
When Sailors go to physical therapy the root of the problem is identified, diagnosed and then treated. Once treatment is over, most Sailors don’t come back with that injury.
“I love it when patients come in and we can help them get better so they don’t have to come back,” said Beckstead. “It’s frustrating when you can’t do your job because of an injury. When Lt. Greenfield and I can help get them back to work, it’s the best feeling.”
Every injury is unique, but no matter how an injury happened or how long a Sailor has had it, Nimitz’ physical therapy is ready to help.
After treatment and a good prognosis the patient is ready to get back to work. The once intimidating room becomes a place of comfort. Taking one last look at the room, the Sailor says their final “goodbye,” and walks to the door and back to the rest of the ship, healthy and ready to fulfill their role.