Jacksonville Jaguars Community Report 2016-2017 - Page 36

Being that I was very shy growing up, it was hard for me to be myself for many years. I always kept to myself while I watched everyone around me enjoy the company of others. If it wasn’t for dance and my coaches encouraging me to work with others and to break out of my shell, I might still be that same shy girl that I once was who would have missed out on being awarded top solos in several ballets that I was awarded in my dance career. My dance career was off to great heights until I injured my ankle and it took me out for two months. All of the work I had put into perfecting my technique and physique was put on pause. It was a large setback for me, but through difficulty I believe always comes opportunity. That’s exactly what ended up happening as I began physical therapy. I had a wonderful physical therapist who taught me everything I needed to know about my body and recovery. It was so fascinating to understand the science behind how our muscles and tissues work together to rebuild. I found myself wanting to learn more. So much that I went back to school and received my PT license. I loved how much effort my PT put into helping me return to what I love most and I wanted to do the same for others. Today, as a physical therapist at Brooks Rehab, I work with patients of all ages in helping them to progress and recover from injuries. One thing I discovered is how much nutrition affects the progress of my patient’s healing process. For example, smoking can decrease the healing of tissues causing the recovery period to be extended. Nutrition is one of the major reasons patients run into difficulties. I try and educate them on the benefits of a well-balanced diet for recovery and to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease, diabetes and other health related issues. Not everyone had influencers at a young age to teach healthy habits, but I stress to parents today the importance of early childhood nutrition so that their children are raised with it already engrained in them. Encouraging children to be active, through sports, dance, or any outdoor activities is beneficial to their social, mental and physical health.