If you go to Ballinger Memorial Hospital District physical therapy department, you’ll find a new physical therapist, Dan Grimes, working diligently with patients and coworkers. Grimes is originally from Elm Hurst, Illinois, just outside of Chicago. After high school he was recruited to play football and attended St. Francis University in Loretto, PA, about 2 hours east of Pittsburgh. Grimes played on the football team as a linebacker for 3 years before finding his way to Angelo State University.

Grimes is energetic, intelligent and works tirelessly with his patients to address their health through physical therapy and education.

Grimes received his DPT (Doctor of Physical Therapy) degree from Angelo State University. Grimes says that a DPT degree program differs from a traditional Ph.D such as a medical doctor receives, “A DPT is a clinical doctorate. We have to do a research project called a Capstone. The majority of our experience is clinically based so our doctorate is clinical based. I got my DPT from ASU. I’m really happy that I ended up in Texas.”

Grimes says that some research he has been conducting may soon be published, “I did my Capstone on the effects that the position that your trunk has on a specific type of knee pain when you walk stairs. It was the first research done on this particular type of knee pain, specifically when doing a functional activity such as walking up or down stairs. Actually we’re looking at getting published right now.

The point of that research was really to show the world that it could be something as simple as lean your trunk forward about 7 degrees and that pain will go away. There is so much in the world of medicine right now focusing on just that, ‘How do we take somebody’s pain, give them a pill and passively deal with it.’ Sometimes when people think of physical therapy, they think of hard work or they think ‘Well, I have to go and exercise.’”

A given pain can be caused from a multitude of reasons and addressing the specific issues, rather than just a pain med and some physical therapy, is Grimes’ goal, ”Our approach is multifactorial because pain itself is multifactorial. I use different means of education that are research based. There are a couple of clinicians in the physical therapy and the pain management world who are widely renowned for a basic physical therapy regimen that we all do, adding a little pain-science education. Their results have shown to be astoundingly better. For instance, to treat someone with a medication, Gabapentin is a medication commonly prescribed to nearly everyone in pain. I see it all of the time. The number needed to treat for Gabapentin to relieve pain is a 6-1. So one person will get better and have a relief from their pain and 6 won’t. That’s the ugly truth that research shows us. There are 22 Physical Therapy based techniques ranging from mindful meditation to massage and annual therapy to exercise, you combine that with education and the number is 3-1. I like to think that I’m more inexpensive than the medications out there.”

The world of physical therapy is always evolving. There is always learning that needs to be done, continuing education classes along with other requirements. “PT is better described as a practice or art. Art forms can always be perfected and can always be made better. Today what we consider cutting edge won’t be 6 months from now. That is the wonderful thing about PT. I really believe that for how long pain has existed, it took until about 2012 for us to really start finding the best ways to treat it. The cutting edge stuff, 6 months or a year from now, something new will be there. But that’s kudos to Susan (Schwertner – Director of Physical Therapy) and Rhett (Fricke, CEO). One thing that they’re really big on is giving you the opportunity to seek your continuing education credits, basically whenever you need them. Other places that I interviewed at had caps on the continuing education that you could do and time limes. Fortunately that hasn’t been the case.”

For physical therapy to be successful, the patient has to be willing to take an active role in their treatment, “First and foremost, when it comes to educating people about their pain, I ask them, ‘Is this something that you want to learn.’ Because if someone isn’t ready to hear it, you can actually make them pretty mad. If they say, ‘It’s my knee.‘ I say, ‘Yeah, it most certainly is your knee but there is more to learn about pain than just the knee. Do you want me to explain some stuff and provide you some information to read?’ Everybody is completely different. A treatment plan is based first and foremost on the referral. From there everything that I do is based off of my evaluation, my examination of that patient. Because Suzy’s knee pain can present a lot like Tommy’s knee pain, but there can be two completely different causes. With a strictly mechanical approach to physical therapy I go and fix Suzy, because her hips were weak. Tommy’s knee is because his feet are weak. While it manifests as the same knee pain, it may be completely different and it usually is. I was taught by Dr. Kendra Nicks and Jimmy Villers, who were our musculoskeletal professors, to do a physical exam first. Think about clinically, ‘What does this person tell you? What does their exam say about what the problem is?’ Then you can look at the radiograph or MRI.”

Grimes also spoke about the communication of the medical team at the hospital and their approach to the treatment of each patient, “Communication is huge with the entire medical team. I give kudos here because when he have a patient on the swing-bed program, we have a weekly meeting with the entire staff from nursing all the way down to nutrition. And everybody discusses how the patient is doing, what’s going on with the patient and that gives me the opportunity to speak directly with every member of the medical team and tell them, Here’s what I think.’ “From my experience the physicians are extremely open to you keeping them in the loop. Where it really comes into play is where if I find something that is a red flag or an acute onset and I need further medical attention, that is where it’s really important.”

Grimes has already been caring for the patients at Ballinger Memorial Hospital for a few weeks and is getting to know everyone. He’s in constant motion, stopping only when he’s treating a patient. He says that he cares about his patients and works hard with the other members of the hospital staff to ensure that the patients get the best care possible.