Health Team

Physical therapy benefits help UNC Hospital worker stay productive

Posted March 23, 2010 5:41 p.m. EDT
Updated March 23, 2010 6:20 p.m. EDT

— Eve Pedersen, a computerized tomography technologist at UNC Hospitals, had trouble moving a patient to an exam table last year.

“The patient transfer was accomplished safely, but unfortunately I injured my knee in the process,” she said.

Pedersen’s knee had fluid build-up, inflammation and pain. She didn't need surgery but did need physical therapy.

“We had noticed some deficits as far as flexibility and some tracking deficits in her knee,” UNC physical therapist Kevin Poplawski said.

Poplawski offered stretching and strength exercises. Pedersen came in twice a week for about five months receiving medical treatments called iontopheresis.

“(Iontopheresis) uses an electric current to drive the medication through on a patch, and that patch contains the medication,” Poplawski said.

Many employers wonder if the benefits of physical therapy for employees are worth the costs.

“The cost of the physical therapy, I think, would be minuscule compared to the productivity they can provide to their work setting,” Poplawski said.

Effective therapy could keep the injury from getting worse. Poplawski has seen many people ignore minor injuries only to later need surgery.

“The toughest time we have with patients is if something’s been going on a long time,” he said.

Regular therapy visits and exercise at home helped Pedersen stay productive at work.

“Occasionally I do feel pain in my knee, but most of the time it's good,” she said.

Pedersen has improved so much she is training for a half-marathon.