My name is Melanie Ackerly, I am a physical therapist living and working in Charlotte. When I am not working, you can see me going out for a run, training at a local gym, or exploring this growing city. Ever since I could remember, fitness and an active lifestyle has always been a part of my life. I grew up in a small town in Ohio so we really had to make our own fun. This included races between my sister, dad and myself in our backyard and on the street, getting together with family and friends for a game of kickball, soccer, sand volleyball and the list goes on. On top of weekend fun, I participated in several sports per season. When competitive sports are a necessity, injuries commonly occur. When injuries occur, therapy is recommended. I went to physical therapy for several injuries but my experience was less than stellar, I often noticed I was overlooked and double booked. I felt like I was a nuisance to even be there and felt my presence was inconveniencing the staff.
I was intrigued with the profession, it was a way to combine health and fitness with the medical field. I decided in high school to follow my passion and study to be a physical therapist. (I know, how can someone be motivated after a bad experience?) I wanted to improve the profession, I wanted to find what was missing and make it better. I shadowed any place that would let me in all specialties. I loved it for so many reasons but one patient in particular stands out, she had fallen previously and shattered her patella… the whole clinic was cheering her on as she met one of her goals. The clinic felt like a family and tears of joy spread down her cheeks which soon followed with hugs from the entire staff. To say I was inspired is an understatement. I could not wait to be that person to others.
I went to further my education at the University of St. Augustine for Health Sciences where caffeine became the necessity and fitness my outlet. Hours spent sitting in class followed by fast intense workouts lead me to the most devastating injury… I injured my back by simply bending forward. I was unable to even dress for what seemed like forever. Asking for help was not easy for me but it became necessary. I couldn’t even sit through a class without being in tears. I sought out I found myself, once again, overlooked by therapists. Fear took over and I was beginning to feel helpless. It took one person who had the time to listen and after one visit I was pain-free. Thanks to her, I regained faith in the profession I was pursuing. I have since moved to 4 different states in a matter of a few years which makes finding a job and my own healthcare complicated.
Why the long story? Because I know first hand how difficult and frustrating it can be to find a health care professional that has the time to listen and make your rehab experience their priority. I have had jobs that put me in the situation where I felt unable to use my skills because I was seeing too many patients at one time. Now I can say I have finally found a clinic that allows me to make my patients a priority. I am seeing faster results because I am able to take the time. I am closer to my dreams at creating a better physical therapy experience and trying to be that inspiration to others.
My message: make your healthcare a priority, don’t go through your workouts thinking the pain will magically get better. Find a clinic and a professional that makes YOU a priority. Physical therapy needs to be part of a regimen with every active individual. It should be part of a maintenance routine that helps you REACH your goals, not omit what makes you happy.