02/09/2021 | Press release | Distributed by Public on 02/09/2021 09:22

Meet the Physical Therapist: Danielle Osheski

Since earning her Doctor of Physical Therapy in 2012, Danielle Osheski has worked at MossRehab outpatient care centers. An athlete who played on her college's field hockey team, Danielle has a special interest in physical therapy for treating and managing runners and has researched how to build therapy in this area.

We spoke with Danielle about her background, patient experiences, and how the COVID-19 pandemic has introduced a new category of patients into physical therapy.

What made you decide to become a physical therapist?

Physical therapy was a good fit with my background as an athlete and interest in sports and the healthcare field.

What is your educational background?

I attended a six-year program at Lebanon Valley College where I received my doctor of physical therapy. I completed clinical rotations in acute, sub-acute, home, and outpatient care. During one of my two outpatient rotations, I worked at a hospital-based patient center where I saw patients with neurological conditions and limb amputations. The hospital-based outpatient clinic solidified the direction in which I wanted to take my career.

You are also an APTA Credentialed Clinical Instructor?

As we are a teaching network, MossRehab offers clinical education to future physical therapists. I completed a Clinical Instructor Education and Credentialing Program to enhance my teaching. The course provided instruction on how to communicate with students of different levels, personalities, and interests to provide them with the best learning experience.

How long have you been at MossRehab?

I came to MossRehab after earning my Doctor of Physical Therapy. I spent six years at Elkins Park and the last two years at MossRehab Lansdale. Moss offers a lot of variety in patients, which I wanted for my career. When working at Elkins Park, I treated patients with neurological disorders in a range of ages from geriatrics to teenagers. Within the inpatient setting, I worked with patients who experienced strokes, traumatic brain injuries, spinal cord injuries, and who use prosthetics. So, as a new grad, the diversity was alluring to me because I could immediately use my knowledge in practice and integrate it to become a more well-rounded clinician.

Can you explain your specialization in runners?

When I was working at MossRehab Elkins Park, we identified a need for treating people who enjoy running, whether recreationally as a form of exercise or on a competitive level. As an athlete who started running to stay in shape, I was interested in treating runners. As a group, we researched therapy for this niche population in determining the best way to treat runners. We found that cadence manipulation using video technology helps analyze gait to see the overarching variables that make a runner more efficient as there is no one right way to run. Using this approach, I can look at how a person is moving and try to make their running more efficiently based on the general principles of ground reaction forces and how feet impact the ground when running. While primarily we treat patients injured due to an injury or overtraining, some individuals may want some expert guidance on how to prepare their bodies to accept the rigors of running.

How is your experience working at MossRehab?

Starting at Elkins Park as a new grad, I collaborated with experienced physical therapists, occupational therapists, and speech therapists to get their viewpoints and ideas on treating the more challenging patients. They served as mentors in supplementing what I learned in patient care. Moving to the Lansdale outpatient center, I continued to interact with clinicians with different backgrounds. For example, my boss is an orthopedic fellow who shares his vast knowledge in that area. I've also had an opportunity to work with pelvic floor therapists, vestibular therapists, and other therapists from different clinical settings. From working with a diverse group of professionals throughout the network, I've been able to learn new skills and adapt them to patient care as needed.

Can you describe a typical day?

There isn't a typical day. That's the thing I like best - the versatility. So, I can treat someone who has a neurological condition in the morning. Maybe they just had a stroke and need a lot of physical assistance to work on the basics like standing up from a chair and walking. In the afternoon, I can work with an athlete who just had an injury. So, I can switch from working with someone learning the very basics of standing and walking to someone who is super high level in their motor skills but has to fine-tune their movement patterns and running biomechanics. Every day is a different challenge and you have to determine what is going on with the patient and the best approach.

What inspires you on the job?

I get the most inspiration from my patients, especially the ones who had a hard time. A lot of patient stories pull at your heartstrings because they've been through so much. For example, I might see a college-bound athlete with an injury who feels that their recruitment dreams are dashed. Often, when patients come to physical therapy, they are at their worse because they've just experienced some medical issue like a massive stroke and I need to help navigate them back to their full potential. I see patients that can barely walk and, through rehabilitation, help them relearn to walk and move. It's inspirational to work with people and help them achieve their goals.

How has your experience been working during the COVID pandemic?

It's challenging for everyone, no matter what the setting. On a personal level, I gave birth to my second son during the height of the first wave of the pandemic. So, as an essential worker, I was considered a high-risk for the virus due to my pregnancy. Now that I'm back at work, I have post-COVID-19 patients with prolonged hospital stays, due to strokes, cardiac problems, and pulmonary issues who are trying to return to everyday life. It's challenging to treat patients as it's unprecedented territory. Nobody knows how patients are going to respond during rehab. As no two people have the same problem, treatment is individualized. You know what you want to see in recovery in terms of mobility, oxygen levels, heart rate, etc. But, with COIVD, so much is unknown. There's no protocol to follow in therapy based on research and experience. We have to assess how to approach physical therapy based on symptoms. So, it's been a challenge in a good and bad way.

What are your interests outside of work?

I have three-year-old and seven-month-old sons that keep me busy. I like being active. My husband and I go kayaking, bike riding, hiking, exercising - just being outside and enjoying time with each other. We like going to Lake Ontario, that's like a wide beach with no sharks. I'm also an adaptive surfing volunteer with the They Will Surf Again that I first heard about at MossRehab. Every summer at the Jersey shore, people with disabilities come to the beach to experience surfboarding and riding the waves. The volunteers of the program help people get out of wheelchairs and system devices to ride an adaptive surfboard.

Last book read?

Breakthrough and Alive.

Favorite food?

Potatoes; I love French fries.

Something people don't know about you?

I was an art minor in college, and I enjoy doing art and creating. My favorite is pastel on paper and sculpture.

Your life motto?

Nothing is impossible. I've seen patients who you would never expect to walk, get up, and walk out of here. So, I like to think that nothing is impossible.