Clinic Spotlight — Meridian

Therapeutic Associates Physical Therapy - Meridian

Therapeutic Associates

Your Meridian physical therapy provider.

When a patient begins their physical therapy journey at Therapeutic Associates Physical Therapy – Meridian, rather than zeroing in on the details surrounding their injury or condition, their therapist will focus on how it is limiting their activities and keeping them from doing the things they love.

“Every single evaluation is going to start with an interview, and I consider that to be probably the best part because the patient is able to explain how their injury or their issue is affecting their daily life and why they want it to be fixed,” said Brian Weiderman, physical therapist and clinic director. “And I really like just listening. It helps us build up their goals for their plan of care.”

In addition to understanding the impact of the injury or condition, physical therapist Kristen Dunlay added, another goal of the first visit is to learn what reproduces a patient’s pain, what caused it to begin with, and how long it has been going on.

“From there, we do an objective exam, looking at range-of-motion, strength testing and some functional tests to really see where their impairments are,” Kristen explained.

Once the PT understands what is going on with a patient, they take the time to explain it to that patient, providing education about not just the injury, but also about what rehabilitation will look like.

“The plan of care in my opinion is like a road map that we’re going to follow with the patient,” Brian said. “So, when we take into account the physical findings with the exam, what we learned in the interview and especially patient goals, then that’s going to inform our direction that we’re moving when we’re doing exercises or manual therapy or any other treatment approach.”

At Therapeutic Associates, the direction of the plan of care is established utilizing shared decision making.

“I would say that the best plan of care is more collaborative than it is anything dictated by the therapist alone. I really want the patients to feel like they have a role in building that for themselves,” Brian emphasized.

There are many benefits to this approach to patient care, from accommodating busy or unusual schedules to considering whether there is access to a gym or what type of space and equipment is available at home.

“We try to be creative, so their plan of care works for them with all of that,” Kristen said, adding that patient goals also have a major impact on how the plan is designed. “Their goals are what we’re striving for throughout the whole process, whether it’s strength, whether it’s range of motion, whether it’s a functional activity like going hiking on the weekends – we have something we are on the same page about as we move forward.”

PT Brian Weiderman assists a patient with exercise during physical therapy
PT Kristen Dunlay assists a patient with exercise during physical therapy

“The best follow-up visits are really going to still take direction from the patient,” Brian explained. “We check in, not only with some reassessment, but to see how their home exercise program is going – are they doing it, and if not, why. Maybe the exercises hurt, or they’re too hard or too easy or boring.”

Prescribed exercises can be modified at any time during the course of care, he noted, so that patients remain motivated, which leads to a more effective process and an optimal outcome.  

“There’s a lot that is available to the PT to use to help our patients get better,” Brian continued. “We do a lot of hands-on manual therapy in this clinic – myofascial release techniques, ASTYM with tool work, joint mobilizations and manipulations, and dry needling, which we get to do here in Idaho.”

physical therapist performs manual therapy on a patient

Dry needling uses filament needles to stimulate a release in tight muscles or to help improve the recruitment of muscles.

“I hesitate to say that it’s kind of magic, but sometimes it feels kind of like magic because it really is very helpful for our patients to receive that treatment,” Brian shared.

Helping patients overcome pain, recover from an injury, rehabilitate after surgery, improve their balance, strength, and mobility, or increase their athletic performance is at the heart of what inspires the clinic’s staff, from the physical therapists to the aides and exercise specialists to the front desk teammates. Each is invested in their patients, and each plays a part in their stories.

“The whole care team plays a huge role from the first moment a patient walks through the door,” Kristen said. “We try to do a really good job of keeping everyone on the same page, of making sure everyone is aware of the patient’s plan of care and what their goals are so the patient is well taken care of whether it’s at the front desk, with the PT or with the exercise specialist.”

It’s also nice, she added, to have multiple perspectives on patients as different team members build relationships with them. From ideas and feedback about how treatment is progressing to insight into what a patient likes to do for fun, collaboration between the care team enhances the patient experience.

In Meridian, much of the population is extremely active – gardening, hiking, biking, skiing – which means it is important for them to have access to high-quality physical therapy.

“It’s neat to be able to have patients come in and sometimes we spend way too long talking about the mountain bike trails that we’ve been out riding or the rock climbing that we’ve done or what a good day it was skiing on Bogus Basin, you know. And so, it’s really fun to have patients come in that are excited to get back into doing those things,” Brian said.

two bike riders prepare to descend a trail into the forest near sunset

“One of the cool things about having been here for more than 10 years now is seeing this community just grow all around us. In fact, from these windows in this clinic, you can see what used to be farm fields are now big neighborhoods full of people. So, it’s been great to be able to serve this growing community,” Brian reflected.

As Meridian grows and families move into the Treasure Valley area, the opportunity to work with student-athletes also increases.

“I’ve been able to work a lot with youth dancers and it’s fun to see them get better from their injuries,” Brian said. “I’ve had some go on to win national competitions and that is really neat to see.”

Others moving into the region are retirees, or soon to be retired.

“As we know, as we get older, there’s some issues that go on with injury and pain. And so, it’s been fun to be able to serve that population as well.”

PT Kristen Dunlay at Meridian Physical Therapy walks a patient through their discharge instructions on graduation day

Whether they’re a student-athlete striving to be at the top of their game or a loving grandparent cherishing playtime with the grandkids or anyone in between, when a patient finishes their physical therapy at Therapeutic Associates in Meridian, the hope is that they walk out the door with confidence and a good understanding of what their experience in PT was.

“I hope they’re feeling more hopeful about getting out and doing the things they want to be doing,” Brian said. “My other hope, and I say this to all my patients, is I hope I teach myself out of a job – and what I really mean by that is that when a patient leaves, they have a toolbox and feel the self-efficacy that they can go out and do these things and even if there’s more pain or they hurt themselves again, they are going to grab those tools and work through it.”

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