PT Spotlight — Getting to Know Andrew Carlson

Therapeutic Associates

As practice manager and physical therapist at Therapeutic Associates Physical Therapy – Canby, Andrew Carlson is committed to the community and passionate about patient care. Outside of the clinic, though he doesn’t necessarily consider himself someone who would make it if he had to depend on his own survival skills, the young family man isn’t just surviving, he’s thriving. Dedicated to his wife and daughter, Andrew embraces all the joys life at home brings.

Q&A with Andrew Carlson

Q: What's your favorite way to spend a day off?

My favorite way to spend a day off looks like this: I wake up around 7. My daughter and I watched the show Cocomelon for about 1/2 hour to an hour while I sip some coffee. I ease my way into some type of exercise, whether that’s a run or I’m lifting or playing tennis with friends. I’ll get back around lunchtime … eat, nap – at least an hour nap otherwise it’s a waste of time. Then I will try to be a little bit productive in my house with my wife – maybe I’ll do some yard work. Then it’s all about dinner — prepping dinner, planning dinner, cooking dinner. I’m not a great cook, I just enjoy the process of it. Then it’s pretty chill – I like to play with my daughter Avery before bed and then do the whole Netflix thing and relax with my wife …. That’s option A. Option B is probably just golfing with my friends all day. So, those are my two favorite days and they’re not too interesting, but it’s just honest.

Q: Netflix? Okay, so what’s your favorite show you've ever binge-watched?

There are two shows that are my favorites – they’re tied, they’re the two best shows, I don’t know if it’s really a discussion: it’s Game of Thrones and Breaking Bad, and so I’m waiting for something else to rival those two. But those are probably the two shows I’ve been most invested in in my life. I don’t know what it was … it was the dragons on Game of Thrones and with Breaking Bad I liked the idea of a guy who is willing to do anything to survive and feed his family and even though I don’t support anything he was doing, it was wild to see it slowly unravel for him.

Q: Sword fighters & dragon slayers ... teachers - with so many career options, what inspired you to pursue a career as a PT?

I was an athlete. I got hurt often and so I was in and out of physical therapy my entire high school and college career. I played football in college. I broke my leg; I broke my arm. So, I had a lot of interactions with physical therapist as they were able to get me back into the shape I needed to be in and get me out of pain. I found that I liked my physical therapist. We had a different type of interaction that I had with my other health care providers, and I wanted to go back and be a patient there. So why not change it into making my profession? So, I went to Pacific Lutheran up in Tacoma and I majored in biology and just kind of went for it and so here I am today.

Q: What do you love about being a physical therapist?

What I love about being a PT is the ability to frequently interact with my patients. You get to see them multiple times a week for a significant amount of time, so only so much of that time can be filled with patient education, exercise interventions and progression. A lot of that’s going to just be conversation, catching up on the latest TV show, figuring out what they’re doing on the weekend and getting to know how they interact with their family, what worries them, what stresses them out. We really form kind of deep relationships, so it gets to a point where I’m almost sad to see people leave at the end of their plan of care and of course I don’t want them to get injured again, but I just hope they’ll still stop by.

physical therapist explains a spinal condition to a patient
PT Andrew Carlson high five with patient
PT Andrew Carlson works with patient

Q: You're clearly passionate about what you do as a PT. What are your passion projects outside of work?

Great question! So, my passion projects are all kind of dad vibe now. Like, I become a total dad and it happened immediately when my daughter was born. 

I like grilling – I got a smoker. I don’t even really like meats that much, I just like the process of it. I like trying new recipes and cooking. Also, I find myself in my garage, just like fumbling with stuff like my dad used to do. 

Oh, I am trying to get better at golf. I’d love to be able to play par golf, but I’m stuck at bogey golf right now. 

And then, just spending time with my daughter Avery and watching her grow is definitely the most important passion project.

Andrew Carlson and wife and daughter

Q: What is your favorite sport or activity to play/do?

My favorite sport to play is probably basketball. I played more football, but the idea of putting on pads and like any type of collision is something I want to avoid at all costs … I am injured just thinking about that! I like playing golf. I am not good at golf either, but I have a very good time doing it. Tennis, skiing, I like basically anything that has an aspect of competition even though I not particularly amazing at any of those things. I also do a lot of running.

Q: What's your favorite stress buster?

Stress Buster is pretty easy – I find either a podcast or some type of music playlist that I’m in the mood for and I will go on a long run — long, slow, steady. I usually return feeling much better and like enormous amounts of sweat have been produced. Just finding a way to sweat – it always helps.

Q: If you could time travel, would you go back or forward in time?

I don’t know if I’d want to know or could handle what’s to come in the future, so I think I would definitely go into the past. I can’t go too far back in the past though because I’m not confident that I would be able to support myself in the environment. I’m not really good at making fires. I can’t hunt, maybe I can fish, but if I go too far back and I have to do any type of survival stuff, I’d probably die. So … probably the 19th century, maybe the ‘50s? The rockin’ ‘50s seem like they’d be fun. I could wear like a leather jacket and grease my hair!

Q: Speaking of survival stuff, if you were going to be a contestant on Survivor what would your one "luxury item" be that you take with you?

Gosh unfortunately if I’m being honest, if it’s my luxury item and I’m not trying to help the tribe, I’m going to bring some type of snuggie pillow thing because I need my sleep. So, I’m going to find something to help me get that sleep so I can be competitive. If I could take a mattress, I’d take a mattress.

Q: Maybe you're not bringing a lot to the Survivor tribe, but you bring a lot to Therapeutic Associates. What is the most important personal attribute that you bring to your job as a PT?

A positive attitude and trying to always be optimistic. There are so many times when patients come in and they’ve just been through it, and I think trying to spin even those really tough situations and look for ways that we can move through the storm can be really helpful. And then also just curiosity – curiosity about people and curiosity about how we can constantly improve and innovate.

Q: What do you wish everyone knew about what physical therapy is?

I wish that everybody knew that physical therapy can and should be much more holistic than they may imagine. Pain is so complex, and we now know that it’s multifactorial. There are so many different factors – modifiable and non-modifiable – that contribute to a person’s pain experience. Unless it’s an acute injury that just occurred, we’re very rarely only interested in that injury or that joint or that tissue area. We want to know: How are you sleeping? How are you managing your stress? What is home life like? What other things do you like to do or what are you discouraged by that’s led you to come into our clinic. So, by getting this information we can also not only impact the patient, but we can really have an effect on how they view their health care overall and so that’s what I hope we can do in our clinic.

We look forward to being a part of your healthcare team.

At Therapeutic Associates in Canby we treat the full spectrum of patients from young children to high-school-aged athletes and college athletes to weekend warriors and adults who are simply dealing with aches and pains from their 9-to-5. We also really value the treatment we can offer for older adults who are navigating the age-related pains that naturally come.

snowy adventure with toddler

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