Can technology be a tool to improve the education future Physical Therapists? Dr. Michael Wong provides a solution to bridge the gap between novice and expert clinicians.
My name is Matt Villegas and I am currently a second year DPT student at Touro University of Nevada. The following is a short story about my interactions with Dr. Michael Wong, founder of the Physio U team and Orthopaedic professor at Azusa Pacific University. Also, this blog post concludes with a personal Q & A.
The American Physical Therapy Association (APTA) recently hosted an annual national conference known as CSM (Combined Sections Meeting) in San Antonio, Texas. The above photo was taken in the Exhibit Hall, where Dr. Michael Wong and the Physio U team were showcasing their apps. However, this story begins on a Wednesday evening when my Touro University Nevada classmates and I traversed the San Antonio Riverwalk in search of a restaurant and came across the Physio U team in a serendipitous manner. One of my classmates met Dr. Michael Wong while studying to become a PTA (physical therapy assistant) at Loma Linda University. They had a great professional working relationship. I heard stories about how Dr. Wong would stress the importance of reassessing the patient to make informed clinical decisions, especially when performing manual therapy techniques and joint mobilizations. Also, Dr. Wong mentioned his excitement and sense of accomplishment from completing all of his work for the event, which included three presentations.
The next day was action packed. My classmates and I rushed to the Henry B. Gonzalez Convention Center to print out our badges for the conference and attend a morning seminar by Professor Anne Shumway-Cook, author of the Motor Control: Translating Research into Clinical Practice textbook for Neurological Rehabilitation. After the seminar, we headed down to the Exhibit Hall, where numerous rows of booths were lined up with vendors, companies, universities, and practice sections (specialties within the field of Physical Therapy). I greatly appreciated how Dr. Wong rushed back from his presentation, was very engaging during our conversation, and welcomed feedback on the apps. As seen in the photo above, he signed my copy of his book on Orthopaedic Assessment. I became an avid fan when meeting the team at the booth during the previous CSM conference in Anaheim. I originally purchased the book for use as an additional quick reference while studying for my Orthopaedic Assessment courses. Dr. Wong was amazed by the story about my brachial plexus injury (nerve damage in my right arm) and experience with Pediatric PTs. He performed a shoulder external rotation lag sign test and was intrigued about obtaining a positive result consistently because I could not hold my right hand up without compensating in other muscle groups. We discussed the current situation regarding education in the Orthopaedic classroom setting and the content of the David J. Magee textbook. His main critique was that, as PTs, we should know more than special tests. Otherwise, what is next? How do you follow-up? He hammered in the point that I should assess the patient in front of me and use my clinical reasoning skills to proceed from there. After the conversation we had, I felt reinvigorated with a renewed passion and hope for the future of the profession within the field of Physical Therapy.
As promised, here is the finale with a personal Q & A.
Q: Dr. Wong, what are some of your favorite hobbies?
A: Cycling and tennis
Q: Can you tell us a little bit about your family?
A: Tina is the love of my life! I met her as a freshman in college. We started dating our senior year and got married just as I finished my orthopedic residency. We have three beautiful kids, Evan (11 y/o), Andrew (8 y/o), and Samuel (6 y/o).
Q: What is something that not many people know about you?
A: I actually started medical school after residency to become an orthopedic surgeon, but stopped because I loved PT and teaching more! I wanted to spend my career building cool things to help young clinicians learn better!
Q: What is your favorite book?
A: This might date me …but I loved all the old Tom Clancy books! Hunt for Red October, Red Storm Rising, etc.
Q: What are your favorite cycling routes?
A: Glendora mountain road and East Fork Azusa Canyon. I enjoy riding with my students, catching up, listening to their life stories, and discovering how to help them learn better. I have made some lifelong friends with my riding buddies!
Q: What is your favorite food?
A: I have a soft spot for Pad Thai, Indian pancakes that you dip in curry (Roti part) and a local Singaporean favorite called Laksa.
Q: What is your favorite music?
A: I used to really enjoy Pearl Jam! Now, I spend most of my time in calm mode …listening to Yiruma, an outstanding pianist.
Q: What is your vision for the future of PT?
A: I believe we should be the musculoskeletal doctors of the medical professions. Patients can come to us for annual check ups, where we can ensure that they know how to move for the most common daily or work/sport-related tasks.
We give them “tune ups” of commonly known weak muscles and flexibility deficits.
We can help patients achieve a meaningful movement-filled life, by being their “go-to” medical expert that believes in contributing to their lives and enhancing their wellness before they get injured!
Q: What advice do you have for Pre-PT students? And for current DPT students?
A: Pre-PT students must spend time visiting clinics and hospitals to see what we do. You have to love people in our profession!
Medicine is not getting any easier, but PT is unique in that it allows for the development of relationships with patients. We see patients 1 or 2 times per week. This is a great privilege!
For DPT students, I would say… we must be the best at what we do. Go to residency and fellowship. Make it a standard pathway for your education. Be trained by the best so that you can each become spheres of influence in your communities.
We just had another larger group of our students graduate from residency and fellowship. At least 25% of all of my graduating classes go on to residency and fellowship!
Q: What did you enjoy most about CSM 2017?
A: Actually, there were two things…
- Speaking about movement and how to examine and treat high level athletes. The response we received after each of our presentations was just tremendous. We will be working on a whole series of talks related to movement and sports/common daily activities for the next few CSMs!
- The outpouring of support from clinicians, students and faculty related to the resources we are building has been so encouraging. The apps we are building are a labor of love and it makes all of the sweat and tears that goes into making them worth it, especially when we hear about all of the support and adoptions! A lot of cool apps are in the works!
Physio U is dedicated to providing supplemental material in the form of apps to educators and students of DPT programs. The Ortho bundle of apps is based off the Clinical Practice Guidelines and organizes information in ways that facilitate better learning and interactions amongst students. The videos provide a solid visual framework for students to gain a sense of understanding in order to consider what types of modifications may be necessary for different patients. This is supplemental material and does not replace the expertise of educators. New apps are currently under development. The latest additions to the app suite include the Neurological Examination, Gait, ROM (range of motion), and MMT (manual muscle test) apps. Although there are associated costs and system requirements, periodically there are advertised sales for the iOS and Android apps. In addition, there is a web app available on desktop that includes the entire bundle of apps.
On a final note, Dr. Michael Wong graciously devotes his time towards mentoring minutes on Facebook live. Check out the social media links below to learn more about Physio U. Also, if you want the unique opportunity to virtually meet influential PTs and DPT students like Dr. Wong and myself, feel free to check out the PT Conference Facebook group that I created for us to get connected BEFORE the time crunch at CSM!
Facebook (follow to be notified when the team goes live for Mentoring Minutes)