By Deb Matsuura

NORTHEASTERN STUDENTS REFLECT ON COOP PROGRAM IN HAWAII

Emily W. Describes Coop Experience as "Transformative"

If I had to describe my experience working at Fukuji and Lum Physical Therapy, it would be: transformative. When deciding where to co-op, I was so nervous about traveling so far from home that I almost did not accept the offer. However, after spending 6 months at Fukuji and Lum I can honestly say that this experience has been the highlight of my life. It allowed me to gain a new perspective on not only physical therapy but also on myself and how I will choose to live going forward.

One of Fukuji and Lum’s mission statements is “to love and grow, as a family.” I find that the word family is often tossed around in flyers and ads without much significance, but at this clinic, they truly mean it. Before my trip, I was worried that I would be homesick living so far from my family and friends. However, this was never a problem because I had all the support and love that I needed right here. My co-workers went out of their way to make sure that we were adjusting well, even welcoming us into their homes for Thanksgiving and Christmas.

From the moment I arrived, I could tell that this clinic is an ‘Ohana in which people deeply care about one another, celebrating each other’s victories and being there as a support system during more difficult times. This was reflected both in the clinic with my co-workers as well as at home with my roommates. I did not know any of the other Northeastern co-op students before coming, but after living together, exploring the island, and sharing our thoughts and experiences with each other we left feeling as close as sisters. I feel so supported in life knowing that no matter where I end up, I will always have the other co-ops by my side as well as an entire group of therapists in Hawaii who will have my back and be there to give me advice when I need it.

In addition to welcoming me into their family, my mentors at F&L also had a significant impact on how I view the profession and my belief about what physical therapy is. They helped show me how to have a holistic approach and that PT is about treating the patient and not the injury. One of the therapists I worked with would ask every patient he met, “what do you love to do” or “what is your passion.” He then made it his mission to adapt the patient’s treatment to help meet individualized goals and ensure that they could get back to doing the activities that fuel their spirit and make them who they are.

At Fukuji and Lum, the therapists do everything in their power to make each patient feel valuable and give them the time and attention that they need. After talking with friends back home, I realized this is not always the case and is something that makes F&L special. I had one patient who would often come into the clinic feeling gloomy and down. After talking throughout the session while creating a positive and encouraging atmosphere, she would leave the clinic with her head held high and a smile on her face. Just knowing that we could help turn someone’s day around and make them feel better both physically and emotionally was incredibly moving and something that I did not realize was part of the job.

Additionally, the therapists I worked with were never narrow sighted and did not limit their attention to the exact location of the problem. Instead they helped me understand how everything in the body is connected and that sometimes you need to strengthen or re-align a different part of the body in order to address the source of pain/injury and help the individual return to their full functioning self.

One of the most surprising things that I did not expect to learn on co-op was how to be myself in a clinical setting. When professors discuss professionalism in class, it often makes it seem as if you have to act almost robotic and very serious in clinical settings. However,

the nurturing relationships that I formed with my co-workers allowed me to feel comfortable opening up and being myself in the clinic. I realized that I could still have a fun and goofy personality while remaining professional and gaining respect from patients. I think that letting down the walls that I had put up actually enabled me to become closer with my patients and form more genuine and trusting bonds, which can really alter how a patient responds to therapy.

One of the highlights of my experience inside the clinic was getting to form close bonds with some of my patients. One patient in particular was an elderly woman who even changed her schedule to make sure that she could come in on days that I would be working. Every week, we would spend the session talking about the different things going on in each other’s lives while going through various exercises. On my last day of co-op, the patient held my hand and looked me in the eyes as she thanked me for helping her get stronger because now she was able to leave the house and go to activities with her family. In that moment, I could feel how sincere the patient was and how much of a difference that therapy made in her life, which was by far one of the most rewarding experiences I’ve ever had.

The best part of my experience outside of the clinic was getting to explore the island with my roommates. Every weekend we got to go on a new adventure, whether it was finding a new beach, learning to surf, experiencing a different part of Hawaiian culture/ history, or going on a hike. No matter what we did, the scenery was breathtaking and unlike anything else I had ever seen before. This helped me realize that there are so many opportunities and adventures in any place that you live if you make the effort to find them. Immersing myself in the culture and making the effort to explore and find so many new and exciting things changed my mindset of how I want to spend my time in life. I no longer want to waste so much time sitting around inside. I now know that I want to push myself to get out and discover different events and opportunities around me in any place that I live in order to get the most out of life.

The main takeaway that I have from this experience that is unique to co-oping at Fukuji and Lum is practicing physical therapy with the aloha spirit. This spirit is everywhere at the clinic, both within those working there as well as the patients. This positive and loving atmosphere pushed everyone to grow together which I believe leads to better patient outcomes. This is something that I will hold dear to my heart and carry with me as I try to live and breath aloha no matter what clinic I work in.

By Deb Matsuura

Aloha Emily!

Emily, our second Co-op this semester, travels back and forth over the mountain from the Kailua to the Honolulu Clinic every week. She shares a little about herself and her experience so far being on the island.

I am a 3rd year physical therapy major at Northeastern University in Boston. I grew up just outside Philadelphia where I attended Methacton High School.

My greatest influence in life has always been my mom. She is such a kind-hearted person who always puts the needs of others before herself. She is a pediatric physical therapist and her endless passion and love for the job is what first inspired me to pursue physical therapy. My family also runs a therapeutic horseback riding program, which I have volunteered for ever since I was a kid. This experience teaching kid’s exercises and seeing the impact that physical therapy can have on a person’s life reaffirmed my desire to enter this profession. I hope that my exposure to using various therapeutic methods with different types of patients while on co-op will give me a better idea of what type of physical therapy I want to specialize in. I also love teaching, so someday I would like to become an instructor for courses and train other therapists skills that they can use to help their patients.

I knew that I wanted to do my co-op at Fukuji and Lum after having coffee with some of the previous co-ops. They emphasized how the clinic values forming relationships with patients, using a holistic approach to patient care, and creating a positive atmosphere to make physical therapy fun. This resonated with the type of therapist that I aspire to be and was something that I felt I would not find in any of the clinics in Boston. In addition to everything that Fukuji and Lum had to offer, the previous co-ops also talked a lot about the aloha spirit and relaxed nature of people living in Hawaii. I want to grow as a person while on co-op and I hope that living in this atmosphere for 6 months will help me learn to slow down, live in the moment, and take time to appreciate the people and events going on around me.

My experience here thus far has been incredible. Everyone at the clinic has been so welcoming and helpful as I get settled in. The way that people all treat each other like family here has made it very easy to feel at home. The views everywhere are unlike anything I’ve ever seen before and I love how every weekend there is always something new and exciting to do. It has also been amazing to try some of the local foods the island has to offer. The strangest thing I’ve eaten so far was poi. It’s color and texture made it so different from anything I’ve eaten before, but I ended up really liking it! While I’m here, I can’t wait to go on as many hikes and explore as many beaches as possible. I would also love to go skydiving, ziplining, camping, kayak to the Mokes, snorkel, do yoga on the beach, and learn to surf.

By Deb Matsuura

2018 Co-ops Are Here!

Our 2018 Co-ops from Northeastern University have been with us for the past 3 months now. We have 6 PT students, the most we ever had in one semester. They are learning and working at our various clinics in Kailua, Kaneohe and Honolulu. Each student wrote a quick blog to introduce themselves, tell us a little about why they chose to study Physical Therapy and share their experiences so far since arriving in Hawaii.

Ryan & Scott

 Ryan is working at our Honolulu clinic and Kokokahi pool.

What drew you to physical therapy? A whim! After receiving my acceptance into NEU, I began looking more into their programs offered to see which interested me most. I stumbled upon the Doctorate of Physical Therapy program and thought it seemed interesting and something I could see myself doing. After my first co-op my third year, I was hooked!

Why did you want to do your co-op in Hawaii? Growing up on the west coast, I became pretty accustomed to living in warm weather year-round. After spending the past three and a half years in Boston (and in the frigid northeast winters), I felt it was time to give my mind and body the break it needed. I really enjoy traveling and trying new things so coming to Hawaii seemed like the perfect opportunity to do just that. 

[one_half]What has been your experience like so far? Excellent! Everyone at all of the clinics has been incredibly kind and inviting. I’ve been loving the warm weather and going out-and-about every weekend. These first few weeks have me extremely excited for the months to come! 

What’s the strangest thing that you’ve eaten since arriving? Poi! interesting texture and flavor, but not bad! I loved the way it slid down my throat! nice and gooey!

What is on your to do list while here? While here I really want to go skydiving! I also plan on running a half marathon in April and getting in better shape. I also want to be able to touch my toes by the end of June. 

What kind of therapist do you hope to be? As of now, I am unsure exactly what kind of physical therapist I want to be. I hope to one day work in an outpatient setting with a diverse patient population. I am hoping that my time here at F&L will help me narrow down my search and help me decide what I like and do not like. 

   

Who is your greatest influence in your life? The greatest influence I have in my life has been my incredibly caring mother. Growing up, there was not a thing she wouldn’t do to help me better myself and succeed. Her nurturing personality and abounding love motivates me everyday to be the best person I can be. 

 

 Scott works mainly at our Honolulu Clinic.

What I love about PT is the ability to teach individuals about how to safely and efficiently navigate themselves through their environments. With some MD appointments you just go in and out of the appointment. With PT you get to build a relationship with individuals as you guide them through their exercises and provide them with modalities.

I applied to do a Co-op in Hawaii because I’ve always wanted to experience living somewhere far far far away from home. Plus, the beauty that is everywhere on this island and all the stories and adventures I heard about Hawaii made me convinced I had to do my co-op here!

My experience in Hawaii so far has been UNREAL!!! It’s good to be better acquainted with the island now. I love being able to spend my free time on the beach or hiking. All my friends back home are freezing right now and I couldn’t be happier in the warmth! I hurt my leg the day of the big 55 foot waves on the North shore which is a good story I guess.

Have I eaten anything weird since I’ve arrived in the islands? Ryan cooked a medley of peppers and rice and sausage for him and me one night… it was a lot to stomach…. no but really I had never had poke until coming here, and ever since my first taste of kimchee tako I’ve fallen in love!

To do list: Learn how to surf! Hike every mountain I can and do some sunrise hikes! Learn more about Hawaiian culture! Go to the beach and chiiiiiiiilllllll!

   
I want to be a therapist that can analyze impairments and dysfunctions methodically and critically. More so than that, I also want to be the type of therapist that is able to listen and empathize with my patients fully, provide answers to their questions, and help guide them on their journey of rehab.

My greatest influence would have to be my dad. People tell me a lot that I act just like him. He taught me the importance of being easy going and positive while also recognizing when it’s time to be serious and focus. He also taught me a great deal about confidence and determination. Because of him, when I set my eyes on a goal, it’s pretty impossible to tear me away from it until I achieve it. I wouldn’t be the student, future therapist, or person I am today if it were not for him.
By Deb Matsuura

Special Thanks to Fukuji & Lum

Entering the New Year, I look back at my 2017 accomplishments. As many others strive for when creating their list of resolutions, I had hoped for positive change and personal growth. With the bittersweet end to my time in Hawaii, I reflect on how it has helped me to reach my goals. Surrounded by clear blue waters, soaring mountain ranges, and a unique Ohana; I had the opportunity to take a step away from the hustle of Boston and learn more about myself and the therapist I want to be one day.

After receiving word of my position in Hawaii, I was both excited and nervous for this new adventure. Weeks leading up to my arrival I had many friends and family, some more jealous than others, sending me good wishes on this next chapter in my life.

[two_third] Previous co-ops spoke so highly of their coworkers and experiences, so I knew I would be greeted with open arms. This made leaving home and coming to an unfamiliar place a little less daunting.

Within hours of landing, I was receiving welcome hugs from people I had never met – I already felt a part of the Ohana. With any new job, the first few months are a transition period. Learning to embody the values of a company and collaborate closely with colleagues you know little about, can be difficult. Although it was overwhelming at times and my supervisors received many of my dumbfounded looks, I felt every coworker I encountered was willing and able to help me make this transition seamless.

I am grateful to have worked with so many accomplished and intelligent therapists. I learned that each therapist has something different to bring to the table, whether it be a skill or a thought process. I watched as they worked as a team of many backgrounds to provide the best care possible for our patients. Looking back at my experiences with each therapist, I have confirmed that I want to be a physical therapist. I learned something from each and every one of them that I will someday have the opportunity to apply in my practice.

I also had the chance to work closely with many determined, caring patients, who constantly embodied the aloha spirit. From my patients I learned the power of perseverance. Watching them maintain determination over the course of a few weeks, a few months, or even the entirety of my time at F&L to reach their goals, was an enlightening experience. I truly realized the importance of teamwork in this field, where healthcare providers should work closely with their patients. This unique team is what makes our jobs worth it each and every day.

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Having the opportunity to work in almost all of the clinics, it opened my eyes to how closely the company works in order to carry out F&L’s mission and values in every location. Rather than each being their own separate entity, the clinics worked together to be one, united team. During my 6 months, I also had the unique chance to experience the company go through big changes. One of which, was seeing lots of hard work go into creating a new logo that embodies all that the company is. With such a distinctive model and outlook on physical therapy, F&L stands out and makes me hopeful for further growth in the PT world.

[one_half] Aside from building many close relationships and a strong sense of work identity, I also had the opportunity to explore Oahu, and remind myself to take some time to enjoy the little moments in life. For an island that is only 40 miles long and 30 miles wide, I never thought there would be so much to do. As a co-op group we were able to explore the wonders of Hawaii together, truly making the most of our weekends. From sliding down steep, muddy mountains on my okole (yay Hawaiian words) to maneuvering the paddle out to the mokes, we made endless memories together that I will hold onto for the rest of my life.

A special thank you to Liz, Stevie, Matt and Kyle, my Hawaii family, for making the better half of my 2017, even better. I learned from you guys and our many adventures to take a step back and take in the moment. A little rest and relaxation never hurts.

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From my amazing patients to the special company of Fukuji&Lum, I thank you all for this incredible experience. I will miss each and every one of you very much, and I hope to see you someday soon.

Mahalo Nui Loa,

Grace Taylor

By Deb Matsuura

New Semester, New Co-ops!

Fukuji & Lum’s receives a handful of Northeastern University physical therapy students every semester. For spring semester 2017, we just said mahalo and good-bye to five awesome, enthusiastic and hard-working students who we know will make a great impact in the physical therapy world. We wish them the best!!

This July we welcomed five new students who will be with us till December. We look forward to teaching and nurturing them as well as sharing our island spirit and company culture, which they will be able to take back with them to Boston.

You’ve just met Matt in our previous blog, now here’s Kyle and Grace with a few words about themselves and why chose to study physical therapy.

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 Kyle’s Blog

What school did you attend in high school and what’s your current college?
I attended Andover High School in Massachusetts. I now go to Northeastern University in Boston.

What drew you to physical therapy? 
There have been a few things that have drawn me into the field of physical therapy. In high school I was a rower and our coach focused hundreds of hours on moving correctly and power application. This was the start of my fascination with the body, how it moves, and the quest to perfect movement in sport. From there, I would research different body parts and how to exercise them. Fast forward a few years to 2015 when I injured my shoulder, I researched what I thought was wrong and how to rehab it. The process of troubleshooting the injury and trying to rehab it was really exciting for me. As exciting as it was, it didn’t work so well, so after a few weeks I went to a real PT. When going myself, I enjoyed the atmosphere and the role of a PT in a patient’s recovery. It was a relaxed environment where everyone would chat and joke and I could see myself working in something similar.

Why did you want to do your co-op in Hawaii?
I used to work with a youth development program called Andover Youth Services and it was a huge influence in my life. One of the most significant values we lived and encouraged in the young people was to get out of your comfort zone. When looking for co-ops I wanted to stay consistent with my values so I wanted to go somewhere that would challenge me and give me a new experience. I’ve found that forcing myself uncomfortable situations is when I learn the most.

What has been your experience like so far?
After 3 weeks on this beautiful island I’m confident coming here was the right decision. Working in Honolulu, I’m exposed to a demographic I wouldn’t otherwise be if I was working in Boston. The clientele is typically on the older side and many are of Asian descent. Occasionally I’m tasked with working with someone who speaks no English. This has been hard for me so far, but it is challenging me to improve my visual cues and other nonverbal communication.

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What’s the strangest thing that you’ve eaten since arriving?Being here for about a month I haven’t had a ton of time to really venture into strange cuisine. I’ve tried some local foods like poke and I’m a big fan of the Hawaiian marinade at Fresh Catch. Also our host family makes ahi and ono jerky which is a little unusual. Other than that I think I’ve eaten pretty similarly to back in Boston.

What is on your to do list while here?
I’m a little limited with having shoulder surgery a few months ago but I’d like to hike, surf, explore the islands, jump off some cliffs, and eat some more exotic food.

What kind of therapist do you hope to be?
Of course I want to be the best therapist there can be. I want to be a therapist who deeply understands each treatment and why it works. I want to be up to date with new technologies and methods of treatment to give my patients the most efficacious therapy they can get. I want to learn how to garner my patient’s imagination of who they can become and use it to motivate them to work towards their goals.

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Who is your greatest influence in your life?
I’d be lying to say anyone influenced me more than my parents. Simply living with them for the greater part of 20 years I’ve learned an incredible amount. From my dad I’ve learned how to be industrious and how to learn. From my mom I learned how to listen and be empathetic. These traits among others have been super beneficial in my journey through life.

Grace’s Blog

What school did you attend in high school and what’s your current college?
I attended Trinity College School in Toronto, Canada. I am now a student at Northeastern University in Boston, Massachusetts.

What drew you to physical therapy? Ever since I was young I knew I was interested in a helping profession. I was interested in a variety of positions such as dentistry, chiropractic care, and Occupational Therapy. I had the opportunity to shadow a few physical therapists and fell in love with the profession. Each and every day I find myself loving it more and more.

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Why did you want to do your co-op in Hawaii?
There are many reasons why I was interested in doing my co-op in Hawaii. I have always enjoyed traveling and learning more about the world around me, and this seemed like the perfect opportunity. During this last semester, we have also had many discussions on cultural differences and the impacts it can have on physical therapy and other forms of care. This co-op seemed unique in its ability to introduce me to this learning curve. Lastly, Fukuji & Lum has a focus on family culture. I am very close with my family back home, so I was naturally drawn to F&Ls values and overall mission and purpose.

What has been your experience like so far?
Traveling to a new place can sometimes be daunting and with it comes a lot of unknowns. From the get-go I felt nothing but kindness and support through the transition. It’s like a home away from home. I get along so well with the other co-op students and my new coworkers, and I am so excited to see what adventures this journey takes us all on.

What’s the strangest thing that you’ve eaten since arriving?
We haven’t really explored eating strange things yet. We have tried poke a few times now, and I have yet to be disappointed! Giovanni’s shrimp trunk was also delicious, highly recommend! I’m hoping to try lots of new foods, especially spam musubi, acai bowls, and poi. I’m also looking forward to finding the best shaved ice around!

What is on your to do list while here?
I mainly want to explore the island. I want to go on lots of different hikes and learn about the history of the island and Hawaii as a whole. I am also excited to get to know more about Hawaiian culture by exploring things like a Luau, hula dancing and listening to Hawaiian music. I have been working on Hawaiian Pidgin and I am trying to learn a new word every day. I’m hoping I’ll be able to take some of it back and confuse my friends back home!

What kind of therapist do you hope to be?
Physical therapy can be a very rewarding job, because we have the opportunity to help patients reach their personal goals. I think the relationship between therapist and patient is what you choose to make it, and I hope to be a motivational and supporting factor in my patients’ lives. If I am able to positively impact a number of my patients during my time as a therapist I will feel rewarded.

Who is your greatest influence in your life?
My greatest influence in my life is my older brother Riley. He is my built in best friend and I look up to him in many ways. He pushed me to embrace this opportunity and for that I’m grateful. I can’t wait to continue to grow up and find our way in life together.

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By Deb Matsuura

Aloha Tim!

Last, but not least, we would like to introduce Tim, our final Co-op for this spring semester.

Aloha! I have the awesome opportunity of being one of the five Northeastern Co-ops making Fukuji and Lum home for the next six months. Here is a little about myself and how I got here. Instead of doing Northeastern’s six year PT program, I joined at their half way point after completing my undergrad at the University of New England earning my degree in Applied Exercise Science.

I first learned about Fukuji and Lum when Mark came to talk to the PT students in Boston. His talk about being part of the F&L Ohana is what drew me to this site and showed its character. A couple of months later I find myself fortunate enough to start my journey here.

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I was lucky enough to have parents that love traveling and have instilled that drive in me. They showed me the importance of learning about new cultures in order to understand and respect everyone’s way of life. Hawaii is no different and has shown to be full of rich history and traditions.

I am learning food is a huge part of Hawaiian life and that is something we have in common! Luckily I have not had anything too challenging cross my plate yet on my trip. To facilitate my exploring I do rely heavily on recommendations: hurricane popcorn and poke are quickly turning into some all time favorites. So far I have been told poi and lau lau are some of the things I need to try before I leave. Most surprising for me was how good shaved ice tasted, which tasted much more flavorful than I had expected.

Some things I would like to do while I am here are learn how to surf and learn how to play the ukulele (I already started the latter). The list of hikes, viewpoints and places to visit literally goes on for pages and is far too long for this post. More in a few weeks!  IMG_2155

Guest Blogger: Tim L.

By Deb Matsuura

Jamie & Tiffany

Throughout the ten years that Fukuji & Lum has been partners with Northeastern University, there have been a total of 35 PT students come to the islands to work for our company. As we grow as an organization, the need for more Co-op students increases. This semester we are so fortunate to have five students, Tim, Dan, Rose, Tiffany and Jamie. We already introduced Dan and now would like you to meet Jamie and Tiffany.

Jamie is from Rhode Island and is currently a fourth-year in the physical therapy program at Northeastern University in Boston.

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What drew you to physical therapy? 
I knew that I wanted to do something in the health field, but I wasn’t sure specifically what I wanted to go into. As I explored my options, PT seemed like a great profession! I went to physical therapy for a sports injury, which initially sparked my interest. I ended up working at a clinic near my house in high school and it really solidified that I was heading in the right direction.

Why did you want to do your co-op in Hawaii?
I went to Maui with my family two years ago and coming back to Hawaii  has always been in the back of my mind. I love the ocean and so being in a place with such beautiful beaches for 6 months was an opportunity I couldn’t pass up. Also escaping the winter in Boston isn’t too bad.

What has been your experience like so far?
I’ve been having a great time in Hawaii so far, the time is flying by though! We have done some great hikes and eaten a lot of food, both of which I’ve really enjoyed. Everyone here is so welcoming, both the staff and patients are so friendly and it has really made such a positive impact on my experience here.

What’s the strangest thing that you’ve eaten since arriving?
I had a pork lau lau which was very different from what I typically eat. Also spam musubi, which was my first spam experience. I was pleasantly surprised by the spam!

What is on your to do list while here?
My to do list is constantly growing! I just want to keep hiking, going to new beaches and eating endless amounts of food. I also think it would be awesome to learn to surf and to travel to the Big Island.

What are your outside interests?
I like to run and eat! I’m also a huge fan of anything involving animals, especially dogs.

What kind of therapist do you hope to be?
I want to be open minded as therapist and be supportive and effective in helping patients reach their goals. I want to continue learning the best ways to treat patients throughout my career.

Who is your greatest influence in your life?
My family is probably the biggest influence on my life. Family is very important to me and my family has continued to be so supportive of me in whatever I do. I wouldn’t be the person I am today if it weren’t for them.

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Let’s meet Tiffany!

Tiffany attended Holliston High School in Massachusetts and is currently at Northeastern University in Boston.

What drew you to physical therapy?
I have always wanted to work within the medical profession, but wanted to find a path that incorporated athletics. Physical therapy perfectly combines healthcare and athletics in order to help people return to their daily life. It is a profession that allowed me to spend time with patients and make a tangible impact on their lives.

Why did you want to do your co-op in Hawaii?
I have spent my whole life in Massachusetts and have not been far from family. Traveling across the country and part of the pacific will definitely challenge my independence and adaptability. I wanted to challenge myself and experience a new part of the world. Learning about physical therapy here really emphasizes the compassion and empathy of the Hawaiian culture.

What’s the strangest thing that you’ve eaten since arriving?I have not eaten a lot of strange things, but my favorite thing to eat is poke! I love that I can go into the seafood section of Foodland and grab a poke bowl! I look forward to trying poi at a luau!

What is on your to do list while here?
I definitely want to try surfing, complete more hikes like three peaks and coco head! I recently heard of a site that has horseback riding, so I want to try that too! There are so many things that I want to do, and everyday the list keeps growing!

What are your outside interests?
I love swimming and it has been great being able to swim in the ocean! Recently, I started helping out at the pool and love that I get to combine PT with aquatics! I also love languages and a lot of people have been teaching me some Hawaiian! Recently, I learned that toes are called mana mana wawae!

What kind of therapist do you hope to be?
I want to be a therapist that makes my patients laugh, feel comfortable and well cared for. Everyone at Fukuji and Lum has definitely set a great example for me to follow. They are all so passionate about the field and care so deeply about each patient!

Who is your greatest influence in your life?
I have met many inspirational and wonderful people in my life. However, my parents have given me everything I need to pursue my ambitions. Their support and love has helped me get to where I am today.

By Deb Matsuura

HOW IS YOUR POSTURE?

Tami Patrick, a Physical Therapy student from Andrews University spent 8 weeks with our therapists in the Kailua clinic learning and working with patients in an orthopedic outpatient setting. While with us, she gave an inservice to the staff on POSTURE. Her presentation definitely reminded us to sit properly and stand correctly as we go about our daily activities.

What is Posture?

  • Posture: a position of a person’s body when standing or sitting.

Who cares?

  • Good posture contributes to good appearance; the person with good posture projects poise, confidence, and dignity.
  • The discs between the spinal segments become less resilient and give in more readily to external forces, such as gravity and body weight. 45 degrees of cervical flexion doubles the weight your neck has to carry!
  • Muscles become less flexible and weaker.
  • In addition, poor posture can affect the position and function of your vital organs, particularly those in the abdominal region. You can imagine as you compress your organs they lose blood flow slowly but over time will give you some organ dysfunction. Constipation anyone?

Why am I like this??

  • Ligaments: We hang out on our ligaments when our muscles get tired, putting us in a “slouched” position.
  • Lifestyles usually become more sedentary. Sitting at work or school for long periods of time shortens various muscles, which results in the body being pulled into poor postural positions, and stretches and weakens other muscles, which allows the body to slump.

What is ideal posture?

  • Ideal standing plumb line posture: bisects the ear, bisects the shoulder joint, runs down the bodies of the lumbar vertebrae, bisects the greater trochanter of the femur, runs just behind the center of the knee, runs just in front of the center of the ankle.
  • In this alignment the abdominal and hip extensors and the lumbar and hip flexor muscles are in perfect opposition to one another. The former group tilting the pelvis posteriorly (to the back) and the latter tilting it anteriorly (to the the front) resulting in a neutral pelvic position. According to Kendall and Kendall, muscles are most relaxed and less contracted in the ideal posture.

Exercises
Standing:

  • Stand with back against a wall, heels about 3” from the wall and feet about 6” apart weight evenly distributed.
  • Place arms at sides, palms forward
  • Keep ankles straight and knees facing forward
  • Keep low back close to the wall
  • Straighten the upper back, lifting the chest and bringing shoulders back against the wall
  • Bring head back to touch the wall while keeping the chin tucked in
  • Pull up and in with the muscles in the lower abdomen, trying to flatten the abdomen
  • Hold for 10 seconds breathing normally
  • Relax and repeat 3 to 4 times
  • Perform 3 times a day for optimum results

posture
Sitting:

  • Sit in a straight back armless chair, with both feet flat on the floor and back resting against the chair
  • Place arms at your sides, palms forward
  • Straighten the upper back, lifting the chest
  • Bring shoulders back against the chair
  • Hold the head erect
  • Pull up and in with the muscles in the lower abdomen, trying to flatten the abdomen
  • Hold position for about 10 seconds, breathing normally and keeping the rest of the body relaxed
  • Relax your abdominal muscles and repeat 3 to 4 times
  • Repeat entire exercise at least 3 times a day

sitting-posture

Tips

  • Sit with back firmly against chair, with chair low enough so feet are on the floor with knees slightly higher than hips
  • Keep your head up and avoid leaning forward: by keeping your chair close in to the desk you can help maintain this position.
  • Sleep on a firm mattress and use a pillow under your head just big enough to maintain the normal cervical—neck—curve. Avoid use of over- sized or several pillows.
  • Exercise regularly; exercise promotes strong and flexible muscles that keep you upright in a proper postural position.
By Mark Yanai

The Hi Life of the Supposed

 

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This past semester, Natalia, one of the five Northeastern University Co-ops worked with me at our W.O.R.C. site and with Randy at our Kailua clinic. She was one of the PT students that was exposed to and later immersed in Postural Restoration Institute (PRI) techniques, something exciting and new to F&L. Natalia has since returned to Boston to resume classes and continue her pursuit of her doctorate degree in Physical Therapy.

She spent her last weekend in Hawaii attending F&L’s closed course on PRI, which I wrote about in my last blog. I had just returned from my trip to Boston where I commented to everyone that “no one has heard of any student named Natalia”.  She was then given the name “Supposed” by James Anderson, our course instructor.

I don’t always get to work closely with the Co-Ops as they are assigned to our various clinics, but when I do, I get very attached to them. Natalia was no different and we got to know each other well. She was a terrific student of the craft and I know she’ll become an excellent clinician. We will definitely miss her presence at the clinics and wish her the best in her future endeavors. We are so grateful to Natalia for writing about her experience working with F&L and the fun she had living on the island for six months.

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My Co-Op Experience: Natalia

Upon my return to Boston, I’ve heard the same question over and over from my classmates and friends: “How was Hawaii?” This is a surprisingly difficult question for me. I usually answer with some variation on the words “spectacular”, “completely amazing”, or perhaps a succinct “epic”, but no matter what I say, the words seem lacking to describe how much the experience truly meant to me.

Living in Kailua and working at Fukuji & Lum has without a doubt been the best six months of my life to date. I got to work with such amazing, compassionate, intelligent people who provided me a real life example of what culture- and value-oriented health care is all about. I got to learn from uniquely skilled, experienced, and dedicated physical therapists who were incredibly generous in sharing their knowledge and went out of their way to give me an educational experience I don’t think I could have gotten anywhere else. I got to become familiar with types of treatments not all practitioners learn even after graduation, such as PRI, Strain-Counterstrain, and NAIOMT.

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Over the past six months, I have grown so much and become more confident in myself as an individual, a healthcare professional, and a future physical therapist. And of course, I got to do all this in between weekends spent exploring sheer clifftops, cascading waterfalls, colorful pillboxes, jungle forests, ancient ruins, hidden treehouses, vibrant reefs, and white-sand beaches; eating amazingly ono grinds from all around the island, from the food trucks in Haleiwa to ramen in Honolulu; and visiting unique cultural places like the city graffiti of Kaka’ako or the tranquil beauty of the Byodo-in Temple, among so many others.

Along the way, I got to forge incredible friendships with my coworkers, roommates, patients and more. Living in Hawaii taught me to open up so much more than I ever used to and showed me just how easy it is to make friends, be it with someone I met on the top of the Makapu’u lighthouse hike, in downtown Honolulu, at the beach playing volleyball, or even in the clinic. I’m so grateful that I got to share some pretty awesome island experiences with such a large variety of people. No matter where I was or how much of a stranger I felt at first, I was always welcomed and treated like ohana. From my experience, the “aloha spirit” is very much a real and tangible thing; the islands really bring people together.

One of the things I’m really glad I did was visiting Kauai to take in the views along the steep Na Pali Coast hike and from the top of Waimea Canyon. Each island is so different and offers so many unique experiences, which I didn’t realize until after I had gone to Kauai. I hope to come back to Hawaii and experience more of the adventures each island has to offer. And despite all the hikes and adventures I managed to fit in, there are still things on my Oahu bucket list I have yet to do!

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As I return to classes and adjust back to life in Boston (which, right now, is far hotter and stickier than Hawaii was, unfortunately), I am constantly reminded about how lucky and blessed I was to be surrounded by some of the most beautiful beaches, mountains, bays and waterfalls in the world, all within such close reach. I deeply treasure all of the connections and ongoing relationships I made there, and it’s hard to be so far away; the island life already seems so distant. I think warmly of the patients I helped to treat and the amazing people I worked with, and I’m trying to bring some of that aloha spirit they showed me along with me back to Boston. If I’m being honest, I wish I could still be working at Fukuji & Lum – six months seemed too short! But I know that the rest of my education lies in front of me, and the island will always be there to welcome me back. In the meantime, I’ll have to settle to listening to Kolohe Kai and Jack Johnson while studying for midterms in the library, dreaming of Lanikai beaches.

Mahalo and aloha oe to everyone in Fukuji & Lum and anyone who’s touched my life in Hawaii in someway. I hope to be back to say aloha again some day.

Love,

Natalia

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By Mark Yanai

Introducing Natalia

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We continue with the introductions of our most recent Co-ops. Meet Natalia, our newest addition to the Kailua clinic. Read about how her detour from the mainland to Hawaii for her next Co-op experience came about in our Q&A session below.
IMG_9242– What school did you attend in high school and what’s your current college?
I went to Jesuit High School in Portland, OR and moved to Boston for Northeastern University‘s six year DPT program.

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– What drew you to physical therapy?
I’ve always known I wanted to be in the health profession, so in high school I did a lot of research and talked to a bunch of people from different careers. What struck me the most was how much physical therapists enjoyed their jobs and felt that their work was deeply rewarding and meaningful. I shadowed at an outpatient clinic and it was very inspirational to see the strong rapport PTs have with their patients and how hard they work to help their patients improve.

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– Why did you want to do your Co-op in Hawaii?

I really enjoyed my last outpatient Co-op because I appreciated the depth of a relationship that can be built over a longer timeframe with patients seen in an outpatient clinic as opposed to a hospital setting. I decided the Hawaii Co-op would give me a new take on an environment that I’ve already had some experience with and plan to go in the future, as well as provide me the opportunity to learn fresh techniques, perspectives, and cultural values which will shape my practice down the line.
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– What has been your experience like so far?
It’s been incredible! Honestly, everyone is so friendly and chill. I thought it would be hard to transition to a completely different culture and surroundings than what I’m used to, but I already never want to leave! I have never felt so stress-free and so physically and mentally healthy! I can tell these six months are going to fly by.

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– What’s the strangest thing that you’ve eaten since arriving?
I would probably say the strawberry guava that we picked off the side of a trail during a hike in Temple Valley. It was delicious and not as strange of a texture as lilikoi, but just the fact that I could pick tasty, edible fruit to munch in the middle of our hike totally blew my mind! I also couldn’t figure out if I should eat the small seeds or spit them out!
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– What is on your to do list while here?
My to do list mainly revolves around being fully immersed in the culture and experiences while I’m here and to take advantage of every moment. I am going to try and be outside as much as possible by swimming, biking, running and hiking O’ahu’s beautiful landscapes. My other main goal is to learn as much as I can from the unique culture and clinic opportunities, making sure I come away with an unforgettable educational experience.

– What are your outside interests?
I’m very into tea and I love to cook healthy and try new recipes. I bike everywhere back in Boston and enjoy reading outdoors whenever I get a chance. I really like petting people’s dogs and taking advantage of community volunteer opportunities.

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– What kind of therapist do you hope to be?
I hope to be the kind of therapist who is constantly learning and bettering herself in order to best help other people, putting the well-being of my patients above all else. I really value education and continual learning which I believe is crucial for providing the best possible health care.

– Who is your greatest influence in your life?
That’s hard to say, because everyone I’m close to has influenced me in some way — my family, friends, teachers, peers, and coworkers alike. If I had to choose one person, I would say my sister. She’s the one who’s given me my love of outdoor adventure, shaped my taste in music and literature, and honed my skills in vegetarian cooking. She has showed me what it means to be a compassionate and altruistic individual. She has always encouraged me to follow my dreams and has been there whenever I’ve had to make tough decisions. She definitely is likely the reason why I chose a career in physical therapy.

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