From Patient to Physical Therapist
Erin Hansen, PT, DPT, specializes in orthopedics and sports rehab. Her primary location is St. Luke's Mount Royal Medical Clinic.
How an injury inspired a career at St. Luke’s
In college, Erin Hansen fell in love with running. Over time, she started to notice a persistent pain in her foot. Concerned it was going to get in the way of what she loved, she saw an orthopedic specialist. The specialist referred her to a physical therapist (PT).
“I had absolutely no idea what I was walking into,” said Erin, “but I’m so thankful I went.” As she followed the treatment plan from her PT, Erin’s pain slowly got better. Ten weeks later, she was able to run a marathon.
The experience inspired her to completely change her career path. “I quit my job and went back to school to become a PT,” said Erin. “On top of being a completely fascinating field, helping another person get back to enjoying what they love is so rewarding.”
Now, she practices at St. Luke’s Mount Royal Medical Clinic, helping Duluthians enjoy every activity the area has to offer.
What a PT does
A PT is a movement expert who can help improve a person’s quality of life through prescribed exercise, hands-on care and education. “We teach each patient a set of customized exercises and stretches,” said Erin. “Sometimes a treatment plan will include other modalities as well.” This could be anything from manual therapy to trigger point dry needling.
There are no adverse side effects to physical therapy, and the ultimate goal is for patients to be able to manage their recovery long-term from home.
There are no adverse side effects to physical therapy, and the ultimate goal is for patients to be able to manage their recovery long-term from home. “I don't want patients to be dependent on me,” said Erin. “I want to teach them the tools they need to get back on track and manage any flare ups they may have down the road.”
Education is also a large part of what a PT does. “We teach a lot,” said Erin, “about the anatomy and the how the body works. We want patients to understand why something is happening and how to prevent future injuries.”
Who a PT helps
Many patients who work with a PT have injuries, disabilities or other health conditions that need treatment. However, PTs also care for those who just want to learn how to be healthier and prevent future problems. They can help people achieve fitness goals, regain or maintain independence, and lead an active lifestyle.
“I help all kinds of people,” said Erin. “Recently, a runner came in with hip pain. I helped her identify some muscle imbalances. After only four or five visits, we were able to clear things up for her.” This patient was able to run a 5k with no pain and is now training for a half marathon.
Another woman Erin recently worked with was experiencing pain in her Achilles tendon. “She lives in a hilly part of town and could barely walk her dog down her street,” said Erin. “I saw her for about eight visits and now she’s back out there, walking the Duluth hills and even hiking the Superior Hiking Trail.”
Physical therapy at St. Luke’s
With a team of more than 40 board-certified PTs, St. Luke’s can connect you with the therapist that is just right for your situation. Many St. Luke’s PTs have been specially trained to address a wide-range of concerns including:
- Amputation and prosthetic issues
- Arthritis symptoms
- Back and neck pain
- Balance issues
- Chronic pain
- Fibromyalgia symptoms
- Jaw pain
- Muscle weakness
- Pelvic floor problems
- Pinched or irritated nerves
- Posture restoration
- Pregnancy discomforts
- Running gait analysis
- Side-effects of cancer treatment
- Sports injuries
“If you are experiencing any nagging aches or pains that are holding you back, you can just call us,” said Erin.
In addition, a referral is not required. “If you are experiencing any nagging aches or pains that are holding you back, you can just call us,” said Erin. “We have a great team of therapists and a lot of locations in the area to choose from. Physical therapy can be the first step to get you back on track.”
To schedule an appointment, call 218.249.6040. To learn more about physical therapy and read the bios of St. Luke’s PTs, visit slhduluth.com/PhysicalTherapy.
This article was published in the May/June 2022 issue of The Woman Today magazine.