Therapydia NOLA physical therapist Curtis Olivieri takes some time to talk about the wide variety of care provided by PTs, the importance of one-on-one treatments and the pricelessness of a good couch.
“Movement that you enjoy, in a variety of planes, is a must.”
When did you know that you wanted to be a physical therapist?
I typically give a 3-part answer in regards to this question. Sometime in middle school to high school through sports, a mentor and a drive to help.
1. Growing up, i was (and still am) a thing, under-muscled but coordinated person that wrestled, snowboarded, played baseball and football. This landed me in physical therapy more than a few times.
2. I have a close family member who is a physical therapist. He was an amazing mentor who helped shape me both professionally and personally, including igniting my interest in and passion for physical therapy.
3. I’ve always wanted to pursue a career that involves helping people. There is nothing better, I have found, than having someone who was in years of pain tell me the pain is gone and that they can play with their grandkids again.
What is the biggest challenge involved in being a PT?
In some settings, there is less focus placed on quality treatments and more focus on treating a high volume of patients. This encourages spending less time with someone which means you can’t spend the time needed to treat that person as a whole. Patients are a combination of their beliefs, their daily habits, stress levels, previous injuries, attitudes toward their rehab, education of their own functional anatomy, among many other things. If physical therapists can’t spend more one-on-one time, they can’t address all of these factors. That’s why I’m happy to be at Therapydia NOLA where one-on-one, PT to patient care is the norm and I love it.
How do you like to stay active?
Golf, softball, flag football, ping pong, fishing, hiking. Mostly anything that is fun and competitive and in more recent years has some nature / aesthetic beauty involved.
What’s your favorite song to get you motivated?
Not sure if I have a specific song but in my previous clinic we had “Franky Fridays” on Pandora. We played Frank Sinatra and other big band music and it put some pep in my step.
What has surprised you the most about the physical therapy profession?
Nobody really ever cancels Friday afternoon appointments to go golfing. This was an image of health care workers I had growing up; when in reality, Fridays are really just finishing up your 50th hour of work for the week.
Are you currently pursuing any further education or certifications?
Always. Long commutes at my previous job in Pennsylvania were filled with podcasts and audiobooks. More recently I’ve been diving deeper and deeper into the mechanics of breathing for psychological, physiological and biomechanical health.
What do you wish everyone knew about physical therapy?
I wish people knew that a good physical therapist is many things. They are your guides through functional limitation and physical pain. They address all the layers of you: massage, joint manipulation, nerve stimulation, dry needling, among many other passive treatments to reduce pain but more importantly through movement, education and hard work they progress you along a timeline to bring you back to your previous self. No other healthcare practitioner offers this wide variety of conservative care under one roof.
The phrase “I’ve tried PT before,” is both a dagger to my heart and an opportunity to change a mindset. As not all physicians are created equally, neither are all PTs.
Long story short, I wish everyone knew that a good PT who has the opportunity to spend time with you can be your most valuable tool for your physical health.
What’s your go-to breakfast?
A greek omelet, wheat toast, two pancakes with blueberry syrup, one sausage link, one piece of bacon, water, OJ and half a cup of coffee…split with my wife (Shoutout to the Original Waffle Shop in State College PA – Penn State University).
What is the most important personality trait that a PT must have?
They have to love people. Techniques and methods can be taught, being a person who loves to help and connect can’t be taught.
What do you do to unwind or de-stress?
I love to nap. My speed is zero or 60mph. A good couch is priceless. Don’t get me wrong, I am no couch potato but rest is important for good health and I take advantage of that. 🙂
Finish this sentence: On Saturday mornings, you can usually find me…
Exploring and then gorging at a new breakfast spot. Gorging enough that you have no choice but to take a nice mid to late morning nap.
What is your favorite piece of wellness advice?
Movement that you enjoy, in a variety of planes, is a must. Movement contracts muscle, stimulates nerves and promotes increased blood flow throughout the body. Continuous exchange of blood flow throughout is the fountain of youth. The more you do it the greater your capacity for work becomes. The larger your capacity / tolerance = less chance for pain and injury.
Click here to learn more about Curtis and the other physical therapists at Therapydia NOLA.