My Life My Words: Dale Little — Healing people through the ‘gamut of life’
November 1, 2010
"I'm a doctor of physical therapy and I'm the physical therapy manager for The (Memorial) Hospital. We're the outpatient rehab facility for the hospital, so we do inpatient at the hospital, outpatient here (at the Centennial Mall) and we also provide home health care services. Most of my time is spent here.
"My undergraduate degree was in biomechanics and exercise science, so that was a nice lead to physical therapy. I completed my physical therapy degree back in 1995 and completed my doctorate in 2007. I'm also an orthopedic manual physical therapist. Basically, it's about understanding the joint structure better, understanding the way people move and function. I do spinal mobilization and manipulation, joint mobilization and manipulation to improve function and decrease pain.
"I have a 4-year-old (patient) right now and I've had a 92-year-old. We see people throughout the gamut of life. We see people who've had strokes, and people with other conditions. We see pretty much everything here. Our primary area of emphasis here is orthopedics and improving people's quality of life.
"It's rewarding seeing somebody come in who's really hurting and making a significant effect on their life to enable them to function in life, to go back to work, to play, enjoy their life through recreation and helping to restore their quality of life. That's huge.
People around here are physical, they're on the move, they don't want to be locked in a room or a house — they want to go out and enjoy their life. It's a significant area for people who work hard and play hard.
"I like to fish. I like to ski. I do hiking, camping with my family. Family's very important to us. I have a wife, Stacy, who's a registered nurse at the hospital. We have a 3-year-old and two older kids who are out of the house, 20 and 22. One's in college and the other one's in the Navy.
"I was in the Coast Guard for seven years, and I was in a major accident where I broke my right femur, and I spent some time in a military hospital going through physical therapy, having to walk again and having to restore my own function. That's probably my biggest introduction to the profession, right there. The field has changed tremendously. The knowledge base of the average person who graduates from physical therapy school is much higher. Back when I was a patient in the mid-1980s, the entry-level degree was a bachelor's degree. The amount of research that's been done on various conditions has expanded tremendously.
"Working and living in an area with this terrain can lead itself to a lot of joint injuries. Just going up and down, lots of hiking, hunters injuring themselves hauling a buck out of the woods. This is a great area to work in. I love it, the people have been awesome. I think physical therapy is a much-needed field of medicine that's helping the community stay active.
"We moved here in December from Appleton, Wisc., about 40 minutes south of Green Bay. It's not much different in terms of the weather, in fact the weather is actually warmer in the wintertime. It's a lot drier here. There, the moisture gets into your bones. We wanted to move to Colorado, and we had a great opportunity working for the hospital. We've been enjoying being here and it's just been really good."