Spotlight on Dustin Hancock: Physical Therapist of the Week

In the spirit of the holidays, we bring you another rockstar physical therapist spotlight, with a story more heartwarming than a steaming cup of cocoa. We were simply floored by Amy Hansen’s submission, nominating her physical therapist, Dustin Hancock of Rausch Physical Therapy and Sports Performance in Laguna Niguel, California. Her story is a true testament of just how impactful physical therapists can be in their patient’s lives. Dustin and Amy’s tale is one, not of tragedy, but of triumph, and Rausch PT has a lovely write-up of their own, detailing this inspiring narrative.

Amy with her rock star PT team!

It is easy to see just how much Rausch Physical Therapy values its patients, and that care certainly comes through in its staff’s approach to treatment. Since opening in 2006, Rausch PT has been delivering client-centered, specialized physical therapy treatment and the staff refuse to believe in the word “can’t.” When it comes to their patient’s goals, their physical therapists and aides are steadfast in their dedication to achieving the so-called “impossible.” This potent mixture of therapeutic expertise and dogged determination is just what the doctor ordered for even the most confounding of diagnoses. Case in point is the story of Amy Hansen and Dustin Hancock. Amy’s bravery in the face of utter disaster, and Dustin’s calm in the midst of that storm are highlighted in Amy’s short but extra-sweet submission below:

“I have been doing PT for over a year with Dustin. I started because my leg turned in, but then I broke my femur. Dustin was actually there when my femur broke, and he held my leg in place until the paramedics arrived. I was scared, but Dustin made it better. He has been working with me to recover. My favorite part about PT is that Dustin always makes it fun. He even dresses up with me on Halloween. And, he helps me to set goals. Like, I really wanted to run again! Dustin got me running on the AlterG. I didn’t think I could do it, but I did. Now I can run for 20 minutes at a time. Hopefully I will keep getting stronger and Dustin said he will run a 5K with me. I’ve never done THAT before!”

Check out this video of Amy, up and running on the AlterG for the first time! She is a true champion in every sense of the word.

When reached for comment, Dustin gave the following account of his time with Amy so far:

“My history with Amy is an up-and-down story of emotions.  I remember when she first arrived with her mom, Janice; Amy was shy and had very little direct eye contact. She was walking in a collapsed/crossing over gait pattern.  She told me her hip hurts when she walks around Disneyland too much, so that became our goal: to get her stronger and improve her walking so she could better enjoy her favorite place.  Janice explained to me that Amy’s diagnosis is still not fully understood, but she trusted we could help Amy get stronger. Amy and I work on the pilates machines with hands-on LE manual resisted exercises to improve proprioception, we perform standing tapping/balance/coordination exercises, and we use the AlterG for improving walking distances without aggravation.

Of course we all have set backs sometimes. Amy’s came one day when she was turning to walk around a step up box to start an exercise and her right femur spiral fractured (Yes, it broke that easily!). I was treating another patient when I saw her collapse.  I hurried over to assess her injury and held her leg in traction on the ground. I just tried to keep Amy calm while my aide addressed her mom and front desk called for transportation to the hospital, which is conveniently right across the freeway from our clinic. Whew, bad day!

I had to continue working after emergency personnel left with Amy, but that night I went to the hospital to give her a good-luck high five before surgery. We found out later that Amy has a disease that makes her bone density inconsistent (her bones have both hard and soft sections), so a fracture could happen at any time. To this day, Janice and I talk about how much worse it could have been that day. What if it had happened in a Costco setting, which is where they were planning to go after PT that day? What if it had happened when she was home alone, which she is often?  If it was going to happen, Rausch PT was the best place for it to happen.

Amy catching some waves!

Today, Amy is a new person-  from the way she walks to the way she talks, and the way she goes through life. She loves to surf through the Best Day Foundation in Orange County, and she dances in the clinic while working out. Plus, with the AlterG running progression programs, we have set a new goal: to run a 5K through Disneyland this January. 

The Sky is the limit for Amy, so let’s see what she can do! Amy is the highlight of my day when she’s on my schedule and I appreciate her as much as she does me.”

Ok, so if your eyes are still dry after reading that, then I really don’t know what to tell you… I know that here at AlterG headquarters, we definitely had to make an emergency tissue run after some of these submissions! Amy and Dustin, your AlterG family stands in awe of your physical tenacity and courageous spirits. Here’s to hoping that 2016 brings you continued success, as you work together to achieve new milestones in Amy’s journey. As for the rest of you, take this free dose of inspiration and go do something awesome to close out the year! While you’re at it, thank your physical therapist; they are undoubtedly making the holidays shine a little brighter for a lot of people out there; and maybe even for a few beat-up reindeer.