Q&A with an Orthopedic Clinical Specialist

Clinical Expertise

by Dr. Nata Salvatori | Sep 30, 2017

An orthopedic injury can happen at any time or at any age. At Brooks, we treat approximately 12,000 patients with orthopedic injuries each year. Having the right expert on your side after an orthopedic injury can make all the difference. We asked Nata Salvatori PT, DPT, OCS, SCS, FAAOMPT, Center Manager at the Brooks Center for Sports Therapy, a few questions about specialized orthopedic care.

1. What does it mean to be a Physical Therapist (PT) who is an Orthopedic Clinical Specialist? 

To be a Board-Certified Specialist in our profession means that you have found your passion and have gone above and beyond in knowledge and experience. Board Certified specialists have to acquire a significant amount of specialized learning. This is done through residency programs and/or taking an examination that challenges your knowledge and the application of everything you’ve learned.

2. What diagnoses do you typically treat? 

We treat everything from a simple ankle sprain or back pain to post-surgical patients and athletes recovering from an injury.

3. What orthopedic conditions do you treat the most? 

As an orthopedic specialist, I treat head to toe. We specialize in musculoskeletal conditions and help patients to recover their mobility, strength, and power.  As a physical therapist, conditions of the spine such as lower back pain and neck pain are very common and are a significant part of the injuries I deal with.

4. What services are available for those patients? 

There are a variety of techniques and resources a PT can utilize for treatment. You will usually see a combination of therapeutic exercises and hands-on work such as mobilizations, manipulations and soft tissue work. We also have several techniques, like massages, that can be utilized for symptom management to allow the patient to perform the exercises in their individualized plan of care.

5. Is there a memorable case/patient that stands out in your mind? 

Instead of a one particular success story, I’m going to share a story that shows how important it is to recognize your expertise and know your limitations. I have this couple as patients.  I treated the husband 2-3 times for different issues. His wife started requesting me as a therapist as well. Although I was able to help her in the beginning, her issue evolved beyond my area of expertise. I suggested that she see another Brooks colleague. She was very resistant. As flattered as I was that she thought I had the knowledge to help her, I had to have an honest and have a hard conversation with her about expertise. I remember telling her, “You wouldn’t see a knee doctor for your spine surgery would you?”  It took some convincing, but I was able to have her see other Brooks colleagues and she went on the path to a great recovery. It would’ve been easy for me to just keep her at my clinic and work with her, but I couldn’t overlook the potential gains she could achieve. She was being treated by an orthopedic specialist when she needed to be seen by a neurologic specialist. Specialization is a great asset of our profession. It helps us better serve our patients. An expert clinician knows where their expertise stops and someone else’s starts. We don’t have to know everything but we need to know our limits. We are fortunate to have so many experts within Brooks that finding the specialist you need is just a phone call away.