Friday, June 9, 2017

TOP STORY >> Therapists stretch limitations of Airmen

By Airman 1st Class Codie Collins
19th Airlift Wing Public Affairs

Flexibility is the key to Combat Airlift in more ways than one. By pushing and pulling Airmen both physically and mentally, Little Rock Air Force Base physical therapy technicians stretch Airmen to a better state of health.

Senior Airman Hessen Martinez Cruz, 19th Medical Operations Squadron physical therapy technician, works to ensure every patient who comes into the physical therapy clinic is rehabilitated to the best of his ability.

When Airmen suffer from illness or injury, their motor functions can often be adversely compromised. Physical therapy technicians work closely with patients to help them heal and promote overall wellness by helping restore function, improve mobility and relieve pain. 

Martinez Cruz’s approximate 50 patients a day are ensured the best care the Air Force can provide. 

“I have had patients with their knees completely broken and swollen to the point where it looks like you shouldn’t even touch it,” Martinez Cruz said. “They start out on crutches, not being able to put weight on a knee and we get them to the point where they are able to walk.”

From identifying problems to developing and implementing a care plan, physical therapy specialists like Martinez Cruz work with patients as long as necessary so they can resume healthy, active lifestyles.

“The Little Rock Air Force Base clinic doesn’t limit you to a certain amount of visits,” Martinez-Cruz said. “We make sure we’ve helped you as much as we can before we let you go. Once you are well enough to fulfill the mission and a fitness assessment, we incorporate you back into normal duties.”

Rehabilitation isn’t only a way to re-accomplish the mission, it’s a way that gets Airmen back to their lifestyles.

“The clinic is focused on getting Airmen not only back to the mission and the physical assessment, but also for them to be able to enjoy things like family, play with the kids and live a normal life,” Martinez Cruz said.

The dedication Martinez Cruz has towards his patients does not go unnoticed.

“Senior Airman Martinez Cruz is a true professional,” said Staff Sgt. Ralph Hallmon, 19th Medical Operations Squadron physical therapy technician. “He approaches each interpersonal encounter with immense enthusiasm. With his presence, the physical therapy technician career field has truly improved. He exemplifies the notion of dedicated Airman and embodies our core values of Integrity First, Service Before Self and Excellence in All We Do.” 

Martinez Cruz, a Cuban-native, joined the U.S. Air Force with the intention of commissioning.

“I am very grateful to the Air Force for all of the opportunities that I have had and also for the opportunities I have ahead of me and reach for,” Martinez Cruz said.

Until then, Martinez Cruz will be working diligently as a physical therapy technician here.

The base physical therapy clinic is open Monday through Friday 7:30am to 2:30 pm. 

For information on a referral to the physical therapy clinic, contact your primary care manager.

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