The flip of a light switch may have determined Kate Campbell’s career trajectory.
At sixteen, Campbell was a competitive gymnast and was severely injured, requiring physical therapy, a vocation she considered at the discouragement of many because of the competition and excessive paperwork. She recalls sitting with an ice pack on her knee watching physical therapists in matching polo shirts helping patients on various exercise machines when an older gentleman flipping a nearby light switch caught her eye.
Up, on; down, off. Up, on; down, off. Up, on; down, off.
Campbell realized that the man was re-learning the most basic task so he could independently return to life as he once knew it. Something that many of us take for granted, turning a light on or off, was the focus of his intense effort that day; Campbell was hooked. “Watching him flipping that switch up and down…it was like my own switch went on. I knew I wanted to spend my life helping people just like him.”
And help them, she does.
Kate Campbell is a physical therapist with RVNAhealth focusing on comprehensive sports injury therapy and prevention education and programming where she applies a comprehensive approach to healing. A triathlete and accomplished life-long athlete, Campbell believes fervently in injury-prevention education which she does regularly at the Golf Performance Center in Ridgefield (GPC), an RVNAhealth partner in wellness. More recently, she began offering running evaluations to assess individual strength, mechanics, flexibility and foot and shoe analysis for runners of all experience levels. “Avoiding injury isn’t about luck,” Campbell says, “it’s about understanding how injuries happen.”
When they do, Campbell takes a thorough approach designed to prevent patient hospitalization and restore activity as soon as safely possible with full range of motion restoration. Functional therapy, Campbell calls it, addresses all aspects of recovery including the secondary systems that are affected. “When developing a treatment plan,” Campbell says, “I watch how a patient moves in entirety to identify comprehensive areas of concern. It’s important to consider the systemic connections when approaching healing. If someone has spinal surgery, physical therapy must consider how the spine interacts with other parts of the body to ensure it’s all supported. Ultimately, I want to get people back to doing what they love to do.” Because Campbell supports all facets of the RVNAhealth portfolio, she works with patients of all ages—from the youngest golf students at Golf Performance Center to senior hospice patients grappling with weaknesses impacting their quality of life.
Ultimately, the goal is for Campbell to open her own practice under the RVNAhealth umbrella to serve a different clientele. “I want to bring my expertise to athletes who are hungry for high quality care, in a specialized and sophisticated environment married with all of the resources and support that RVNAhealth can give,” Campbell says.
Her tenured physical therapy career has not been without obstacles, all of which Campbell overcame to become one of only five women in Connecticut board-certified by the American Board of Physical Therapy Specialties (ABPTS) in Sports Physical Therapy. College advisors discouraged her focus because of saturation in the profession, but she was not dissuaded. “I figured if other students were getting the same advice and changed paths then I would be one of the few graduating with the degree and by the time I was twenty-three, I had earned my Doctorate.”
The journey has been worth it. Of many noteworthy patients, one Ridgefield resident is particularly memorable. The geriatric patient was never going to walk normally again due to a rare kidney disease causing chronic inflammation. The woman loved walking for exercise and when her grandson got engaged, she decided she wanted to walk down the aisle as a surprise to the family. Campbell even secretly measured the length of the aisle to make sure they practiced it. “We got the best video of her standing up from her wheelchair and walking down the aisle with her rollator [a mobility aid on wheels] and her grandson. Those proud moments remind me why I do what I do.”