In the suburbs of San Jose, California, our June Clinician of the Month, Wesley Kendall, PT, DPT, C-PS, is just getting his career started at Physical Therapy of Los Gatos as a Physical Therapist. Kendall received his Doctorate in Physical Therapy at the University of St. Augustine for Health Sciences with high honors in 2021.
“Not only is Wes an excellent colleague who I can consult with, but he is also eager to learn from others in order to provide better quality of care for our patients,” nominator and coworker Rob Naber, P.T., O.C.S., S.C.S., A.T., C. said. “Wes also is a true professional as he demonstrates the role of Physical Therapy in today’s healthcare.”
Although he is only beginning his career, Kendall already has set himself up for success. By continuing his education to become a Champion-Performance Specialist (C-PS), Kendall can help a variety of patients who come into the practice thanks to Mike Reinold and his Champion Sports program. The program, which helps identify nine basic patterns, such as squat, lunge, push, and pull, helps him visually analyze movement performance.
“I did that [program] primarily to improve the way I worked with athletes,” Kendall said. “Where standardized tests and measures wouldn’t be appropriate or wouldn’t capture their whole condition.”
Kendall said he now integrates his C-PS knowledge when working with the general population. For example, if someone has low back or neck pain, he integrates those movement assessments to help enhance the way people move.
“He uses his unique blend of excellent clinical skills and strong people skills to quickly create that magical “Therapeutic Alliance” with patients. At the initial evaluation, he really listens to the patient and grasps their functional limitations and how it disrupts their lives. Wes then applies his clinical evaluative and therapeutic intervention skills to create an effective treatment plan,” Naber said.
Wesley Kendall’s Must-Have Products
Finding His Passion
Familiar with Santa Clara County, Kendall grew up in Campbell, California. He attended Santa Clara University where he received a Bachelor of Science in Public Health Science and a minor in biology. While he enjoyed studying public health, he spent time determining how he felt he could be most impactful. For him, that meant on an individual level.
“As I worked in physical therapy offices and as a medical assistant, I learned physical therapists had a unique opportunity to spend more time with patients over a longer period of time,” Kendall said. “That allowed them to develop those relationships, but then capture things that were being missed in traditional healthcare.”
Kendall said having time to discuss their exercise habits, nutrition, and just help motivate patients to get moving and improve the way they feel really drew him to physical therapy.
“I think a lot of people slip through the cracks in our healthcare system, and I enjoy being able to fill that gap,” Kendall said.
It’s what keeps him coming back to work each day, guiding people through their recovery process.
Experience in Different Socioeconomic Classes
Although he is just getting started, Kendall has a wide variety of experience, as he was able to spend time working in Georgia and Hawaii before receiving his doctorate. A vast difference in approaches and environments, Kendall said his experiences have given him the ability to think differently based on who he is working with.
While in Georgia, Kendall worked in a skilled nursing facility of a smaller populated city with about 3,000 residents. Because of the size of the town, and the average income of a family being under $19,000, Kendall said he often focused on education.
“What really changed was the landscape of understanding how to eat healthy and how to exercise,” Kendall said.
In the community, Kendall said often people didn’t have the financial freedom to do those things, which led to more comorbidities, such as cardiovascular health or congestive heart failure.
Since the knowledge was not often taught, Kendall said his time was often spent taking a more educational approach. This included conversations about getting control of your life back, or how you can take care of the health factors surrounding you.
As for his time in Hawaii? Kendall said the population was very active, with lots of surfers, hikers, and triathletes. People were also not as interested in using Western medicine, which led to finding ways to rehab injuries without any major medical intervention. He said this often meant the population did well with different exercise and movement-based approaches.
Mentoring the Next Generation
While he’s just getting his feet wet, Kendall said his favorite way to give back to the physical therapy community is working with prospective physical therapy students.
“Not only the requirements of, ‘OK, how do I get into school?’ But you know, what is it? What is it going to take physically and mentally to prepare for a career as a physical therapist?” Kendall said. “I feel like going through this process recently has given me a good understanding of ‘What are the struggles as a pre-physical therapist?’ and ‘How does that look as you transition into school?’”
He said he also helps the students who take part in summer internships at their clinic. As a part of their program, students must commit around 100 hours and work with the office to develop programs that can improve the clinic, while reflecting graduate level work. This allows students to use their program work when they apply to physical therapy school.
His biggest advice for anyone looking to study or currently studying physical therapy is quite simple.
“Be adaptable and don't be afraid of jumping into the fire. There's so many changes going on within the field right now,” Kendall said. “There are so many different specialties you can go into. I think if you're willing to adapt and kind of move with them, it allows you to develop good skills with communication and working with different types of patients, as well as specialties.”
Performance Health's Impact
While we gave you Kendall’s top five products he thinks all clinicians should have earlier in the article, Kendall definitely had more to say about one of our products.
“You can’t not have it, it’s gotta be there,” Kendall said, when asked about why THERABAND was his favorite Performance Health product.
Kendall said sometimes patients coming in don’t always have experience of lifting weights or using weight machines. However, he has found by starting them off with THERABAND, it is a lot less intimidating.
“Then you can offer the whole spectrum of resistance,” Kendall said. “From there you can continue to increase their training with the resistance until they get to a point where they’re more comfortable using weights.”
Kendall said it also really helps with his home exercise compliance with patients too. Since the bands are versatile, he said after they do the exercises during the visit, he can let the patient take the THERABAND home and do them there as well.
Another reason why he chooses Performance Health? Kendall said although they’ve run out, the new shipment was fast.
“I was shocked,” Kendall said. “Our office manager ordered a new set and I think it was there in a day or two.”
Kendall said knowing the quick turnaround that comes with ordering products really makes a difference.
“Just being able to get it into our patient’s hands faster was very useful,” Kendall said.
The Future of Physical Therapy and Kendall
Since he started studying, Kendall said he has noticed a change in physical therapy becoming more ‘trendy’ in the past few years. He believes that sometimes has led to people substituting their social media presence for evidence-based practice.
“I would like to see more balance between evidence-based physical therapy, but then being open to ‘OK, sometimes other treatments work,’” Kendall said.
Something else he has noticed is the increased usage of dynamometers in clinics.
“I think it provides a little more objectivity to a manual muscle test,” Kendall said. “It also gives patients a better idea of where they are in terms of their strength and how they progress from there.”
Kendall said it helps from a clinician standpoint, while also giving the patients a stronger reference point. He looks forward to seeing what other products might be developed or used more frequently in the office.
As for his own future and development, Kendall says he plans to continue to help others in his community and mentoring interns at the practice. He also plans to apply for his orthopedic clinical specialist exam next year.
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