Every physical therapist has a unique personal story about why they decided to become a physical therapist. This is my story.
For as long as I can remember I have always been involved in sports. My parents (especially my dad) signed both my brother and I up for many sports classes starting from a very young age. Tennis, karate, and judo were just a few of them. However, it was swimming that my dad decided I was perfect for. I began taking swimming classes at the age of 4 and started competing in swimming around the age of 6. My dad was invested in my brother and I to becoming the best possible swimmers. There wasn’t anything fun or glamorous about this time honestly, as most days were spent in school and at the swimming pool. In my teenage years we traveled all around Israel for local and regional leagues and competitions. My brother and I did really well and I even became the top two in the nation in the backstroke at the age of 15.
From the age of 16 on, my interest in swimming dropped significantly as my love for basketball started to outweigh my love for swimming. Soon after I stopped swimming. This part of my competitive swimming life was over.
Around the time I stopped swimming, I started playing basketball on one of the local teams. To be honest I wasn’t very good – I spent most of the time on the bench and fairly quickly understood that my basketball talent would not take me far. At the same time my curiosity toward bodybuilding grew stronger as I had also started gaining weight from inactivity and poor diet. This is when I discovered the sport of bodybuilding. I was very invested in learning about everything related to bodybuilding, from nutrition to exercise, that I spent a lot of time reading books on the topic. It was around this time I joined the gym that was located in the country club where I had swam in the past. Luckily enough soon after I started working out, I met a former bodybuilding competitor and coach. The amount of knowledge I gained from him has not been exceeded by anything else I have learned to this day. It was an exciting time for me. Without knowing it, this was my first introduction to physical therapy. My coach encouraged me to read and so I read many books and magazines in English. I even remember being one of the first Israeli customers to buy a bodybuilding book on Amazon.
Eventually I ended up studying computer software engineering before I joined the Israeli Air Force. I also spent many hours in the gym and hoped to keep developing my body throughout my service. I also kept playing basketball and football during my time off. And that is when my injuries started.
The first injury I sustained happened while I was playing football – flag football – while playing as a receiver I turned to receive the ball and heard a “pop”. The knee was so painful I couldn’t move. I had no idea what was going on until I made it to the doctor, who diagnosed me with a torn ACL and torn meniscus. At that time I had no idea what physical therapy was and what therapists did. But after this injury I certainly did – I had two surgeries on my left knee and I was treated by therapists before and after my surgeries (I have since also had two more surgeries on my knees). This experience led me to start thinking about the medical field as my go to field to study after I finished my military service.
During my last year in the Air Force, like most people in the Israeli Defense Force, I started to explore different career paths. Computer science wasn’t interesting to me anymore. I had grown bored of it, mostly I think because of how hard it seemed to directly connect and help other people in this field. Nursing was my initial thought – my mom has been a nurse in Israel for over forty years now – and I believed at the time that nursing would fit me well, as my interest in helping others grew stronger during this period. My decision was not met with a lot of excitement from my parents and they suggested physical therapy instead. Eventually my mom introduced me to the son of someone she worked with, a therapist who had graduated from a physical therapy program in the Czech Republic. Long story short, this conversation and later on, many more, made me realize that physical therapy is what I always wanted to do.
My mind was set. I was going to be a physical therapist.
- A profession that is closely related to sports, that I love and have experienced.
- A profession that helps others to rehabilitate and overcome injuries, like I had experienced myself.
- A profession that cares about the people around, as I believe I always have.