My Story - Amy Wolkin PT, DPT, MBA
I wanted to open my story by telling you a joke about the skeleton.
I hope you find it humerus.
Did you get it? Well, if not, I can start off my story by explaining some anatomy to you. (cue music) “The knee bone is connected to the thigh bone.” Not yet? Keep reading… I promise the punch line is in this post, and it relates to how I decided that I was destined for a career that helps girls and women recover from conditions such as injury, childbirth, pain, or inability to participate in sport.
I was a very cranky baby who did not want to go to sleep ever while being still. My parents figured out that the only way to guarantee that I would fall asleep would be to take me on a walk in the stroller around the neighborhood. Life had to be in motion for me to be comforted and happy. This continued throughout childhood when I was enrolled in the pre-school leagues for soccer. The best part of the school day was recess.
However, at the age of seven, my ability to be in motion literally came to a crashing halt. One day, on the playground, I decided that I was invincible and would play on the monkey bars. Unfortunately, my body and my brain were not speaking the same language; instead of performing acrobatics in the air by only holding onto the metal bars, I fell down. I tried to dust off the dirt off my eyes to stand up but could not move my dominant right arm. Therefore, I moved my left arm to swipe the dirt off my eyes and looked up. It turns out that my right arm was bent in shapes that I never knew were possible. As I stood up, other parents rushed over, and it appeared from their facial expressions that they had also not seen an arm look like that. Keep in mind, this occurred before we all had cell phones. Therefore, swim team practice was halted, my mom was called, and off we were to Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta.
While most kids would freak out at the site of their own broken arm, I honestly was mesmerized. Those x-rays were so cool! I learned about the bones in the arm, found out that I had fractured my radius and humerus, and then proudly left the hospital with a blue cast that others would sign the next day at school.
Reality soon hit. I not only could not participate in recess to the degree I wanted to, but I also did not have a waterproof cast. That meant no swim team for 8 weeks while my bones healed.
This no longer was a humerus situation…. I couldn’t be as rambunctious of a seven year as I usually was!
My bones did heal, and even though the weeks dragged on, I was motivated by my follow up doctor appointments. The x-rays were always fascinating and it was so cool to me how the body worked. How did my right arm go from a strong arm that I used to write in school and dangle from the bars to a disfigured mess to healing back again?
Fast forward about 10 years: I was still an active child but now ready for college. I remember the day I mailed my deposit to Wellesley College. There was something special about being surrounded by other ambitious women at a women’s college. I also had spoken with alumnae who discussed the power of the network following and how much Wellesley influenced them beyond the classroom.
While at Wellesley, my desire to stay active, learn about the body and educate others did not let up. I joined the cross country team and was a co-captain my senior year. As a first-year student, I was met with aches and pains as I adjusted to higher mileage, and I spent a lot of time in the training room. By my sophomore year, I was still in there often, but not because of injury – I began working as a student athletic training aide during the offseason, trying to gain as much hands-on exposure to the field of sports medicine as I could.
I was a founding member of SLAM DUNK: Science Learning and Mentoring, Discovering and Understanding New Knowledge. Each weekend, I would volunteer with other mentors to teach middle school girls enrolled in the Science Club for Girls a sports medicine curriculum. It was such a great perspective about learning away from the stress of college studies and I loved making learning fun.
During my junior year, I studied abroad in New Zealand. This was a great way to quench my thirst for an activity and adventure. I experienced the tramping club, zorbing, bungee jumping, and sky diving. I did also spend time in the classroom and took an exercise physiology course. When returning to Wellesley my senior year, I designed and implemented a new exercise physiology curriculum for SLAM DUNK. I included fun experiments, such as using fish to educate kids about different muscle fiber types.
Humerus fact for you reading: White fish, such as cod, are more of sprinters and require less oxygen than red tuna who need more oxygen and swim for extended periods of time.
After graduating from Wellesley, I took a year off to work as a math/science tutor and to determine what healthcare route I wanted to pursue. I recognized how much I valued time involved with patient care and the rehabilitation process. I applied to Doctor of Physical Therapy programs and ended up choosing to return to my hometown to attend Emory University. While in my DPT program, I pursued a dual degree, pursuing my MBA so that I could become a leader in the field of physical therapy.
All of these experiences led me to pursue my desire to make a lasting impact on not only female adolescents, but all women as a part of the growing field of women’s health. There is nothing humerus about it: I want to help girls and women understand and be in control of their bodies, and live their best life.
I can’t wait to continue my adventures at Catalyst Physical Therapy