Doc keeps troops on move to healthy life

Doc keeps troops on move to healthy life

by Brayton Metzger
Naval Hospital Guam

One of the keys to extending the life of any machine is proper use and timely maintenance; this is also true for the human body. U.S. Navy Lt. Tommy Wong, Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) with U.S. Naval Hospital Guam (USNH Guam) understands the relation between movement, function, and overall health.

“Movement is medicine. Exercise is medicine. I’m a firm believer in that.” says Wong, who is the department head for Physical Therapy at USNH Guam. He is also the Command Fitness Leader, or CFLs, at USNH Guam where he routinely sponsors running clinics for hospital staff and other island commands. He believes the best way to treat injury and promote healthy habits is to advocate health awareness and injury prevention. He is doing that by showing Sailors and his patients how to properly use their body while exercising.

Prior to USNH Guam, Lt. Wong was stationed at Joint Expeditionary Base Little Creek, VA, where he would provide on-site physical therapy to various expeditionary units. It was there Wong found his own sense of fulfilment from his work. “I enjoy building rapport with patients and teaching them the relationship between anatomy and function. I get satisfaction from seeing them improve over time.”

While stationed at Little Creek, Wong experienced that feeling of accomplishment many times, but it was one experience in particular that stands out in his mind. A Sailor who had undergone multiple abdominal procedures was unable to do the required sit ups to pass her physical fitness test. The first attempt to help her was done through additional surgery as well as physical therapy, but the stretching and strengthening exercises were not enough. Lt. Wong turned to Soft Tissue Mobilization, the breaking down of adhesions on muscle, to help the Sailor turn the corner. Over the course of ten sessions, Lt. Wong was able to help her reduce pain and improve function. By the time her sessions were finished, she improved enough to pass her physical fitness test.

As a Physical Therapist, patient improvement is the most important and rewarding aspect of military medicine; military readiness on Guam is among the highest in all of the Navy. This is a result of the hard-work and determination from service-members and the dedicated healthcare team that Lt. Wong proudly represents. Physical Therapy is not only an important tool for rehabilitatilng injured service-members, it also serves as an educational tool to prevent future injuries.

“You can’t rely on passive treatments, you have to be active.” says Wong, referring to how he views his job in relation to the hospital’s mission of keeping the Guam military family ready, healthy, and on the job. Your physical health requires enough exercise to stay fit, but it is also important to know your limits and ensure you are using proper form and technique. “It’s about changing habits and behaviors,” says Wong, “remember what Mom taught us, sit up straight and don’t slouch.”

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