Class of 1985
By Chanel Fontes
Sandy Oda is a physical therapist at the Rehabilitation Hospital of the Pacific office in Hilo.† A physical therapist helps people recover from their injuries through regaining strength, endurance, function, mobility in their bodies, and to decrease their pain. †When you visit her workplace, it is like walking into a gym.† There is an array of equipment including parallel bars, stationary bikes, treadmill, Cybex pulley system, leg press and back extender and a new machine called a Biodex, used to regain balance.† There are also balls, free weights, and a dry whirlpool machine used as fluido therapy.†
Physical therapists work on patients with orthopedic, neural (stroke or Parkinsonís) needs and those who are injured and need to get back in shape to return to their jobs.† They also do pre-employment screening for companies that require heavy lifting and endurance.† Patients with lymphedema, often breast cancer survivors are also helped.† Treatment includes massage, the use of passive modalities such as ultrasound, heat and ice and, even if it is painful, exercise on the equipment.
The Rehab Hospital also employs occupational and speech therapists.† And because physicians are so busy, these therapists are often the main source of answers for day-to-day recovery.† They are often the main inspiration in a patientís recovery.
Sandy became interested in physical therapy after meeting a patient and his wife at the hospital. †While the patient was being transferred to the mat table to exercise, she sat next to his wife, who said:† "When he got into his motorcycle accident, all of the doctors on Oahu said he would be paralyzed from the neck down.† However, through his determination and the help of one physical therapist who believed in him, he got this far!"† The man was using weights to exercise his arms and upper body and was practicing to walk using the parallel bars. †Sandy said, ďShe cried and I cried and I thought what if I could be that one person to help someone meet or (try meet) their goals despite what all the doctors said."
††††††† The easiest thing about being a physical therapist is teaching and educating her patients their therapy.† The hardest thing is getting patients to comply with their exercises and correcting the bad habits, which prevent their recovery.†† In her twelve years at the Rehab Center she has met people of all ages, races, backgrounds and interests. "I think Iíve I`d learned just as much from them as they do from me.† Therapy sessions are not all about exercises.† We also develop friendships."
Sandy is a 1985 graduate of Waiakea High School.† In 1991, she graduated from Pacific University in Forest Grove, California with a degree in physical therapy. †Her most memorable moments at Waiakea were the fun she had during her senior year.† She is busy raising her three children Jake, Danielle and Kianna, who are active in basketball, tennis and gymnastics.