We are so excited to welcome and introduce you to a new guest faculty member to the NAIOMT team. Angela T. Gordon PT, DSc, MPT, COMT, OCS, ATC, FMS has more than 12 years of clinical experience in orthopedic and sports physical therapy, and has been the lead physical therapist for the Washington Nationals Baseball team in 2005 and 2010 to present. She has worked extensively with numerous elite athletes from Major League Baseball, Canadian Football League, and European basketball players, and also works closely with many high school and collegiate overhead throwers and female athletes.
Dr. Gordon earned her Masters of Physical Therapy from Andrews University in Dayton, Ohio in 2002, and her Doctorate of Science from Andrews University in Berrin Springs, Michigan in 2012. She also earned her orthopedic manual therapist certification through NAIOMT in 2012 and became a certified athletic trainer in 2001. In 2012 Dr. Gordon received her dry needling specialist certification and in 2014 she earned her Orthopedic Specialist Certification from the American Physical Therapy Association.
Dr. Gordon has been an adjunct professor and guest lecturer at George Mason University in the athletic training department and clinical instructor to ATC’s and PT students from multiple schools. She has also been a guest lecturer for the VATA conference (2004, 2013), and instructor for continuing education courses for Physiotherapy Associates, Medstar Health, and National Strength Professionals Association. The educational topics she covers include SI dysfunction, Overhead throwers rehabilitation of shoulder and elbow pathologies, ACL rehabilitation and prevention, and Rehabilitation of UCL injuries.
Dr. Gordon is the owner and creator of F. A.S.T.™ (Female Athlete Sports Training program), and in 2013 published an article in the IJSPT related to female athlete injury prevention (Relationship between core strength, hip external rotator muscle strength, and STAR excursion balance test performance in female lacrosse players).
Where do you currently practice?
I currently work at Physiotherapy Associates in Alexandria, VA.
Why did you choose PT as a career?
I always knew I wanted to be in the medical field since I was little. As an athlete and having suffered injuries throughout my athletic career, I came to the decision I wanted to be a physical therapist. I also shadowed and interviewed a physical therapist for a school project when I was in high school that really solidified my decision. I really liked the aspect of being able to see the injury from start to finish and having a closer relationship with the patient. I am truly blessed to wake up everyday and love going to work. It is an amazing feeling to see someone get better. I think God lead me down this path and put me in the career he knew I would excel in.
What led you to working in the MLB? Did you always have a particular interest in sports-specific PT?
As a female athlete I had and have a huge interest in female athlete injuries and injury prevention. Once I graduated from PT school I started my quest to work in sports. As a certified athletic trainer I was able to work closely with local high schools and sports teams part time. I also started working closely with an orthopedic surgeon in the area, Dr. Weimi Douoguih, and treating his patients. Then in 2005 he became the team physician for the Washington Nationals and came to me to be the physical therapist. I remember distinctly saying to him “I don’t know anything about baseball,” he said to me “ You’ll learn, you’re a great PT.” And I learned. I really owe my career and experience in baseball to him, he trusted and believed in me. I am blessed that this opportunity found me and to this day I have never stopped learning and pushing myself to understand as much as I can about baseball. It was a gift given to me and I strive everyday to be the best I can. Treating professional athletes is challenging and keeps me on my toes and I love every minute of it.
Why did you choose to join the NAIOMT continuing education team as a guest faculty member?
I completed my DSc and COMT with Andrews University and NAIOMT in 2012. Going through the program was amazing and fulfilling. I became a better more efficient clinician. It really helped me soar in my role with the pro team. I am grateful for all the education and mentorship I received and would not want to work with any other group to provide quality education to fellow PTs.
What unique perspective do you bring to NAIOMT students enrolled in your courses?
I have the experience of working in real time professional sports. It’s a different environment and way of treating patients. I don’t have 8 visits to make someone better, I have 10 minutes to get an athlete on the field. I have been exposed to hundreds of different programs and gadgets that athletes want opinions on. I have had to come up with programs to suite an array of different conditions and athlete personalities. The experience I have gained from professional sports has really helped me become a better PT and better at streamlining treatment plans for all my patients.
Do you have any influential mentors? Are you currently mentoring someone? How important do you think the role of mentorship plays in the PT field?
I have been fortunate enough to be mentored by some wonderful PTs. Through NAIOMT I had Erl Pettman, Kathy Bergland, Stacy Soappman as mentors. I have also been fortunate through baseball to be able to receive mentorship and advice from Kevin Wilk. I enjoy teaching and helping fellow PTs improve and I think mentorship is the key to success in our profession. Anyone can learn something from a book or a lecture but that doesn’t mean it translates into good quality clinical skills.
What are some of the changes you hope can be made within PT in the next decade?
Direct access that is not restricted. And PTs being able to demonstrate efficient differential diagnosis skills in order allow our profession to order diagnostic tests.
Tell us about a patient-related challenge you’ve faced so far and how you worked through it.
Oh, well there are always challenges in our field that we will face. Currently with the sports population patients I see I have faced the challenges of young athletes and their parents. As a mother myself of three little boys I know I will face these challenges soon from both sides, however, I am utterly flabbergasted at the rising injury rates of our youth athletes. I am seeing boys at age ten getting severe elbow injuries from pitching year round and parents pushing and pushing their kids to do more. Classically, every kid is the next Cy Young winner! What ever happened to letting kids be kids? I could go on for days on this challenging topic.
What is it that makes you a PT worth seeing?
I have been absolutely blessed to have a talent to help patients and athletes. I love what I do and strive to make every patient and athlete feel confident in my care. I never admit to know everything and if I need help I am never hesitate to call one of my mentors. If I can’t make my patients better, I will get them in the hands of the right person who can.
What advice would you give to new physical therapists and students about to embark on their careers?
I get this question a lot when I speak at conferences. Mostly new grads and students all want to come out of school and get into sports physical therapy. My advice to them is always: Do not focus on getting into sports physical therapy right away, you first have to focus on becoming an outstanding well rounded physical therapist. Working is baseball most people think all I do is treat shoulders and elbows and that couldn’t be further from the truth. Baseball players hurt everything from their feet to cervical spine and you need to know how to treat the whole body.
Stay tuned for details on the specialized course Dr. Gordon will be teaching with NAIOMT!
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