PT Profile: Michael Lehr

We are very excited to introduce you to and give a warm welcome to Michael E. Lehr PT,DPT,OCS,CSCS, who will be joining the NAIOMT guest faculty to teach two new specialty courses coming up focused on Instrument-Assisted Soft Tissue Mobilization and Neuromuscular Exercise Prescription. (Stay tuned for more info on those and browse upcoming manual therapy learning opportunities in the meantime!) 

Michael E. Lehr, PT, DPT, OCS, CSCS

Michael is currently a Clinical Associate Professor Lebanon Valley College, has worked with the MLB, and has presented his work nationally and has been published internationally in the areas of orthopedics, sports medicine, and strength and conditioning.

Why did you decide to become a PT?

My first exposure to PT came at 16, when I injured my knee playing high school football. I always had an interest in sports and physical activity, and my first experience with PT was a positive one. This experience started me down this career path. After looking back, my core values and personal attributes seemed to have kept me on this path, despite professional challenges I experienced along the way. I love interacting with people, problem solving, and most importantly seeing the fruits of my labor through the eyes of the most important person in this process—the patient. Seeing progress, and embracing the accomplishments of my patients provides satisfaction to me and fuels my professional motivation.

What topics get you fired up about the PT field and healthcare? 

Value-centered care and how PT can help fulfill our role as “movement experts” gets me fired up. Breaking down movement patterns from an assessment and/or screening standpoint followed by rebuilding efficient movement patterns are key skill sets within our “professional DNA.” If given the opportunity, I feel PTs can offer a unique skill set that can be utilized, not just from a rehabilitation “patch and fix” standpoint, but address “Neuromusculoskeletal Health” at the preventative level. As “value-centered” healthcare environments continue to emerge—healthcare systems, and the patients/clients we serve demand increased efficiency of care—are we up for this challenge?! I strongly believe we can only meet this challenge by raising the bar and embracing evidenced based practice.

What do you think continuing education does for PTs?

Continuing education is an integral part of professional development. As a physical therapy professional committed to lifelong learning, continuing education experiences create an opportunity to learn key clinical skill sets that enhance clinical practice. We not only build on traditional foundational concepts that have stood the test of time and continue to be applicable in today’s clinical environment, but shift paradigms to modern clinical practice advances. Continuing education serves as a viable platform for increasing our knowledge base in an environment that promotes sharing the intellectual capital that is abundant in our profession.

Do you think it’s important for PTs to have mentors? 

I have been extremely fortunate to have had the honor of a variety of mentors in my career. These mentors transformed my clinical practice by reshaping my perspectives first—then my clinical skills. Mentors, such as Gray Cook, Kyle Kiesel, Phil Plisky, and Lee Burton made me realize the importance of functional movement and how it is the centerpiece of neuromusculoskeletal management—and the essence of my professional identity. Brett Windsor, Fellow, colleague, and friend, whose leadership, drive, and commitment to excellence in manual therapy opened my eyes to see what my hands can do to better serve my patients/clients. Roger Nelson, McMillan Recipient, FAPTA, colleague, and friend—who’s vision and passion for our profession was unmatched—and I was fortunate he took me under his wing in academia. He revealed an economics of healthcare, while never abandoning “value-centered care with a patient-centered focus.” And last but not least my colleagues and students over the years that have challenged my perspectives and helped me evolve on a daily basis.

Why do you teach?

As an agent of change, I am committed to improving myself and enhancing clinical practice within our profession. Through servant leadership, I embrace my professional role by teaching skill sets that align with evidenced based practice and value-centered care. I am committed to being a lifelong learner, and I believe the best way to truly learn something is to teach it. I also feel it is my professional responsibility to pay it forward in regards to my mentor’s knowledge that was passed on to me.

What changes would you like to see made in the PT field over the next ten years? 

Continuing to embrace our professional identity as “movement experts”—and with that, committing to fulfilling of responsibility of refining neuromusculoskeletal management practices that fosters value-centered care.

Also, advocate preventative and human performance initiatives that can capitalize on our professional expertise.

What advice would you give new PTs and/or students?

Enjoy and embrace your learning experiences. Choose your mentors wisely, they will reshape your lives and the patients you serve. And last but not least…. WORK Hard, Play HARDER! Whether you know it or not, these are some of the best years of your life—enjoy them. “Per Carpe Diem”

About Michael E. Lehr PT,DPT,OCS,CSCS

Mike received his B.S. in Health Science from Lock Haven University in 1995. He then completed his MPT from the University of the Sciences in Philadelphia in 1999, and earned his Doctor of Physical Therapy degree from Temple University in 2008. In 2006, the American Board of Physical Therapy Specialties recognized him as an Orthopedic Clinical Specialist. He was also appointed to the Specialty Academy of Content Experts in 2009, where he served for two terms. He has been a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist by the NSCA since 1999. His research interests and current projects include: clinical decision making within musculoskeletal management, manual therapy, neuromuscular exercise prescription, injury risk in athletes, and blended learning environments in higher education. In addition to an extensive orthopedic and sports medicine background in a variety of patient populations, Mike has had experience providing physical therapy on the PGA and LPGA Tours. In March of 2012, he worked with a Major League Baseball (MLB) organization by administering fundamental movement tests to enhance the health of the professional athlete. He has served as primary investigator in the area of fundamental movement testing and injury prediction, and serves as a consultant to the Lebanon Valley College’s sports medicine department. He has presented his work nationally and has been published internationally in the areas of orthopedics, sports medicine, and strength and conditioning. Mike currently holds an appointment of Clinical Associate Professor in Lebanon Valley College’s DPT program, and serves as a mentor and consultant to the orthopedic residency program in Central Pennsylvania. He was appointed to the advisory board of the Center for Excellence in Teaching and Learning at Lebanon Valley College, as well as the Technology Task force. He maintains his clinical practice in the outpatient and sports medicine setting.

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