VICENZA, Italy -- Caserma Ederle, home to paratroopers of the 173rd Airborne Brigade Combat Team, is also home to a new physical therapy and sports medicine center. It's a good thing as jumping out of airplanes and helicopters can take a toll on the knees after a few years.

"The purpose of the center is to provide evidence-based musculoskeletal rehabilitation services to the Soldier athlete and Vicenza military community within the setting of a wellness and fitness environment," said Christopher Buscema, who has a doctorate in physical therapy and is the supervisor of the center and orthopedic departments at the U.S. Army Health Center Vicenza.

"Basically, we develop rehabilitation exercise programs for individuals with injuries to help return them to their prior level of function," said Capt. Philip Royer, licensed physical therapist for the health center. "Rehabilitation services provided at this facility includes therapeutic exercises, manual therapy, functional rehabilitative training and various modalities such as electric stimulation, ultrasound, heat, and ice treatments. Besides Chris and me, we have two physical therapy technicians who help clients with their exercises."

Typical problems seen the by team include mostly joint (shoulder, knee, ankle, elbow), as well as back and neck pain, according to Royer, who's been in the field for over four years.

"I hurt the rotor cuff in my shoulder," said client Spc. Tim Lucero, a Soldier with SETAF, who was working on exercises with Spc. Jlynn Johnson, one of the physical therapy technicians. "I also have knee problems so I'm working on exercises to strengthen the muscles around that area."

"Our clients are also provided with direct one-on-one instruction and training that allows a patient to transition to an independent fitness program or to the Wellness Center upon discharge from physical therapy," added Buscema, a licensed physical therapist with almost 14 years of experience in the field.

"While most patients are referred by a physician, patients who know they need to physical therapy can make their own appointment," said Royer. "Patients need to make an appointment through the health center appointment system. If they are not sure, they should schedule with their primary care physician first. All appointments should be scheduled at the health center front desk (not at the gym) or by calling the appointment line. All brigade Soldiers need to be seen at the battalion aid station first."