By Gia Oney, Landstuhl Regional Medical CenterMay 22, 2018
LANDSTUHL, Germany - When Sgt. Jessica Bowman was placed on a medical profile for a knee injury, her company commander enrolled her into a new Landstuhl Regional Medical Center (LRMC) program designed to rehabilitate Soldiers with injuries and pain. For five weeks, Bowman joined a group of other LRMC Soldiers on profile in the Reconditioning Physical Readiness Training at 5 a.m. every weekday to work on muscle strengthening techniques and movement exercises. The program instructors customized a rehabilitation plan with a goal of better knee mobility, less pain and ultimately the removal of her medical profile.
"My first impression of the R-PRT program was that it was really early in the morning," laughed Bowman. "But the everyday diversity [of exercises] is actually really good."
Fast forward a couple of months and Bowman has become a program instructor and uses yoga to help program participants rehabilitate.
The R-PRT program is led by LRMC physical medicine and rehabilitation specialist Dr. Daniel Rhoades, a major in the Army and the LRMC brigade surgeon. As a sports medicine provider, Dr. Rhoades's approach with a systematic and holistic care plan for injury-riddled Soldiers has helped the program achieve successful results for participants.
"We don't let an injury define an individual," said Rhoades. "In this program, we're giving a lethal hit to injury and making sure Soldiers are ready to fight, not just tonight, but always."
While many other military medical centers and even individual unit master fitness trainers have implemented similar programs around the Army, what makes LRMC's version unique is the on-site care provided by an actual physician -- Dr. Rhoades.
"Soldiers don't have to go back to their physician for something like incomplete profile forms," said Rhoades. "As a physician, if I notice that their profiles need modification, I can contact the Soldier's provider right then and get it taken care of that day. There is no administrative wait time. This reduces a Soldier's time on profile, time in rehab and gets the Soldier back in the fight right away."
As a provider, Rhoades is also able to consult with other medical specialists if the R-PRT instructors see a need for additional services, such as pain management, physical therapy and LRMC surgical services.
The R-PRT program affords Dr. Rhoades the opportunity to functionally assess Soldiers, something he doesn't get to do during a typical patient appointment in the rehabilitation clinic at LRMC.
"I can see where the injuries are while Soldiers are moving," said Rhoades. "Sometimes when Soldiers come to me in the clinic, their injuries aren't always immediately recognizable and there could be issues that can't be seen from a standard exam. If that's the case I'll tell them to meet me in the gym where I can perform specialized physical examination maneuvers to pinpoint issues."
For many Soldiers, the idea of a military medical discharge is daunting.
"I see Soldiers in my clinic who feel that their careers are about to end because of their injuries," said Rhoades. "In physical medicine, we work on non-operative treatments to care for those injuries. We're seeing long-term injuries, some more than 10 years, and we're able to get those men and women back into the fight, not only professionally but personally as well. Soldiers are able to enjoy activities they once did like swimming, hiking, and even ruck [marching]."
Rhoades contributes much of the success of the R-PRT to the lead program instructor, Staff Sgt. Jonathan Bonet, a medical supply specialist and one of LRMC's master fitness trainers.
"Since we started the program just a few months ago, we have successfully rehabilitated 11 of the Soldiers on temporary profile with no participants needing to repeat the cycle," said Bonet.
For now, the R-PRT program is offered only to LRMC Soldiers who are on permanent or temporary profiles; however, the ultimate goal for Rhoades and Bonet would be an expansion to include Soldiers from other units.
"There will always be a need for rehabilitation and strength and mobility training," said Rhoades. "That's why all of us in the program are invested in each Soldier's care. We're going to get them back to being Army fit and ready."