Physical therapy services offered at Kirk

By Ms. Rachel PonderNovember 9, 2023

Sgt. Hosier, a pt assistant, watches patient River Counterman at Kirk.
Sgt. Jeremiah Hosier, a physical therapist assistant, watches while patient River Counterman performs a tap-down exercise at Kirk U.S. Army Health Clinic.
Counterman, a military family member and high school football player, is receiving PT to rehabilitate a knee injury.
(Photo Credit: Rachel Ponder)

ABERDEEN PROVING GROUND, Md. — October is physical therapy month, and the theme for this year is “The value of PT.” To celebrate, the PT clinic at Kirk U.S. Army Health Clinic created an educational display with a whiteboard, where patients can share their PT successes.

For example, one patient wrote, “Awesome team, they gave me hope and fixed me.”  Another patient wrote, “better mobility.”

Dr. Laura Mink, a physical therapist with Kirk, says physical therapy can add to the quality of a patient’s life by improving mobility and athletic performance.

Mink said she hopes highlighting the benefits of PT will cause more people to incorporate it into their

health management plan.  Kirk U.S. Army Clinic offers a various PT services for TRICARE beneficiaries, she said.

“[We see a] good mix of Soldiers, retirees, and family members,” Mink said.

According to the American Physical Therapy Association, “Physical therapists are movement experts who improve quality of life through prescribed exercise, hands-on care, and patient education.”

The PT team at KUSAHC consists of two physical therapists, Mink and Dr. Sarah Wachtel,

and three PT assistants, Christopher Lutes, Deborah Trabue, and Sgt. Jeremiah Hosier, the non-commissioned officer-in-charge.

Mink said patients commonly visit the clinic for pain management for musculoskeletal issues “from head to toe.” Many people turn to PT for rehabilitation after surgery or an accident.

Studies show that PT is cost-effective, Mink said. It can help reduce the need for medication, surgeries, and prevent future injuries and chronic diseases. It can also help patients return to work or their favorite hobbies sooner.

Additionally, PT addresses issues with the vestibular system, which is the body’s system of hearing and balance. Patients experiencing vertigo, dizziness, or have a concussion can receive care at the clinic.

Also offered at the clinic are non-medication alternatives like trigger point dry needling and battlefield acupuncture. Trigger point dry needling uses needles to decrease muscle tightness, increase blood flow and reduce pain. Battlefield acupuncture was developed by Dr. (Col.) Richard Niemtzow in 2001, to deliver pain relief efficiently in combat situations by using acupuncture points within the ear.

Niemtzow, who served in the Air Force, was the full-time physician acupuncturist in the Armed Forces.

“The ear has pain receptors for different parts of the body,” Mink explained. “We use acupuncture into the ear for chronic pain, headaches.”

According to Mink, an advantage of receiving PT treatment at KUSAHC is that patients can directly schedule an appointment with the PT clinic. They do not need a referral, so patients can receive care quickly.

Improving performance 

Mink said in addition to pain management, the clinic can help patients who want to improve their performance, including running mechanics. When the clinic was remodeled in 2021, it was expanded to have more equipment for the Army Combat Fitness Test.

The clinic also provides unit outreach services, meaning providers can give feedback to Soldiers at their unit physical training sessions. Providers can offer courses on injury prevention and improving performance.

 Mink, who has worked at the clinic since 2016, said she enjoys working at KUSAHC because it is focused on patient care.

“That means I have more time to work with patients,” she said.

She also appreciates the dedication to fitness of the Soldier population.

“They are high-level, they are really athletically fit, and they have a good understanding of the exercises and components of fitness. It makes building the programs a lot of fun.”

For more information

Kirk is open from 7:30 am to 4:30 pm Monday through Friday.  Appointments are made through the Kirk Call Center by calling (410) 278-KIRK (5475) or Toll-Free (866) 756-5475; 07:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday, closed weekends and federal holidays and the web-based appointment system, TRICARE online,

For more information about physical therapy services, visit