Donald Showalter PT, CHT

Donald Showalter PT, CHT

I like a challenge to solve: my job as a therapist is to solve my patient’s physical and functional problems they bring to me. If we don’t understand it, we can’t fix it and not all cats (or shoulders, backs, necks, knees, hands, etc.) are the same.

I'm an “old guy”, with over 36 years of therapy experience. I attended therapy school at New York University, where I graduated with honors. I subsequently spent over 3 years on graduate work in anatomy and physiology at Emory University before returning to clinical practice. Over the years I’ve taken numerous continuing education courses from world recognized experts in problems of the neck, back, jaw, knee, shoulder, headaches, nerves, chronic pain conditions, foot and upper extremity (and let’s not forget golf and sports problems). In 2004 I became a Certified Hand Therapist (CHT), one of about 5,000 world wide. I have completed the entire series of courses for both the Canadian Manual Therapy certification program, the Rocabado certification program and am eligible to test for certification as an orthopedic therapy specialist by the American Physical Therapy Association. I am by training a manual therapist, meaning I am a hands-on therapist working the various muscles and tissues of the body so they function and work better. A good evaluation of someone’s problem(s) is essential in manual orthopedic therapy and is invaluable if I am going to be successful in helping someone. A diagnosis does not differentiate subtleties that can make the difference between success, partial success, or failure in many cases. I like a challenge to solve: my job as a therapist is to solve my patient’s physical and functional problems they bring to me. If we don’t understand it, we can’t fix it and not all cats (or shoulders, backs, necks, knees, hands, etc.) are the same. Rotator cuff tears, as one example, come with multiple variations and combinations. I no longer live to work, but I work to stay at the front edge of new developments in my field. I owe that to my patients, the doctors who rely on us, and our community.

 I also spent some time teaching science and therapy concepts for both Life College and Brenau College, both in Georgia. I was an instructor in anatomy at Life College for a year. It was an interesting experience teaching and interacting with chiropractic students and teachers. In the 1980’s I was an Adjunct Associate Professor of Physiology at Brenau College for 5 years. I also taught physical therapy for TMJ (jaw pain and headaches) disorders for a number of years with the dental TMJ for Framework Seminars and Framework International. I have also given lectures/talks including the Georgia State University School of Nursing and the Georgia Rheumatism Society, and to other physical therapists in Florida on electrical stimulation for pain control.

 

Professional practice requires a sense of responsibility to patients. Continuing education is a key factor in clinical competence. I have been fortunate to have taken courses, and several times entire series of courses, from some of the best therapists, doctors and clinicians in the world. They have shaped my appreciation for the intricate interrelationships of the body and in how the body functions. They have also helped me develop a more thoughtful approach to treating problems, with the ability to adapt my therapy to the individual differences between patients. I’ve also been able to talk with these teachers about ideas and concepts, occasionally influencing their thinking as well as being influenced by theirs. I can humorously say that I taught a well known Australian therapist about 'Duck' tape, as she reminded me at a symposium several years after I attended her course. I was astonished that she remembered me as “Don from Atlanta, who taught me about 'Duck' Tape”.

 

Life hasn’t been a bowl of cherries for me, either. I have had several surgeries and injuries, including three on my hip. I’ve got some idea of what you are going through, since I’ve been through a few myself. But it’s where you and I go from here that counts, what we make of it. What we do today creates our future for tomorrow.

 

I enjoy my family, golfing, helping golfers, reading, philosophy, what makes people tick (behavior) and too many other things to mention. I’m sort of a fix-it guy, a problem solver. That’s one of the reasons I like golf -- I constantly have to tinker and fix it. It’s also why I like my work, sorting out what’s going on with patients. I also love to compete, and hope that I’m a good sport. I was on 3 high school championship track teams and was runner-up state champ my senior year in high school (despite my limited athletic talent). I also earned 3 varsity letters in track (high jumper) in college. I’m a high achiever and picky about details. I believe hard work will pay dividends. I have two great daughters of whom I am very proud, and am married to a very special woman. It did not happen by accident. My Philosophy Therapy is about teamwork. The therapist is the analyst, coach, teacher and problem solver, but the patient is the key to success. The therapist is the navigator who sets a course for the clinical problems, and may be the mechanic who makes broken or damaged parts work again. If the pilot, navigator and mechanic work together, the plane will get to it’s destination. Hence, teamwork. Patients should have some understanding about their problems, what is possible, and what the general course of therapy will be. They should have an idea about what their role, and responsibilities, in therapy will be. My job is to get someone better to the greatest extent possible. Therapy is about restoring function, and then one’s activities and minimizing problems that limit function and activity. It is also about improving one’s ability to function at higher levels, such as sports conditioning and training.