Integrating Pilates Into Rehab

By Teresa Wong
Interviewed by Melissa Moniz
Wednesday - February 10, 2010
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Teresa Wong
Manager at REHAB of Nuuanu Outpatient Clinic

Where did you receive your schooling and training?

I did my graduate work in physical therapy at University of California-San Francisco and have been a therapist for more than 17 years. I’ve worked at UCLA under the Department of Orthopedic Surgery as well as the Department of Rehabilitation Services. I’ve also worked in San Francisco in various settings and was involved with various research projects at UCSF.


When did you move to Hawaii?

I actually grew up in Hawaii and graduated from Sacred Hearts Academy. I left when I was 17 for college and stayed in California for 20 years before coming back three years ago.

Can you explain what an out-patient clinic is and the role it plays at REHAB?

Outpatient services is appropriate when someone is able to travel (get in a car) safely and get to our facilities on a regular basis. If someone can’t mobilize safely, then they are either in a hospital-type setting or they have home therapy. So it depends on the level of care and how much mobility they have whether they go to inpatient or outpatient.

Here at REHAB, we are unique in that our staff is very experienced in all areas and can pretty much treat any type of injuries from sports injuries, back and neck injuries, to healing from surgery or more complex patients like spinal cord, stroke and multiple traumas.

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Can you talk about the renovations at the outpatient clinic and how that has added to programs and services offered?

Six months ago we embarked on a revitalization effort of this flag-ship clinic. The renovations were driven by new programs we wanted to bring in, so, for example, you’ll see a custom-designed Pilates studio as part of our new clinic. The renovation was completed in about six weeks beginning Labor Day weekend with the goal of creating an environment that facilitates healing. This translates to an open space that feels warm and welcoming. One of our new programs is Clinical Pilates. Most people have heard of Pilates but don’t really know what it is. They usually associate it with elite athletes, dancers or Hollywood stars. But Pilates has been around since the 1920s and has its roots in the rehabilitation of soldiers. What we’re doing here is taking the principles of this very aggressive and very precise physical training and incorporating it into the rehab program for our patients. This includes someone who just had a knee replacement or a young stroke survivor who’s 30 years old and really needs to rehab as quickly as possible to get back to their lives. We have a full Pilates studio and it’s one of very few fully equipped Pilates studio in a hospital-based outpatient setting in the United States.

Did the staff receive training to use the equipment?

Yes. As physical and occupational therapists, our staff have a deep understanding of anatomy and physical function. What needed to be taught was the theoretical basis of Pilates, which is core activation along with coordinated breathing and precision muscle movements using the equipment. Our therapists are very seasoned, as many of them have been practicing for more than 20 years. They know the body and how it moves, so it’s just learning adjunctive principles and being familiar with the equipment. We did a lot of training sessions, and I’ve gone through formal training with Pilates Advantage here in Honolulu. Our team seems to have fully embraced this new technique into their practice simply because it provides results.


Are there other services that you would like to see added to the clinic?

We have other programs in the queue, and there are some we will be revitalizing, one of which is the aquatic program. We have a beautiful, fully equipped therapeutic pool and trained aquatic therapist here at Rehab. This program is used with all types of patients from those with spinal cord injuries who cannot walk to someone with low back pain or arthritis pain. The water becomes a tool for rehabilitation in that it can provide support for those who cannot stand, along with resistance to work on muscle strengthening. Because the water is heated to a very comfortable temperature, it also helps alleviate pain and therefore allows more movements.

Our goal at REHAB is to continue to bring the highest standard of care to each of our patients and help them rehabilitate toward their fullest potential.

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