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PT Spotlight: Robin Angus

What inspired you to become a physical therapist?

I grew up playing with two athletic brothers in the Southern California sunshine. As a result, I took many trips to our local hospital’s Emergency Department for treatment of cuts and sprains. When I was three years old, I broke the two bones in my lower leg, was hospitalized overnight, and the next morning proudly proclaimed that I wanted to become a “Nurse-doctor Kramer” when I grew up. It wasn’t until later that I realized that such a profession didn’t exist. However, the combination of my participation in sports and interest in medicine led me to consider physical therapy as a profession. In my freshman year of high school, I job-shadowed a family friend who managed a local hospital’s PT department and quickly realized that PT was the profession for me. I then spent three years volunteering in a hospital PT department and an additional five years working through college and PT school as a PT Aide. I have now completed 33 years happily employed as a licensed PT, so I it looks like I made a wise decision many years ago!

As a Certified McKenzie Specialist, how did you first become interested in the McKenzie Method for spinal patients?

Following the academic portion of PT school at USC in 1981, I completed a two-month clinical rotation in a practice owned and staffed by two McKenzie Institute faculty members. While there, I saw patients’ symptoms rapidly resolve with a methodical active approach to treatment. This was in direct contrast to the passive treatment I was seeing and using for back and neck patients in my other clinical rotations. As a result, I immediately commenced study with the McKenzie Institute’s post-graduate training program and was privileged to spend one-week observing Robin McKenzie, the founder of the McKenzie Method, treat patients in his New Zealand clinic.

Do you only use the McKenzie Method in your treatment with spinal patients?

No, I don’t. Suitable patients for the McKenzie protocol are identified through the initial evaluation process and treatment commences on day one. Once symptoms centralize and movement improves, treatment then proceeds as with my other spinal patients who are not candidates for the McKenzie Method. An eclectic individualized treatment plan is implemented following a comprehensive assessment and understanding of my patient’s functional and work-related goals. My approach is based on the Movement System Impairment paradigm that focuses on restoration of optimal alignment and movement patterns through education, patient practice, and specific therapeutic exercise prescription. Manual therapy techniques to reduce pain and restore mobility and neuromuscular training to optimize neuromuscular control with movement are often included in treatment.

Do you treat areas beside the back and neck?

Yes! I enjoy treating musculoskeletal (i.e., orthopedic) problems and postoperative conditions from all regions of the body. My treatment approach for the pelvis and extremities uses the same principles and procedures as outlined for the back and neck.

What makes the Puget Sound region a special place to be a practitioner?

I spent the first part of my career managing several clinics and treating patients in Los Angeles. When my family moved to Seattle in 1992, I began working at TEAM Physical Therapy with a group of very experienced, talented, and knowledgeable therapists. I quickly discovered that this region is a mecca for healthcare and I have thoroughly enjoyed working alongside and in collaboration with my PT colleagues and other skilled healthcare providers. I have also been heavily involved with mentoring the next generation of PTs from our local universities. In addition, our patients here are active and motivated, which makes my job fun and rewarding on a daily basis.

How do you enjoy spending time outside of the PT clinic?

Engagement in PT related matters does not stop once I leave the clinic each day. Keeping abreast of professional news and events, current literature, and study of new evaluation and treatment techniques keeps me busy. However, as a part-time employee, I find time to participate in other activities, such as cooking, walking or hiking up to eight miles four days / week, gardening, creating digital multimedia projects, reading, keeping up with current events and my husband’s historical TV shows, and watching USC / Seahawk / UW football and the Seattle Sounders. Most of all, I enjoy quality time spent with my husband and identical twin daughters.

Robin Angus PT, MS, Cert. MDT, has been a physical therapist at Movement Systems Physical Therapy for 15 years and began studying the McKenzie Method in 1981. She performed a two-month clinical internship with McKenzie Institute Faculty following graduation from USC’s Physical Therapy School in 1981 and observed Robin McKenzie treat patients in his New Zealand clinic for one week in 1987. Robin was in the first group of Americans to be credentialed in the McKenzie Method in 1991. In addition, she uses an eclectic approach to her treatment of musculoskeletal dysfunction that draws from 33 years of orthopedic clinical experience in outpatient settings and over 2,300 hours of continuing education. Robin has presented at the American Back Society’s Annual Symposium; taught numerous Back Schools to patients and their families; served as a teaching assistant since 1994 for Diagnosis and Treatment of Movement System Impairments physical therapy continuing education courses by Shirley Sahrmann Ph.D, PT as taught by Carrie Hall PT, MHS; completed a 3 month post graduate residency program in Proprioceptive Neuromuscular Facilitation; and managed several outpatient physical therapy clinics. While employed as a clinical manager for a national company, Robin was appointed Orthopedic Advanced Clinical Specialist. She enjoys treating all types of musculoskeletal dysfunction in the spine and extremities