My Story – Joanna Schechter (Toronto Physiotherapist)
I always thought I wanted to be a doctor. My father was a doctor, my uncle was a doctor, and several of my parent’s close friends were doctors. However, I discovered how I was meant to spend my career when I was a teenager and had retired from competitive gymnastics. I began to coach recreational gymnastics as a part time job on the weekends, and in one of my classes there was an 8 year old girl with special needs. Chelsey had low tone and poor coordination but, no formal diagnosis. She was so sweet, always smiling, and was so appreciative to be in a class with age-matched able-bodied peers.
My girls were working on skills on the high beam including, cartwheels, handstands, and front rolls, none of which Chelsey was able to do. In fact, Chelsey was working on walking forwards on the low beam 6 inches from the floor with physical assistance. I remember seeing a look of disappointment on her face when she watched the other girls up on the high beams. I decided to try something to make her feel like she was just as capable as everyone else in the group. I pile up several mats, one on top of each other, all around a high beam, and assisted Chelsey up onto this high beam. Chelsey was able to successfully walk on this high beam, like the rest of her team. The only difference was she was holding onto my hand, and when she fell off, she only fell 4 inches onto the piled mats below.
It was this defining moment that made me realize I wanted to work in the field of physiotherapy. I wanted to be in an area where I have the privilege of spending time with clients, observe and feel how their bodies work, and help them reach their own personalized goals.
– Joanna Schechter, PT