Finding her way in the world of physical therapy
Ashley Moriarty, DPT, knew there was more to physical therapy than just the treatment itself. Luckily, she found a team she could connect with and learn from. Now, she works hand-in-hand with her clients and teammates to create comprehensive treatment plans that don't just look at the musculoskeletal system, but the body as a whole.
I wish I had a positive story of why I became a physical therapist – an injury I overcame, a family member who inspired me, a teacher who really pushed me, but my story is a little more negative (but it turned positive in the end!). I did in fact have physical therapy as a kid, but was it knee pain or shoulder pain, I can’t remember? It was boring and my physical therapist never talked to me. It didn’t really help, I stopped going, and I moved on with my life. Overall, a negative experience.
Exploring the world of physical therapy
Fast forward a few years to high school, college visits and thinking about the future. Physical therapy was always stuck in the back of my mind, but in a way that made me think, “physical therapy has got to be better than what I experienced.” I knew I wanted to work with motivated people and be constantly learning, with every day looking different than the last.
I started looking more into what physical therapy could be and jumped into a six-year program at Boston University. After many classes and clinical rotations and a first job, I kept thinking, “there’s got to be more than this.” Which is how I found myself at Performance, where it’s more than just physical therapy.
I’m lucky that I found a place where the team mentality is that physical therapy is just one aspect of care, one piece of the puzzle. Of course, sometimes physical therapy is the big puzzle piece, but sometimes it’s smaller one or just the first one. Sometimes it’s not even something that you’re missing. Either way, it’s a team approach to care, and everyone works together to connect with our clients and each other.
Never does a day go by that is filled with silence; I am to make physical therapy a pleasant, welcoming endeavor where my client also sees me as a friend, helping them on their journey. Every day, I work hard so that I do not recreate my own experiences with physical therapy for others. I want to be the glue in their health puzzle, not just a part that may get lost.
Putting together the puzzle of health
And in helping my patients and clients put their health puzzle together, I’ve tweaked how I look at my own. It’s easy to say that optimal health is finding a balance between the four pillars (exercise, nutrition, recovery and stress management). It’s also easy to say that it looks different for everyone based on their individual goals and lives.
What’s harder to understand is that even for myself, the achievement of optimal health looks different day to day, year to year. Life is constantly changing and I am constantly adapting, so my journey toward optimal health should also be flexible. What I need today is not what I need tomorrow, and it may look completely different than what I needed six months ago and what I will need a year from now. I’ve learned rest days are good for you, and what you feed your soul is just as important as what you feed your body. Trying a new recipe, walking my puppy, catching up on The Bachelor, or getting a new personal record in a Peloton ride are all aspects of my optimal health.
My takeaway: find what’s important to you and for you, and get started today.
Ashley Moriarty, DPT, ATC, is a physical therapist and certified dry needling specialist based in New Canaan. Before joining Performance, she worked in Boston with both high school and collegiate athletes.
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