In October, Rooks County Health Center’s Director of Rehabilitative Services, AJ Thomas, PT, DPT, MS, will work with Olympic and Paralympic athletes as a volunteer physical therapist for the United States Olympic Committee (USOC) at the Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, Colo. Thomas recently accepted a nomination from the USOC to serve a five year volunteer term.
Thomas is among a pool of 25-50 physical therapists from across the country that will be asked to support the Olympiads and medical staff for two week periods at Olympic Training Centers in Colorado Springs, Colo., Lake Placid, N.Y., or Chula Vista, Calif. As a volunteer, he’ll work with the USOC’s full time medical staff to provide collaborative, integrated and multidisciplinary health care services to athletes.
“I may volunteer up to twice a year or just every other year—it will depend if I can dedicate the time away from home and our hospital,” said Thomas. “I hope that my experiences with the Olympiads will allow for more diverse interventions and better care of our local athletes, even weekend warriors.”
In addition to the USOC nomination, Thomas is now a Board Certified Sports Specialist—one of only 10 in Kansas. This new certification allows Thomas to continue to work with local athletes as well as assist Aleesha Wilson, RCH Athletic Trainer, with game coverage. Thomas also is serving a two year term for the American Physical Therapy Association House of Delegates, which guides policies regarding the practice of physical therapy in the country.
Thomas hopes to make sure that rural and Critical Access Hospitals like RCH have a voice at the national level and to see RCH become a hub for sports and orthopedic care for any age patient. RCH hosts orthopedic surgeons to meet patient needs through outpatient clinics, and Thomas works with a well-rounded staff in the rehab department.
“We have an expertly trained staff that can give the time and compassion needed to rehabilitate patients. I truly believe it is our team at RCH and everyone involved in their care from admissions staff to medical staff that makes a patient’s health experience better,” said Thomas.
Thomas’ first rotation will take place October 11 – October 25, 2015 in Colorado Springs.