Dr. Tracy Frese completed her Bachelor of Science in Physical Therapy at Maryville University in 1998 and her transitional DPT at St. Ambrose University in 2007. She has worked as a PT in the outpatient setting and currently works at Blessing Hospital in Quincy, IL. She enjoys utilizing her skills in a variety of settings including acute care, inpatient Rehab, and a skilled nursing unit. She is also the coordinator for student affiliations at her facility. She enjoys traveling, exercising, and spending time with her family.
The IRQTC sat down with Tracy to find out more about how RQTC has influenced her life and work.
IRQTC: Tracy, tell us a little bit about what you do and what your life is like.
Tracy: I am married with young children, and I have been practicing physical therapy for 17 years. I started out as an outpatient physical therapist, and for the last 13 years, I have been in a hospital setting in acute care, inpatient rehab & a skilled nursing facility. As I work in a float position, I get to experience different settings in the hospital. This variety gives me a chance to see patients at different levels of rehabilitation.
IRQTC: How did you learn about Tai Chi?
Tracy: Pretty much through you! I had heard of it before, but never really pursued it. Then I went to your Falls Prevention Strategies seminar — thinking it was just literally going to be what the topic was — and when you had as much to say about Tai Chi as you did, it really sparked my interest. I thought, this is kind of a new thing that no one in our area, to my knowledge, is doing; and this might be an avenue for me to do something different to help patients that we see here.
IRQTC: Very cool. How has Rehabilitative Qigong and Tai Chi helped you in your practice and in your life so far?
I learned a lot from abdominal breathing as well as slow motion and vision, and I immediately came back from the training and started applying the techniques with the patients that I could.
I had some instant success with a person who had a CVA, and he was very enthused about it and he enjoyed doing it. I had taken the module on the cross mapping and the different things you can do with that, so I had him do some of the mental imagery and working with his arms as well as his legs. Two days later he said, “You really worked me over well, I really appreciate that. I feel so much better!” Then the therapist that worked with this patient the next day said, “Wow he’s really doing so much better than he was a few days ago.” It was fun for me working with him and he was the first candidate that I had that I felt like I could really apply these principles.
A lot of the patients I see are too acute, and I know you said we could do some of the things in sitting, and I’ve done some of that, but this is one I could do some standing things with. So it was enjoyable for me to learn so quickly what you taught us and then apply it right away to a patient who was motivated and saw positive results really quickly.
IRQTC: Fantastic, we love hearing those stories, and especially that what we teach can be applied immediately.
Tract: Yes, and that’s what I loved about your course. These are all things that I can instantly start doing right away with a good amount of my patients; every day I can do some form of it.
IRQTC: What else did you take away from the Fundamentals course?
Tracy: The idea of the prevention of the disuse atrophy when you have an immobilized extremity and doing the mental imagery and exercises on the other extremity to help offset that. That’s something I see so much here between our orthopedic patients and our neurological patients, and I just felt like the mental imagery is something I never learned much about. We always treat the other extremity but I didn’t realize that it could actually have such profound effects on the one that’s immobilized, like we learned from you.
IRQTC: So the cross mapping had a pretty big impact on you. Now, why would you recommend the fundamentals program to other rehab professionals?
Tracy: I think because it’s supported by evidence, and everything we do now, we like to have it supported by evidence. So it’s nice knowing that this has the evidence to back it up. Also, it’s pretty easy to use as well as apply, and it also benefits the clinician too, because you get the experiences out of it as well.
It’s something new in this area that I am in, we don’t do a lot of Tai Chi, so I feel like it’s something different and that’s what appealed to me the most; it’s something I can do to improve myself as a clinician as well as the patients that I treat.
IRQTC: Thanks for sharing, Tracy. One more question: where would you like to grow from here with your Rehabilitative Qigong & Tai Chi studies?
I want to just start using it more with the patients that I see, get a little more comfortable with it. I feel like I have a great foundation for it, but I feel like I really need to just do more of it.
And then eventually I would like to start some other programs. We have a lot of patients around here with Parkinson’s, and we don’t have a lot of continuous rehab for them. We send them to outpatient therapy for a few weeks and then they have to be discharged. So I think doing some sort of a group setting with some patients with neuro conditions would be my ultimate goal to help some of the population here in this rural setting.
IRQTC: That’s fantastic, what a wonderful idea, especially because funding for specific, individualized visits is shrinking. Because more people are being discharged sooner, or moved through the system faster, community classes are going to become so vitally important for people.
Tracy: I think that’s the need, and when I came back from the class and did a little search on my area, and who was doing it, I found a couple instructors, and they were all at community colleges in more of a wellness setting instead of a rehabilitative setting.
I did a short survey with other rehab staff, when I came back from the seminar, and only a couple staff members had done Tai Chi, and only a few have heard of it. This was something new for our organization, so I’m kind of excited about it. You definitely sparked my professional interest!