Physical Therapist Cassie Alderks Joins Rockford Spine Center
Specialty Practice Adds to Its Team of Professionals
Rockford, Ill. (October 6, 2016) – Physical Therapist Cassie Alderks, P.T., D.P.T., recently joined the Physical Therapy Department at Rockford Spine Center (RSC). She will work with staff to provide a variety of services and care to patients.
Alderks earned a bachelor’s degree in exercise science and a doctorate in physical therapy from Carroll University in Waukesha, Wisconsin. She conducted research during her graduate training and presented at the national conference of the American Physical Therapy Association, of which she is a member.
Rockford, Ill. (October 11, 2016) – Rockford Spine Center Physical Therapist Assistant Dana Smitley recently completed a continuing education course on identifying and implementing appropriate treatments and interventions for patients with vestibular disorders and balance dysfunctions.
The course, “Evaluation and Treatment of Patients with Dizziness and Balance Disorders: A Comprehensive Approach Through Vestibular Rehabilitation Therapy,” was presented by Saravanan Chockalingam, P.T., D.P.T., C.L.T., C.Y.T. He is a physical therapist specializing in vestibular disorders and a member of the Vestibular Disorders Association (VDA).
According to the VDA, 30 percent of people over the age of 65 have dizziness as a common symptom. Often times, dizziness is treated with medications to address nausea and vertigo without addressing the source of the dizziness. Certain causes of dizziness can be resolved within one physical therapy session without medications.
Smitley joined RSC in 2015 and holds an associate’s degree in applied science for physical therapist assistants from Blackhawk Technical College. Her practice has centered on outpatient orthopedic rehabilitation.
Stephen Gabriel, M.D., remembers the shoulder discomfort coming “out of the blue” on a Wednesday back in February 2016. The pain gravitated to his neck and then escalated. By day three, he recalls, he couldn’t lift his arm.
When you’re an orthopedic surgeon, this is an especially troubling development. “I could probably gut it out through the pain, “says Dr. Gabriel, a general orthopedic surgeon at KSB Hospital in Dixon. “However, the loss of motor function was the biggest issue.”
A call to his friend and professional colleague, Rockford Spine Center Surgeon Fred Sweet, M.D., was the first step. They began with an MRI and knew immediately that surgery was the solution.
“Dr. Gabriel’s deltoid function had deteriorated quickly and he was unable to lift his arm to put on a surgical mask,” recalls Dr. Sweet. “I recommended a C4-C5 anterior cervical discectomy and fusion (ACDF).”
This procedure removes a herniated or degenerative disc in the neck. Surgeons typically make an incision in the throat area to reach the front of the spine and make the repair.
“It might have gotten better without doing the surgery but it might not have,” says Dr. Gabriel. “We needed to do it. I woke up from the surgery and the pain was gone.”
Today, six months later, his strength has returned to nearly 95 percent, he says, and he continues to do physical therapy.
“The progress was very quick and each day was a bit better,” says. Dr. Gabriel. “It was very surprising how quickly I was able to get back to work. I paced myself and was right back into it.”
Dr. Gabriel has been a colleague of Dr. Sweet’s for many years and guesses he’s referred more than 300 patients to him during that time. That relationship brought him peace of mind when he was facing surgery.
“Dr. Sweet is a professional and I really trust him,” says Dr. Gabriel. “I was very confident when I called him and did not hesitate to follow his recommendations.”
While some patients are often reluctant to visit a surgeon, Dr. Sweet says surgery is often the last thing he’s considering when working with a patient.
“I try first to understand who they are, how their condition or disease affects them and what the best way is to help them,” he says. “I explain their options and sometimes surgery is one of them. Careful selection is the key to good results.”
Dr. Sweet completed the surgery on a Tuesday and Dr. Gabriel was back at work that Thursday, seeing patients, and doing surgery on Friday.
“I was back at it very quickly and it was very fortunate that I didn’t need a more significant procedure,” he says. “I was also lucky to have the motor deficit affect my shoulder and not my hand. I saw patients three days later and was back in the OR as a surgeon, not a patient.”