PTA, Suffolk Community College / BS Physical Education Concentration: Sports Medicine
Richard Viskewich, PTA, AT graduated from Brockport State University in 1989 with a Bachelors of Science in Physical Education and a concentration in Sports Medicine. Rich returned to college earning an Associates Degree in Physical Therapy Assistant Program from Suffolk Community College. Prior to working at Farmingdale Physical Therapy West, Rich has been working as a Physical Therapist Assistant and Athletic Trainer for over 30 years in various settings from high school sports to the collegiate athletic teams, where he was responsible for injury prevention, evaluation, care and rehabilitation of all athletic teams. In conjunction with working with the athletic population, he has always worked in outpatient physical therapy with special interest in the treatment of pre/post op injuries, lower back pain, patellofemoral pain, and foot/ankle pain.
Why Did I become a PTA, Athletic Trainer?
Growing up I was always involved with sports, whether it was playing tennis with family and friends on the weekends, running 10k races or playing high school and travel soccer throughout the year. Not until taking anatomy and physiology as a general studies course in college did I realize how interested I was in learning how the body functions. I chose a career in sports medicine and athletic training, allowing me to stay connected with sports and to pursue my interest in helping others recover from their injuries.
Why Did I Become a PT? Growing up, I had always known that I had wanted to work in the medical field. I knew that my life would be best spent helping people, and the best way I knew how to do that was with medicine. I was a science minded kid, and was always drawn to the science part of the healthcare field. My only problem was that I didn’t like the blood and guts aspect of medicine, so I didn’t know quite where to turn.
In high school, I dislocated my patella playing field hockey. As soon as I fell onto the field, the athletic trainer ran over and assessed my knee. He referred me to an orthopedic doctor and, in turn, a physical therapist. Twice a week I would go to PT to exercise my injured knee, and would supplement my PT on my off days with treatment by our athletic trainer. In a matter of weeks, I was back on the field and back to my best athletic self.
It was then that I realized what I wanted to do with my life. These people healed me, and all they used were their brains and their hands. No blood, no guts, no gore! I loved the fact that these health care workers were active, needing to think on their feet and use their creativity to help patients return to their normal lives. They were doing exactly what I wanted to do.
From there I went on to the University of Delaware’s Athletic Training Education Program where I spent 4 years on the field and in the athletic training room with hundreds of athletes, treating injuries from small bumps and bruises to total reconstruction of dislocated knees, ankles, and elbows. There were fewer things I loved more than seeing an athlete who I saw immediately at the time of their injury return back to their sport without limitations.
As much as I loved the emergency management and on field care aspects of the career, my heart was set on the rehabilitation portion. I spent the next 3 years at Duke University in their Doctor of Physical Therapy Program, where I became proficient in manual therapy, therapeutic exercises, and the mental aspects of healing. I knew that this is how I wanted to spend my life, and couldn’t wait to start.
At Duke, I was exposed to a variety of Physical Therapy settings, from acute care hospitals and inpatient rehab to Division 1 athletics and pediatric home health care. Seeing all of these various settings, I set my heart on outpatient orthopedics. In my opinion, there is so much more that a patient can do once they’ve hit the outpatient setting, and between myself and my patients, our creativity can flow. This is the setting that is the last step between injury and full return to activity, so this is the setting where we have to get people back to their highest level of function. This is the setting where we strengthen and practice baseball swings, swimming strokes, lifting heavy weights for work, or even core stability for carrying a baby. This is where I thrive, and help my patients thrive as well.
I love being a Physical Therapist, and am so lucky that I get to walk into a job every day where I know that I’m helping and healing my patients and getting them back to their fullest lives!
I was the 2006-2007 Julie Moyer-Knowles Outstanding Student Athletic Trainer Award winner. The award was given to a sophomore student athletic trainer who had demonstrated an outstanding record of scholarship, leadership, and service in the Athletic Training Education program and has unlimited potential for future contributions to the athletic training profession.
I was also the 2008-2009 Student Athletic Trainers Club Student Service Award winner. The award was voted on by the members of the Student Athletic Trainers Club and given to the student who demonstrated the most leadership in all aspects of being a student athletic trainer, both in the classroom, on the field, and through volunteer work. I was also the president of the Student Athletic Trainers Club that same year (2008-2009).
Throughout my years in the Athletic Training Education Program, I was a Student Athletic Trainer for the University of Delaware football, track and field, field hockey, and men’s basketball teams. I also worked at a local high school and with intramural sports, providing emergency medical care, taping, bracing, injury management, and injury/post operative rehabilitation. I also volunteered for the Special Olympics of Delaware, The American Cancer Society’s Relay for Life, and various youth sports camps, providing emergency medical coverage for all participants.