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Physical therapy gets you back on your feet

By Allison Linville

“I always enjoyed science in school and knew I would do something in the medical field,” said Stacy Dolan, a physical therapist at North Valley Physical Therapy (NVPT) in Columbia Falls. Now, Stacy has been a physical therapist for 30 years. “It was a good fit for me – interacting with people, helping them solve the problems they face with their injuries, and figuring out a practical way for them to rehabilitate and prevent future problems.”

North Valley Physical Therapy, a North Valley Hospital clinic, has been operating in Columbia Falls for 32 years.

Physical therapists use their hands to identify issues like spasms or restrictions, too much mobility, and weakness or imbalance in the muscles that could be contributing to a condition. Appropriate exercises are incorporated into the treatment regimen to enhance treatment goals and return clients to their optimal functionality.

Bill Brunett, a physical therapist at North Valley Physical Therapy, explained why someone would want to see a physical therapist. Brunett said, “We are the experts in musculoskeletal injuries and rehabilitation. Sometimes we don’t think that our injuries are serious and we avoid seeing a medical provider. An injury that doesn’t heal in an appropriate time should be evaluated because often, one seemingly minor injury will result in compensations and create other problems.” A radiology diagnostic test may be needed to further evaluate the injury, Brunett explained. He said, “Early intervention is very important.” Generally, physical therapists will see a person after a medical provider has evaluated and referred them, but people often make an appointment based on concern over a chronic injury.

Common injuries for physical therapy are neck, back, lower leg and shoulder injuries. Also, rehabilitation from surgery is common, as is dealing with aging related issues, such as muscle weakness or balance problems.

Another top-notch physical therapist at NVPT is Sue Rucinski, who is enthusiastic about the significant improvements seen from physical therapy. Rucinski is also happy that more people have recognized the benefits of physical therapy and have made it a critical part of their healing plan. She said, “It is remarkable to me to see the increase in utilization of physical therapy services over the years. That speaks to the power and the value of physical therapy and what it can do for so many people.”

Dolan, like Rucinski, mentioned that her favorite aspect of physical therapy is the people. Dolan said, “There is a lot of teaching involved in physical therapy. Demystifying the way the body works and creating a path to wellness is fun.” All physical therapists at NVPT have an intense personal connection to their profession and to helping people get better and regain mobility. As Dolan explained, “Seeing people improve and being part of that is very rewarding.”

North Valley Physical Therapy is located at 235 Nucleus Avenue in Columbia Falls. North Valley Physical Therapy is a North Valley Hospital clinic. To learn more, visit or call (406) 892-2777.