With a career that centers around movement, Vanessa Bishline is rarely at rest. When she isn’t caring for her physical therapy patients, she is training as an aerial artist, walking, doing yoga, or practicing to become a Pilates teacher. Vanessa has been a Physical Therapist for 12 years, and that expertise is never far from her train of thought.
“As a PT,” she explains, “I am on it 24/7. I am always thinking about the biomechanics of movement. I can’t help but analyze people as they are walking down the street. It is just something that is ingrained in me.”
Vanessa wasn’t always focused on a career as a PT. In junior college, she thought she would pursue a career as an Occupational Therapist. As she explored her options, she eventually decided that she would pursue a Bachelor’s Degree in Special Education. It was during that time that she met a few students who influenced her decision to become a PT.
“I had a young student with CP, who needed a lot of extra support with her leg movements and overall strength. I was moved by how hard she worked to gain her freedom and independence. Eventually, she began ambulating on her own.
“I had another student who was not as motivated,” Vanessa explains. “This student was too content to sit in their wheelchair and really needed prompting and encouragement to learn to help themselves more.”
Those kinds of experiences helped Vanessa discover that she was meant to pursue a career as a Physical Therapist. Since becoming a PT, she has worked in most settings. She started out working in Pediatrics, but now works in a variety of settings and has come to enjoy interacting with her older patients in skilled nursing facilities. Vanessa enjoys the variety of taking assignments in different therapy settings as she feels it keeps her sharp and provides her with an opportunity to keep all of her skills current.
When not working with her clients, Vanessa is training her own body to maintain her strength and movement skills. The difference for Vanessa is that she utilizes those skills dozens of feet above the ground. Her hobby is aerial acrobatics, so no one can ever accuse her of being afraid of heights. Suspended high above the ground with nothing but a large metal ring (called a Lyra) or aerial silks, Vanessa performs maneuvers that most of us cannot do on terra firma!
According to Vanessa, her aerial training, as well as Pilates, helps her PT career. Being smaller in stature, the training keeps Vanessa strong for patient transfer and handling. Plus, the mental aspect of her aerial training helps her maintain focus and stay engaged in the present, no matter what other factors are around her externally.
Vanessa is currently seeking her certification as a Pilates instructor. She believes that because of the strong interrelationship between Pilates and PT, incorporating the two can be an excellent tool for post-rehabilitation. She is extremely passionate about her hobbies and career and plans to continue pursuing them for as long as she is able. According to Vanessa, being passionate and energetic about everything she does has a positive impact on her patients and allows them to stay in an optimistic frame of reference about their future, no matter what challenges they may be facing.
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