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PT Rebels Podcast | Dr. Gina Fick, PT, ScD

A Journey With Sjogren’s Syndrome: How Physical Therapy Transformed This Patient’s Life!


I am an athlete. My joy lies in competition, both against my own potential and against others.  My highs come from achievement, from working towards a goal with a team or alone. I might achieve my ultimate goal, I might not, but the journey is my happy place no matter what else might be going on in my life. I took for granted the ability to move my own body: injuries happened, then mechanical repairs, and you move on.

Then the unimaginable happened.  I woke up one morning and could not seem to take in enough oxygen to walk across the room.  I was crawling around the house to get from one room to the other.  I’ll spare you the details of the ordeal, but I came to learn that I had Sjogren’s Syndrome.  I likely had had it for a while and never knew it, but something had accelerated it into a crisis (likely Covid).  It took a year to figure this out.  During this time, my muscles completely atrophied. I weighed 94 pounds.  I could not lift a 3lb dumbbell without gasping for air. For another year, I tried different activities every day including yoga, walking around a local park, and doing basic resistance exercises.  I would have limited success with activity, and then I would crash into a full system flareup.  I lost my job in aerospace as I could not handle a 50 mile commute each way to the office plus a 10-hour workday, the required team social activities in the evening (golf, happy hours, etc), and travel.

I have never believed modern allopathic medicine helps those like me. I studied human biochemistry for 30 years, ate “clean” since 1991, and even gave advice to physicians and trainers.  So, I wasn’t walking into this situation blind.  However, Sjogren’s Syndrome destroyed me.  It was unpredictable, damaging, aggressive, and then passive. I needed help, and I needed to get control and reestablish my foundation again.  I have trusted physical therapy over the years as both a preventive and a rehabilitative source, and I understood that a good PT could work wonders through systems thinking and corrective movement.

After some searching and interviewing local physical therapists, I was lucky enough to discover Fick PT and Sports Performance.  The website alone struck a chord with me, so I set up an appointment with Dr. Gina Fick.  The intake forms were very complete, with a lot of room for my own words, my own points, and my own story. It was not a canned generic data intake process.  I wasn’t a number.

Meeting with Dr. Gina was cathartic.  Her own story allows her to understand the personal impacts, the emotions, and the sense of loss that an athlete feels when they are unable to move their body and unab le to do things that are second nature to them-what they crave.  She spent so much time evaluating me, understanding me, her eyes were not on the clock. One human to another, forming a team to achieve a goal.

I signed up and began working with her immediately and chose to invest in a treatment plan that I believed in, out of my own pocket. I underwent lots of treatments and mobility work to ease my discomfort and address areas of inflammation and overall physical deterioration from lack of use.  Dr. Gina took time to listen and understand how my body responded from one treatment session to the next. We moved on from focusing primarily manual therapy treatments to manual therapy with corrective exercises focused on balance and stability. Then we progressed to the machine I call the “miracle” … the Alter G treadmill.

Fick PT & Sports Performance has a superb mix of rehabilitative tools and recovery tools, but this Alter G treadmill… it’s a gamechanger!  Simply put, this unique machine uses air to lift your body weight off your legs, allowing you to walk or run without stressing your joints beyond their ability.  I cried the first day I was on it.  It was the first time in 2 years that I could move my body normally. I began using the AlterG treadmill as often as I could, and we saw my cardiovascular system and muscles responding, rebuilding, and REMEMBERING the sheer bliss of movement.

By working with top therapists that Dr. Gina Fick has cherry picked for her practice (THE BEST!), I was able to progress from crawling across the floors of my home to get from one room to the next to being able to complete a 5-mile walk (45 – 60 min spurts as fast as 3.8mph) in 4 months. Now, 6 months later, I’m lifting weights, doing more challenging exercises such as RDLs, squats, and medicine ball work. My mobility has increased, my frozen shoulder is gone, and a lot of my inflammation is gone. 

I cannot speak highly enough of Fick PT and Sports Performance, especially if you have an autoimmune condition.  Do NOT assume your active life is over.  Come and see them.  Try the Alter G. The difference in me is incredible.  I’m not what I was before, but I am thinking about competing again in different sports!  I’ll have this condition forever but having a team like Dr. Gina’s there with me to reinforce my belief that I am not a victim, but a challenger makes me feel like I can achieve every possibility open to me!

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Gina Fick

Fick PT & Performance

"We Empower You To Recover From Injury As Quickly And Safely As Possible In Order To Optimize Your Function And Maximize Your Athletic Potential."


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