USF Physical Therapy puts active police officer back to work, and riding her champion horse

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A career in law enforcement and a cherished hobby of showing horses were heading toward dead ends for Janise Man-Son-Hing.

Since November 2011, ever-increasing back pain was preventing even the slightest movement from being pain free. Treatment tangents that included intradiscal shots and surgery – even a mention of pain management – left her hopeful, then discouraged.

As a Master Patrol Officer in the Tampa Police Department, she was trained to be on a beat out in the public, patrolling and ready to act in a second. Man-Son-Hing had just qualified in September 2011 to be on the promotional list, but instead was on light duty at a desk fielding calls.

And horse shows came and went, leaving her on the sidelines to watch her supportive husband show her Friesian horse named Rommy.

Life was taking a completely different route than the path Man-Son-Hing had so carefully planned.

Then, in February 2012, a suggestion by Dr. Lisa Misiewicz, a physical therapist she knew well at the horse stables, changed everything, setting her on a course that would free her from back pain and recover her active life, both on the job and off. The suggestion was, “Physical therapy will work for you. You should go see the folks in the USF Health Physical Therapy Center. They have the best doctors there.”

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USF Physical Therapist Kevin Murdoch, DPT, OCS, believes strongly in evidence-based care and his first meeting with Janise Man-Son-Hing meant telling her there would be no short cuts or long shots. He told her, “I believe we can get you better with treatment, but you have to trust me that it will take some time.”

In evidence-based care, treatment decisions are based on quantitative research studies, using only treatments that have been proven to be effective.

“Back pain is common and we see patients with back pain at the USF Health Physical Therapy Center on a daily basis,” said Dr. Murdoch, who is assistant clinical professor in the USF Health School of Physical Therapy and Rehabilitation Sciences, and coordinator of the USF Health Physical Therapy Center.

“And while there is a wide variety of treatments for it, there is limited research showing those treatments work. Taking an evidence-based approach means we use what we know came from the (physical therapy) field and works, some of which comes from own folks.”

Dr. Murdoch is referring to the groundbreaking work in the USF Health School of Physical Therapy and Rehabilitation Sciences that includes a study funded by the U.S. Department of Defense for leading-edge musculoskeletal research intended to benefit active duty soldiers and veterans and improve military preparedness, and a study funded by the U.S. Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to test the effectiveness of back-specific exercises in preventing low back injury and pain among firefighters.

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So, in March 2012, Man-Son-Hing started physical therapy with Dr. Murdoch.

“There was nothing unique in her physical therapy plan, but it was customized to her and took her through a process for building strength one step at a time,” Dr. Murdoch said.

Exercises emphasized manual therapy that included joint mobilization and strengthening activities for her core, legs, hips and upper back, and mild range of motion exercises for her hips and segments of her spine.

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Man-Son-Hing works out in her USF Bulls shoes. She is not only a big fan, she is also an alum.

“During the next three months, I was dedicated to every appointment,” Man-Son-Hing said. “I also did all my exercises as prescribed at home. The pain continued but I did not give up.”

And then it happened.

“I was getting better and the intense pain was leaving my body,” she said.

At that point, Dr. Murdoch and Man-Son-Hing set a series of targeted activities, goals she could aim for.

“We made a target date for me to go back to full duty on patrol, June 1st, 2012,” she said. “It happened. I went back to full duty. Then we set a goal for working at the Republican National Convention, which meant mostly 12-hour days for 12 straight days of patrol duty. We worked hard at PT and I completed this challenge with no issues.

“My next challenges were in October 2012, when I returned to very basic training on my horse, and November 2012, when I had to pass the law enforcement physical assessment test, which had to be completed for me to keep my job. It happened, I passed and did well.”

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A specialized saddle helps Man-Son-Hing stay in good form to protect her back while riding.

For most of 2013, Man-Son-Hing has kept her physical therapy appointments, continuing to build strength and improve endurance at work and on her horse and pass the physical assessment test again in June 2013.

The effort worked. Not only was Man-Son-Hing back on full duty, on Aug. 30, 2013, she received a promotion to Corporal Man-Son-Hing. And in early November 2013, she had her comeback debut and competed in a local horse competition, Harvest Days Horse Show, and won Reserve Champion with her Friesian horse, Rommy.

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Man-Son-Hing was promoted to Corporal in the Tampa Police Department. Photo courtesy of Janise Man-Son-Hing.

PT patient Janise on Rommy at Harvest Days

Man-Son-Hing won Reserve Champion with Rommy at Harvest Days Horse Show. Photo courtesy of Janise Man-Son-Hing.

Summing it up, Man-Son-Hing said, “My life as I knew it was gone until I was referred to the experts at the USF Health Physical therapy Center.”

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Janise Man-Son-Hing was invited to share her story at the 15th anniversary celebration for the USF Health School of Physical Therapy and Rehabilitation Sciences. In telling her story, several times she referred to feeling better as “getting my life back.”

“I just want to thank you for all the professional physical therapy I have received to continue to let me get my life back and move forward beyond my dreams,” she said at the event.

“I am indebted to Dr. Murdoch, and the USF PT staff and center for their expertise and continued dedication to patient needs and research in the field of Physical Therapy. Without this, I would have not been able to gain the level of physical fitness necessary to regain my life.

“It’s amazing what they do there. Thank you for my life back!”

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Photos taken at Avalon Stables, a full service training, boarding and riding facility that specializes in show ring Saddleseat Equitation.

Story by Sarah Worth, photos by Eric Younghans, USF Health Office of Communications