Why I Became a Physical Therapist
Dean's Story - Lost Sports Help Dean Yoshimoto Find Life Calling
Life has a way of throwing us curve balls. My first experience with life's unexpected challenges happened when I was only in the 6th grade. I was attending Punahou School and - like most of my classmates - I was thoroughly enjoying sports. I even had a modest amount of success, and finished ¼ inch shy of breaking the school's 6th grade high jump record. I was elated! It's funny how well I remember that after all of these years.
I got hooked on high jumping and loved practicing track after school, but by the time I was in the 7th grade, I began having serious lower back pain every time I exercised. Over time, the pain increased and began to radiate down my left leg, all the way to my foot. It was hard to even walk. I had to reduce my physical activity and wear a back brace throughout the 7th and 8th grade - not exactly what a boy who desperately wants to play sports hopes for.
My parents took me to several chiropractors, but the treatments were unsuccessful. Sometimes the pain would keep me up all night and at times I would have to crawl across the floor just to get to the bathroom. It was only when I saw an orthopedic specialist, Dr. Allen Richardson, that the cause of my pain was revealed - I had a birth defect. Throughout my life, no one in the medical field had noticed that my top sacral bone was malformed and my fifth lumbar vertebrae had slipped forward.
Dr. Allen showed me the x-rays and explained that the L5 had slipped forward on my tailbone, compressing a nerve and causing constant, severe pain. He prescribed a number of treatments including electrical stimulation with hot packs, ultrasound, whirlpool baths, and ice packs. The treatments helped me enough to manage the pain while continuing on with my athletic training.
I was stubborn and I wasn't about to stop participating in sports. In high school, I played football, basketball, and joined the track team. The pain was always there, but I grit my teeth and pushed through it. The games and sportsmanship were just too important, but during my all-important senior year, the wear and tear caught up to me.
Dean Yoshimoto: #22
Football practices were especially tough. The pain during practice became so intolerable that I scheduled a meeting with our Head Coach and told him that I just couldn't do it anymore. I had to quit.
It was devastating. I felt like I had let everyone down: my father, my coach, my friends, my teammates. I couldn't believe that a birth defect was stopping me from playing football with my friends during my most important year of high school.
Dean Yoshimoto: #32
From that day forward, I had to watch the football games from the stands, and that hurt more than almost as much as my back pain. It was then that I asked myself: What else will this condition steal from me? I decided at that moment to learn everything about my condition so I could manage it. I didn't want to spend the rest of my life on the sidelines.
My interest in the allied health field led me to physical therapy and I enrolled in Loyola Marymount University to complete my undergraduate degree. I then attended the University of North Dakota for graduate school to become a physical therapist.
Throughout college, as I studied body mechanics in my text books, I applied what I learned by inventing my own training programs. I experimented with different ways to strengthen my muscles and maintain flexibility. Although I continued having intermittent flair-ups, I eventually learned through trial and error how to properly exercise my core muscles, stretch, and keep my weight down to prevent aggravating the condition. While the training didn't completely stop the episodes, it made them less frequent and less painful. This is how I learned first-hand, that I could overcome my birth defect with the right physical program. Today I have a very active life and enjoy sports.
Dean Yoshimoto and Family
The Result: Yoshimoto Physical Therapy
My birth defect may have kept me from enjoying sports to the fullest degree, but it led me to my life's work. Today when I care for patients, they often sense how strongly I want them to recover. Now you know why. I've walked in my patients' shoes - literally. Even now, I continue to have flair-ups and sometimes I still can't walk because of my birth defect. Whenever that familiar pain shoots down my leg, it reminds me to continue being the most compassionate therapist I can possibly be.
Like my patients, I have lived through the mental and physical challenges. That's why I am willing to do everything necessary to make people feel better. Yoshimoto Physical Therapy hires therapists that are as committed to patient care as I am. That's what our patients deserve, and that's exactly what you'll receive when you entrust your care to us.