WILLIAMSBURG, VA – It was about 10 am on a Thursday morning and physical therapy assistant Bob Dill was going about his daily routine. His next patient was Karen McNabb. McNabb is a regular patient at Comber Phys- ical Therapy, since mid-April when she came in for therapy for her shoulder she had surgically repaired on April 6. She began her plan of care a mere eight days later when she had her initial evaluation with Dr. Bret Schaller, DPT.
It wasn’t until her third appointment that she came into contact with Dill, a West Point, VA native who holds a Bachelor’s of Science in Pre-Physical Therapy from Ferrum College. Dill graduated from ECPI’s PTA school at the top of his class. His focus includes orthopedic treatment and athletic/injury rehab. Bob prides himself in tak- ing a big picture approach when assessing and treating patients. Dill, an avid tennis player, played collegiately at Ferrum, and is also the girls varsity tennis coach at Walsingham Academy. Dill is also engaged to Lea McMillan and is tying the knot with his fiancé this October.
While at Ferrum, Dill played four years (2007-2010) on the men’s tennis squad. He finished his career with 23 singles wins and 18 doubles victories. He was twice named an Intercollegiate Tennis Association Scholar Athlete. Dill was also a three-time member of the USA South’s All-Academic Team, voted Aca- demic All-State once and named to the USA South’s All-Sportsmanship team in 2009. He also worked for Gary Holden in the Sports Information Depart- ment and was Ferrum College’s Student Employee of the Year 2008, the first ever in Ferrum History. Dill continues to give lessons and helps in the Tennis 4 Kids project to gauge young minds to play tennis.
Dill has seen McNabb in more than half of her close to 40 visits. On this day, she began her appointment by having Chris, a PT tech, call her back and warming up on the hand cycle for approximately 10-15 minutes. McNabb described her rehab as a slow process but reiterated she was doing well and her doctor, Dr. Thomas Durbin of Tidewater Physicians Multispecialty Group, is pleased with how her rehab has been progressing. The incident happened in December when she was able to raise her arm over her head one day, and the next day, she couldn’t. She had developed a cyst on her shoulder and they did some therapy for about six weeks and when that didn’t help, she went in for surgery, which brought her to Comber Physical Therapy.
After her initial warm up on the hand cycle, Dill brought her to the back therapy room and with him, he had some interesting looking tools that had the appearance of non-bladed knives. In actuality, Dill had his Graston tools with him. He, along with Schaller, are
two of Williamsburg’s three Graston certified therapists. According to the Graston website, its “an innovative, evidence-based form of instrument-assisted soft tissue mobilization that enables clinicians to detect and effectively break down scar tissue and fascial restrictions, as we maintain optimal range of motion.”
Dill begins his Graston session by working on the back of her left shoulder, massaging the area in need, working the tender areas. As he’s working on her, her skin begins to turn red, which is a normal reaction when Graston is used. Graston helps to decrease the overall time of treatment, aid in a faster recovery time, reduce the need for anti-inflammatories, resolve chronic conditions thought to be permanent, and provide an efficient way to maintain optimal range of motion. The last of which was one of Dill’s focus during her therapy session.
One thing that was very obvious during her session was Dill’s attention to detail and how he was interacting with McNabb. As he continued his Graston session, he talked to her like they were the best of friends, asking how everyone in her family was doing and how they were enjoying their summer vacation. He also asked the essential questions, such as how she was feeling, what her pain level was like and whether she was having any other problems since her last appointment. But what stuck out was his attentiveness, like how a father nurtures his daughter, he was focused on her feedback and made sure to not only stick to her plan of care, but also be supportive and helpful in answering any questions.
After her Graston treatment, Dill had her get on a table and he began doing a series of exercises and treatments including a scapula release into a P & F pattern along with scapula stability stretches. He also did a contracting and relaxing energy technique. All the while he’s doing this, he’s keeping that lighthearted atmosphere and easy going demeanor, keeping it fun for the patient while explaining everything in detail.
As one of three PTA’s in our New Town clinic, Dill has a lot on his plate and is constantly seeing anywhere from 13-18 patients a day. It’s his job to keep the physical therapists in the clinic up to date on the progress of patients and sticking to their plan of care.
Dill is always seen in the clinic with a smile on his face and always interacting with his patients, as well as other patients in the clinic. So when you come in, be sure to say hi to the guy who on Fridays is always wearing his snappy suspenders with his Comber t-shirt.