Michael Griffin is a Physical Therapist specializing in helping patients reduce pain, restore mobility, rehabilitate an injury, and increase movement and overall function. Michael is going on 7 years of service at Whittier Rehabilitation Hospital, Westborough’s Outpatient Clinic
How did you start at Whittier’s Westborough Outpatient Clinic?
“A long time ago, I was working at NE Baptist Hospital in their spine rehabilitation program when I talked to a doctor who worked for Whittier. My commute was turning into two hours at Baptist, so I made the switch. Now I feel like I’m working half days; the commute is so short!”
Who are your patients?
“A lot of referrals come from NE Baptist, so patients don’t have to go all the way up there for regular PT. The people I tend to see have a high concentration of chronic back pain. We see joint replacements, total hips, some total shoulders, knees, occasionally ankle replacement, ACL reconstruction, or post-operation after spinal fusions. We also have a steady supply of patients with neurological issues, whether it’s a head injury, stroke, from diseases like Parkinson’s to TBI (traumatic brain injury).”
How do you define chronic back pain?
“The definition varies. Some doctors consider it to be anything longer than a few days. Some say more than six months. In my mind, it’s when you don’t get over it within a few weeks; you can’t just put cold on it and lay low. Many patients don’t even have a specific event to reference as the cause; it’s just gotten worse over months or years. Usually, by the time they see me, people have tried chiropractors, or inconsistent physical therapy, and they’re getting desperate.”
Search for a career like Michael’s at Whittier Rehabilitation Hospital, Westborough’s Outpatient Clinic!
Why does Westborough’s Outpatient Clinic back program stand out?
“Well, first, we have an extensive outpatient facility here, nice, bright, a full range of equipment, and only a few patients going at a time, so it’s super spacious, and you never feel crowded. We also have an independent gym program for prior patients who are worried about going into the gym on their own. It’s a nice half-step because people are a little more comfortable knowing that someone is keeping an eye on them.”
“Plus, our approach is different from a lot of traditional therapists, who prescribe treatment based on the symptoms. Most of those symptoms aren’t bad pain, but it’s your body being an alarm system, telling you something’s wrong, and it’s hard to shut that noise off. The difference in our methods is ‘We don’t care about the pain.’ That means, as we steadily increase the intensity of the exercise, if you’re feeling alarm bells, but it’s under control, don’t stop. It might increase your pain for a while, but then you adapt and increase to the next level.”
“Typically, people stay in our spine program for 4-6 weeks; they come twice a week, 30 minutes at a time. A lot of people leave much sooner than that! The intent is to learn the exercise routine so they feel like they can tolerate it, understand the progression, and do it on their own. We define goals and identify weights per increase, looking closely at gender, body weight, age, medical issues, where we would like to see them get to. We try to get them out as quickly as we can, so they don’t spend their life here: the faster they learn, the better.”
What do you wish people knew about back health?
“There are so many myths about body mechanics, but mostly, people need not be so afraid. You’re setting yourself up for problems if you stick to a neutral spine and don’t learn how to twist.”
To make a referral to Whittier Rehabilitation Hospital, Westborough’s Outpatient Clinic or more information about Whittier Rehabilitation Hospital Westborough’s services, visit their page on our website.