Dr. Matt Haberl, PT, ATC, CSCS is a Certified Orthopedic Clinical Specialist and Fellow of the American Academy of Orthopaedic Manual Physical Therapists. He currently practices as a Physical Therapist and is co-owner of Dynamic Physiotherapy, LLC. Here Dr. Haberl sees a variety of patients from patients having persistent migraines, low back or neck pain, to various neurological disorders and high performing athletes. His focus includes restoring and optimizing functional movement with the utilization of various physical therapy treatments including therapeutic dry needling, joint mobilization and manipulation, neuromuscular re-education complimented with patient specific corrective exercises and therapeutic activities. In addition to patient care he is co-owner and Residency Director of Specialized Physical Therapy Education’s Orthopaedic Residency program. As an advocate for residency and fellowship education he serves as a mentor and lead faculty of Specialized Physical Therapy’s Orthopaedic Residency, and Clinical Mentor for Evidence in Motion’s Orthopaedic Manual Physical Therapy Fellowship Program. He now serves as the current President of the Orthopaedic Residency and Fellowship Special Interest Group of the Orthopaedic Section of the APTA to continue the advancement of residency and fellowship education.
What inspired you to pursue fellowship training?
Walking out of PT school I felt as though I had a good knowledge base of the basic sciences, clinical evidence and best practice in physical therapy and rehabilitation. Despite this base knowledge I continued to think that I could do more for my patients and our profession. Looking at some of the specialist’s around me it quickly became apparent that their specialty was not just in what they knew but how they were able to choose and deliver this information back to the patient. I also observed how they were not only great clinicians, but educators who were engaged in our profession. So, upon graduation I began to investigate different residency programs which further drove me onto Fellowship training.
What fellowship program did you attend and why?
Upon graduation of PT school, I first applied to some very traditional style residencies that would require me to move and relocate for a short year of employment. While these programs were equipped with great faculty I began to realize how important where I lived and worked was to me. I also already had a great mentor locally, so I began to search for opportunities that would allow me to stay put yet still work towards my professional goals to maintain that life balance. Here is where I came across Evidence In Motion’s (EIM) Orthopaedic Residency and Fellowship programs. EIM met all my personal and professional needs of staying put with excellent faculty and mentors who had a very eclectic background in both clinical research and patient care.
What did your fellowship program entail (as far as specific training, etc.)?
With a very eclectic faculty, EIM’s residency first help provide that base knowledge as an orthopaedic clinical specialist. The fellowship then truly helped me move deeper into understanding of when and how to apply various manual techniques, engage in clinical research, participate in our professional organizations and refine my teaching skills. The fellowship’s focus was more on defending your thought process and removing your personal bias based on the patient’s specific needs, expectations and response. In doing so, this pushed me to be mindful of the different theoretical paradigms and choosing the one that is best suited for the patient in front of me.
Are you trained in any specific areas of manual therapy (e.g., Maitland, McKenzie, etc.)? If so, why did you choose that area?
The beauty of Fellowship training is that your perspective is often opened to see a much greater picture with the focus being more directed to the patient rather than one specific theoretical paradigm. When asked about a specific area of manual therapy the answer is yes and no. Yes, in the aspect that the foundation of my clinical reasoning comes from some of the common descriptors used by Maitland. However, it is not just the techniques described by Maitland but the process in choosing, applying and re-evaluating the effectiveness of any technique. This type of clinical thought process has allowed me to learn, adapt and utilize techniques/terminology described by several different paradigms out there keeping me engaged as a life long learner.
What advice would you give to new grads aspiring to pursue residency/fellowship training?
JUST DO IT! As the old Nike slogan goes. Our national organizations including AAOMPT have done an excellent job in creating opportunities to move a new grad from good to great in no time. Historically the process to move from a generalist to specialist was a slow gradual climb with countless hours, success and failures to finally achieve the status of “Expert Clinician”. Residency/Fellowship training will accelerate your learning curve through great mentorship and guidance. When choosing a program make sure to take a step back and choose which program meets your learning style, life style and who you are most likely to create life long relationships with!