Featured Fellow: James Escaloni, PT, OCS, Cert. MDT, Dip. Osteopractic, FAAOMPT


Dr. Escaloni graduated from the University of Kentucky with a Bachelor of Health Science, and continued at the University of Kentucky for his entry-level Master of Science in Physical Therapy degree. He went on to obtain his Doctor of Physical Therapy degree from Regis University. His interests in manual therapy, orthopedics, and movement science encouraged him to further pursue orthopedic residency and fellowship training, as well as various post-graduate certifications and diplomas. He is a former member of the state board of Kentucky for the National Strength and Conditioning Association.  Additionally, he is very active in his role as an instructor KORT’s Orthopedic Residency and for the American Academy of Manipulative Therapy as a senior instructor. Currently, Dr. Escaloni manages an outpatient orthopedic practice in Versailles, and tries to spend as much time as possible with his fantastic wife, three children, and two dogs.

What made you decide to pursue fellowship training?

When I was a young student I really knew very little about being a fellow.  All I knew was that the people who had achieved this distinction were able to do “cool tricks” with their manual skills, and that everybody seemed to go to them when they had pain. After I graduated I’ll admit that my knowledge of fellowship training wasn’t much better.  I only knew that those clinicians were the really good ones that even seasoned clinicians looked up to.  I subsequently created a 5-year plan that ended with my graduation from an accredited fellowship program.  It took 7.5 years, but at least it still happened.

What fellowship program did you attend and why?

I completed the American Academy of Manipulative Therapy’s fellowship in Orthopedic and Manual Physical Therapy.  I chose this fellowship due to several factors.  I had several onsite weekend classes, a residency, and a degree from other organizations that gave me a very good foundation.  However, after taking a weekend thrust manipulation course and subsequent dry needling course led by James Dunning and Ray Butts, I was drawn to their take on things.  I enjoyed the unique manual skills presented as well as the thorough understanding of international literature and statistical breakdown, not to mention the most thorough education in neuroscience I had ever received in a short period of time.  After having lunch with the two, they described the fellowship they were creating and it was going to be more of what I was interested in.  I signed up later that month.

What did your fellowship program entail (as far as specific training, etc…)?

The fellowship covered various areas with an emphasis on skill performance in thrust manipulation and dry needling, but also covered mobilization, statistics, business models, radiology, differential diagnosis with clinical reasoning, advanced neuroscience with regard to pain and mechanisms of manual therapy, performance of research with randomized controlled trials, and many other topics.  There was also a teaching component for all fellows-in-training that I appreciated that forced me to understand my assigned topics more thoroughly due to a spectrum of students that I needed to instruct.

Are you trained in any specific areas of manual therapy (i.e. Maitland, McKenzie, etc…), if so, why did you choose that area?

I have been trained in an eclectic area of manual therapy from various instructors and mentors.  A big reason is because all techniques can work for appropriate patients, and some may work better for some patients over others.  From thrust manipulation, to dry needling, to the McKenzie method, to neural mobilization, I appreciate the tools for the toolbox.  With the realities of practice, one technique described in the literature may not work on the patient in front of you.  The more tools that can be rationally utilized can lead to a better outcome for our patients.

What advice would you give to new grads aspiring to pursue residency/fellowship training?

The best advice is to ensure that you have a good mentor from the beginning.  Try to have this person as a consistent mentor that can go to your clinic as well as the mentee traveling to the mentor’s clinic.  When at the mentor’s clinic, this allows for passive viewing of the way a mentor practices and can initiate excellent ideas and conversations.  When having the mentor travel to the mentee, however, more invested practice can take place that forces the mentee to change habits in live patient scenarios.  This places more “skin in the game” for the mentee and forces greater levels of participation and changes comfortable habits that may not be beneficial in the long run.  Additionally, having a mentor from the beginning allows goals to be set for the training, and allows the mentor to observe traits (good and bad) that may need to be addressed to allow the mentee to improve at a faster rate.

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