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The fast paced military lifestyle sometimes takes a toll on Airmen, causing injuries that need more attention than just a normal check-up.

To prevent this from becoming detrimental to the mission, Airmen from the 5th Medical Operations Squadron Physical Therapy Clinic offer rehabilitation services to those in need.

The clinic’s role is to keep active duty military members fit to fight.

“We want to get them back to fitness and deployment standards,” said Staff Sgt. Misty Smiley, 5th MDOS NCO in charge of physical therapy. “We want to get our Airmen back to their jobs.”

Most of these clinics across the U.S. Air Force are staffed by a few Airmen. The Minot Air Force Base clinic only has a captain and staff sergeant but they still see roughly 3,800 Airmen annually.

Physical therapy in the Air Force is primarily manual therapy techniques such as joint mobilization and manipulation, dry needling, therapeutic exercises and orthotics.

“We offer all sorts of pain and torture,” joked Capt. Kathryn Kovanen, 5th Medical Operations Squadron physical medicine element chief. “We mostly do joint mobilization and manipulation, which helps relieve musculoskeletal pain.”

According to Kovanen, any injury can take anywhere from a few days to a couple of months of therapy to improve. Through the techniques, Airmen only need to be seen a few times, and then continue exercising at home.

“We depend on people to do the work we assign at home,” said Kovanen. “If they don’t do the home exercise program, they’re not going to get much better.”

The most common injuries seen are lower back injuries, said Smiley. There are plenty of instances of Airmen slipping on ice in the winter, leading to referral to the clinic.

Although it is recommended for an Airman to be referred by their primary care manager, any Airman who believes they need to be seen can schedule an appointment.

For more information, call the appointment line at 701-723-5633.

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