Friday morning, I made the drive back home from Fort Lewis for the last time. Our last day of data collection was Thursday, so I am now officially free for the remainder of the summer. Given that it’s pretty much taken over my life for the past couple of weeks, it’s hard to believe that it’s over.
I basically moved out of my house and didn’t see my husband or my cats for two weeks. I got up at 4:30 in the morning more often than not. I spent 8-10 hour days on my feet giving the exact same balance test to hundreds of soliders. I finished each day exhausted and usually collapsed into bed for a much-needed nap. And then I got up at 4:30 the next morning and did it all over again.
And I loved every minute of it.
It was fascinating to see how differently everyone moved and accomplished the movement tasks we asked them to do. It was amazing to participate in such a huge study (they’re aiming for 1500 subjects) in an incredibly meaningful way. And it was exciting to be a part of something that could, potentially, change the model of care for physical therapy in the future. If 10 or 15 years from now, physical therapy is seen not only as a way to fix musculoskeletal problems, but as a way to prevent them, then I’ll know I was right in the middle of the beginning of all that.
Not to mention that I got to work right alongside some of the best researchers in sports medicine, the very people that pioneered and designed the movement and balance screens that the study used. The next time I read an article written by one of them, I can put a face and a person to the name. I can email them questions and there’s a good chance that they’ll know who I am. That’s pretty darn cool.
It was a ton of work. It was exhausting. It was kind of a pain in the ass, really. And I would do it all again in a second.
It’ll be several years before any of this gets published, but when it does? You can bet I’ll be reading every bit of it, eager to see what’s come out of everything. I’m really excited about the potential for this study and sincerely hope it lives up to expectations. My only regret is that my part of it is now over.