A local physical therapist strives to provide cutting edge therapeutic techniques and promote healthy living to the people of Eugene.
By Samantha Thom
It began as any other day, any other run. Little did she know that she would make it 10 miles before feeling exhausted but satisfied with her new personal best. With her hair tied up in a messy knot, comfortable in her sweats and curled up in sheets on a cushioned worktable, Kana Sekiguchi is all smiles.
Although she appears right at home in her cozy, upstairs workroom, she didn’t always want to become a physical therapist. After having been a gymnast for fifteen years, Sekiguchi, 27, began coaching children’s gymnastics when she began college at Ohio State University. After a few years, her knees became overworked from getting down to the level of the kids and she found herself in physical therapy. Although she had been studying all four years to become a doctor, and graduated with a degree in biology in 2007, she found after shadowing doctors that it was not the right fit for her.
“I realized that they don’t spend a whole lot of time with their clients, and I really wanted to get to know them well and see them over and over again,” she says. “I noticed that my PTs loved their jobs, knew everybody by name and everything about them. So I decided to make a change.”
Taking the inspiration she felt from her PTs, Sekiguchi took one year after earning her undergraduate degree to complete prerequisites for the doctorate program of physical therapy at Ohio University.
As for ending up in Eugene, she fell in love with the Pacific Northwest when she came to complete one of her clinical rotations for PT school through Therapeutic Associates in 2011. Sekiguchi says that when she went back to Ohio after her rotation to graduate, she told her boyfriend, now fiancé, Ray about Oregon and how well their athletic lifestyles would mesh with Oregon’s outdoors.
“There really is nothing to do outside in Ohio,” Sekiguchi said, laughing.
It prompted the two to make the move to Eugene, where Ray found an orthopedic physical therapy residency program for himself, and Sekiguchi found Bodywise.
Bodywise Physical Therapy resides in a green remodeled Victorian on 8th and High Street in downtown Eugene. Sekiguchi has been a practicing physical therapist at Bodywisesince 2011, focusing on pilates-based therapeutic rehabilitation for her clients.
She believes it’s also extremely important that if you are going to preach a healthy, active lifestyle to clients you should also be doing the same for yourself. Sekiguchi and her fiancé enjoy hiking, walking their St. Bernard Boxer named Rufus around the river trails, and they’ve also really gotten into running after having moved to Tracktown USA.
“It’s nice to be active and stay in shape to promote that to clients,” she says. “A lot of people who come in here aren’t big fans of exercising, or they’ve never exercised before in their lives. Then it’s my job to promote an overall healthy lifestyle, not just to get them better with their injuries.”
Ryann Haworth, an office manager at Bodywise and former patient of Sekiguchi’s, says that Sekiguchi’s dedication and passion for what she does is clear in her everyday work.
“She’s a quick learner and she takes criticism well,” she says. “But I’ve even seen her as a patient and been under her hands for treatment and she’s been able to show me exercises that other people haven’t shown me. I find that to be very inspiring, to always have something new and never be locked into one thing.”
If she wasn’t a PT, Sekiguchi says she could see herself being something along the lines of “a director of volunteers”. She’s enjoyed volunteering with various groups and organizations in the past, and is now looking to start giving her time to a free clinic in Eugene called Volunteers in Medicine.
Volunteers in Medicine is a free clinic for people in Lane County who are employed but not eligible for medical insurance. The staff includes physicians, an obstetrician, a gynecologist, nurses, psychiatrists, psychologists, and two PTs.
“I decided to give my time, once a week before work to see a couple of patients and see what I can help out with,” she says. “I think the wait list to see the PTs is about a month long, so I’d love to give my time to decrease that list quite a bit. I’m really excited about it.”
As far as her future goes, Sekiguchi says she doesn’t plan on settling down in Eugene, but that it’s been a good home to her for the last year and she looks forward to getting to know the area better.
“It’s been an adjustment, and still is now,” she says. “I definitely miss the Midwest.”
Sekiguchi is looking to earn more certifications that will improve her therapeutic techniques and be more beneficial for her clients, such as in either women’s health physical therapy or an orthopedic specialist certification. Her dedication to bettering her own lifestyle is also clear, as she dismounts the worktable to stretch out her running legs, no sign of wear and tear from her 10 mile triumph just an hour earlier.
“I push myself pretty hard, especially with new things,” she says. “I really do care about the people that I treat and I genuinely want to see them better and get to know them along the way.”