Staff Spotlight: Jessica Kessler

What is your role at ARC Physical Therapy+?

Lead Physical Therapist at Springdale, Arkansas clinic.

Where are you from?   

I was born in Riverton, Wyoming. I grew up in Atlanta, Georgia. 

Where did you go to school? 

I earned my undergraduate degree in exercise physiology at the University of Arkansas in Fayetteville in 1995.  I earned my Master of Physical Therapy degree at the Army-Baylor Physical Therapy program at Ft. Sam Houston, Texas in 1999.    

Who or what inspired you to get into the physical therapy space?  

I love fitness and exercise and enjoy helping people. I have always been interested in the health professions.  I considered a degree in medicine, but physical therapy was more aligned with my interests and passions.   

What do you like most about your work in the physical therapy space?  

I really enjoy empowering my patients and helping them meet their goals.  It’s really gratifying to take my patients through the rehab process and see them take the knowledge they have gained to address their deficits and reach a higher level of function or performance. 

What is one thing you wish everyone knew about the body or physical therapy? 

Fitness can be gained at any age. My oldest patient is 98 and living independently! Don’t stop moving and don’t give up!

What do you like to do in your free time?

I enjoy working out and being outdoors biking, hiking, some running or playing tennis. I enjoy spending time with friends and family. I also love reading, learning and cooking for my family. I love an adventure and I like to travel when the opportunity arises.   

Sweet or salty? 

Salty… But I eat dark chocolate every day! 

Coffee or tea?  

Coffee! 

Beach or mountains? 

The beach for sure but the mountains are great too! 

Go out or stay in? 

Depends on my mood.  I love to go out for a nice dinner especially when the weather is nice, but lounging at home at the end a busy day is nice too.

What patients/diagnoses are you most excited about treating?   

I enjoy seeing a variety!  It keeps things interesting and keeps me sharp.

Is there a patient you worked with that made a significant impact on you as a therapist/leader?  

It‘s hard to pinpoint one patient that was pivotal in my career, but I have a few who stand out more recently.  I treated an older gentleman last year who was having severe constant pain for almost a year in his upper extremity and was at the point of having neck surgery, which he was very reluctant and confused about. The patient said his pain started when he caught a large fish in his arms while out fishing one afternoon. After examining him, I realized his pain was due to dysfunction of the upper thoracic segments and not his neck. I treated him in one session with manual therapy to restore the position and mobility of the segments and his pain immediately went away. He literally cried in his chair because he had suffered constant nerve pain for almost a year thinking he had a pinched nerve in his neck, and this was the first time he had been pain free. I really empathized and wanted to cry with him.

I am grateful for what I have learned in 22 years of treating patients, and hope I can continue to make a difference in the life of others. I try to make each day and each visit count. 

What inspires you?  

I love to see my patients light up when they realize they have the ability to affect the outcome of their therapy and reach their goals. I really love inspiring others to succeed!

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