Physical Therapy Changes the Course of a Young Man's Life

When Robert Stehm started high school, he wanted to become a forensic scientist. But after physical therapy at Virtua helped him recover from two knee surgeries, Robert felt drawn to a different line of work. The 19-year-old is now pursuing a career as a physical therapist.

“I saw how much physical therapy (PT) helped people get their lives back,” the Cinnaminson resident says. “That led me to go to Stockton University and start studying PT.”

In fact, Robert is so passionate about his chosen field and Virtua, he started volunteering at Virtua Physical Therapy & Rehabilitation in Moorestown, where he completed his physical therapy last year. 

“It’s been amazing, already getting clinical experience,” says Robert, who received PT at Virtua’s Cherry Hill site, as well.

As a volunteer, he helps out in various ways—changing sheets on therapy tables, wiping down equipment, and bringing towels, heating pads and other supplies to the therapists.  

Robert knows, from his own experiences, the value of this work.

“I couldn’t play soccer or hockey in high school because I had too much pain,” recalls Robert, whose knee injuries also forced him to stop camping and hiking.

After his knee surgeries, PT was essential to Robert’s recovery—and his return to the activities he loves.

“I can now hike and climb,” he reports. “I bike a lot now, too.”

This summer, in fact, Robert took a steep, 12-mile hike in the Adirondack Mountains. And he’s started rock-climbing, which he’d been reluctant to attempt prior to therapy.

“I got the opportunity to try it at a local gym, and I was immediately hooked!” he enthuses.

In addition, Robert can now put in 50-plus hours a week at a local catering hall, where he’s worked for three summers.  Previously, his knee pain limited him to just 20 or 30 hours a week.

The college sophomore cites Virtua physical therapist Chris Robinson as an important role model.   Rob Stehm with PT Chris Robinson

“He inspired me to become a physical therapist,” Robert says. “The patients have such a positive relationship with Chris.”

Chris and his colleagues are grateful to Robert, as well.

“Our staff is so appreciative to have someone like him,” the Virtua therapist says. “He did all the exercises and was a very motivated patient. And now, he goes above and beyond as a volunteer. Robert has all the qualities needed to succeed in our field.”

Updated November 1, 2018

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