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My Experience with Gina Pongetti and Achieve Physical Therapy

I have known Gina for about 10 years now. As an endurance athlete, I’ve been to her for just about every injury from hamstring strains to shin splints to ITB pain to plantar fasciitis. Gina (or one of her great PTs) has healed every injury I’ve ever had and always got me “up and running” again.

My most memorable injury was my plantar fasciitis. I had signed up for the Madison Ironman – my first. With a race date of September, my training really should have started in January. However, I had such bad plantar, that it hurt to walk, let alone run. I recall saying to myself “I’m not even going to think about doing this race until I can start running without pain.” I had tried everything on my own to get rid of it – from rolling to the awful Strassburg sock! Nothing was helping. I started working with Gina in February. She introduced me to the “oh so fun” graston technique. I still distinctly remember having reflex reaction to the pain in which I kicked the PT who was doing it on a particular day. Gina assured me that the therapy would work and I would be able to start my training. I remember her recommending that I start back running in March while we were still doing the graston therapy. I was hesitant, but she was confident it was the right thing to do.

Little by little the pain went away and eventually disappeared entirely. I ended up having a great training season and a fantastic ironman! Gina was there in Madison of course, cheering me and all her other patients on.

I’ve been to many physical therapists over the years. Gina is the best there is! Hand down. Her attention to the needs – both physical and emotional, of her patients is remarkable. She doesn’t want to know just about your injury, she want to know about you the person and she wants to know what you want to Achieve!

As the owner of Fluid Running, I gratefully receive many of Gina’s patients who are recovering with Gina and staff, but can’t quite yet train on land. This is an area where Gina really shines. She will push you to go ahead with your training even when you’re not sure you’re ready. At the same time, when you think you’re ready to go again, she’s quick to say “not so fast.” She’ll often recommend Fluid Running for her patients until they are ready to resume their land-based training. I’ve watched her take seriously injured athletes and help them not only recover, but go on to have personal bests, whether it’s at the high school cross country state meet or the Boston Marathon. They all sing her praises!

I look forward to our continued relationship where together we help those that are injured get back in the game.

My Experience as a Figure Skater with Achieve

I am a competitive figure skater at the Senior level. I was just shy of making Nationals last year, and I hope to go to the Olympics someday. My right hip had been hurting during the 2014 season. In January of 2015, I found out that I had labral tears in both of my hips, and that I would need surgery if I wanted to skate pain free.

After the surgery, Dr. Ho recommended that I see Gina, as he had worked with her in developing the protocol for labral surgery rehab. I remember crutching into the Achieve building on my first day of therapy. I met Gina for the first time, but I had no idea how she and Achieve would become such a large part of my life.

At my first appointment, Gina could tell that my glutes were tight, so she dry-needled them to release them. This not only made my glutes feel better, but actually relieved pain in my hip. Since my first visit, there have been so many instances like this: Gina is always able to figure out what is causing your pain, even if it is something indirect, such as my spine being off. She does not just keep doing the same thing over and over, hoping it might work one day, as some PTs would; she knows a variety of different methods to relieve pain quickly.

Along with Gina, I am also working with two other PTs, Taylor and Abbey. Taylor had the same surgery as me, so when I describe my pain, she knows exactly what I am feeling, and what the cause is. Abbey is really perceptive, so if I am a little bit tighter on one side or the other, she can sense this, and release whichever side is tightening up. I am so grateful to have so many PTs able to work together to problem-solve; this is part of what makes Achieve Burr Ridge heal patients ASAPP (As Soon As Physically Possible).

Aside from manual therapy, patients get so much out of the exercises at Achieve. The assistants are so knowledgeable that they are always able to ensure the patients are performing the exercise correctly, ensure that they are strengthening the right muscles. They are always watching to make sure I am getting the benefit from the exercises. Achieve also has the optimal equipment for rehab. For example, they own an Alter-G treadmill, which assists the patient with walking by supporting part of his/her weight with an inflated bubble. This allowed me to walk when I was still on crutches, so that I could start activating the muscles I would need to walk, without putting too much weight on my hip. I have seen other patients, runners, itching to get back out running again. They can have the experience of running on the Alter-G, without damaging their joints.

Gina has developed special skating-specific exercises for me. I have definitely noticed these helping me on the ice. When I have a problem on the ice with an element, Gina always takes the time to listen, and to pick exercises for me that day that will help that particular element. Before I had my surgery, the doctors thought I would be out for the season. I still decided to go to Regionals this season, and even though it wasn’t perfect, I qualified for Sectionals. I am hoping to qualify for Nationals. I could have never made Sectionals without the strength and endurance acquired from PT at Achieve.

Achieve is not just a rehab place to get you back to normal life; it is a place for athletes, for people who want to achieve above and beyond. However, even if you are not an athlete, Achieve treats you like one. I have been to many other physical therapy places, where adults are given a certain number of basic exercises, then sent home, even if they still have pain. At Achieve, I see adults doing exercises normally for athletes. I saw someone who could have been my grandfather doing planks; this inspired me to remain active throughout my life.

My mother is also a patient at Achieve. She had shoulder surgery in December 2012. The PT she had ran out, but her shoulder was still in pain. It turns out that she had a different problem with her neck, that no one had diagnosed. The Achieve staff has been committed to relieving her neck pain, and figuring out what is wrong with it. I get teary eyed when I see my mom doing push-ups; not long ago, she could barely able to lift her arm. When I talk to her about it, she is so grateful that she is able to stay active and get her upper body stronger.

The Achieve staff members are not only my PTs; they are my friends. They always listen when I have a problem, and if I request something specific, such as dry needling, heat, or a specific exercise, they are happy to assist me. They acknowledge how I am feeling that day, not only what the protocol says.

Gina and the other PTs have been so supportive of me as a patient, but also as a figure skater and a human being. When there’s time, we often discuss my next skating competition, what we’re learning in school, or what I’m baking. I often hear the PTs discuss work with adults, dance recitals and gymnastics meets with children. This makes us comfortable, makes us feel welcome. It makes me want to come to physical therapy, motivates me to work hard. Achieve is a very special place indeed.

Gymnast Success Story

Hey Achieve family! My name is Bridgette Caquatto and I have been seeing Gina as a physical therapist for 11 years now. Many of you may think I’m old since I have been seeing her this long, but thanks to the wonderful sport of gymnastics I have been pretty beat up since I was 10 years old. I am currently a gymnast at the University of Florida and will be graduating in May of 2016.

Growing up in the sport of gymnastics I suffered from chronic osgood slaughter in both knees and severs in my heals. These acute injuries were very painful but I clearly remember how encouraging and patient Gina was while helping me rehab as a crazy kid! Little did we know this was only the start of my rehab journey with Gina. Through a long hamstring injury and multiple fractures in my back, my rehab process continued to challenge me and get me back to the sport I loved.

I was on the USA National Team for 5 years and became a regular patient for Gina. My first surgery came in 2011 when I shattered and dislocated my right knee at the Pan American games, at this point I spent hours with Gina everyday! Devastated and bummed to take 6 months off of my sport, Gina kept me moving by writing me up conditioning programs and swimming workouts. I was so thankful for her hard work and support through this injury. Then in 2012 I tore my labrum and rotator cuff in my shoulder just a few months before I was supposed to compete in Olympic Trials. I was torn that the recovery took 9 months after surgery, taking me out of the trials and most of my freshman year at the University of Florida. The Achieve family was committed to help me recovery, as they always are!

As a college student I planned my summers specifically to come home to rehab with Gina and the wonderful Achieve staff, while most kids plan their summers around classes and vacations. After winning 3 NCAA Championships back-to-back-to-back at the University of Florida I was ready to head into my senior year and go after a fourth title with my team. Unfortunately, I suffered a dislocated left knee injury in our off-season, which lead to surgery and spending another summer rehabbing at Achieve. I attended physical therapy everyday and enjoyed the process even though I was in a lot of pain. Gina and the staff were always very positive and goal oriented, setting me up for success in my last year of gymnastics. I cannot thank them enough for the impact they have had on my life!