Luna: Revolutionizing Healthcare through more accessible Physical Therapy with Melissa Erlandson PT 035

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Today’s Guest

Melissa Erlandson, PT

The field of physical therapy (PT) is continually evolving, and few know this better than Melissa Erlinson Network Development Specialist for Luna. A dedicated PT, Melissa has navigated a diverse path in the field, experiencing everything from pediatric to geriatric physical therapy. In this episode, she shares her story and the lessons she has learned along the way.

One of the most significant shifts in her career came when she moved into pelvic health. This decision was partly influenced by her personal struggles with pelvic pain and incontinence. She recognized the need for early intervention and greater access to therapy in this area. As she delved deeper into this field, she also noticed the significant intersection of trauma and mental health with pelvic therapy.

Discussing the broader healthcare system, Melissa criticizes the traditional medical model, which she believes is broken. She discusses the consequences this model has for both patients and providers, particularly how it perpetuates sickness. She emphasizes the importance of functional nutrition in supporting the body’s systems and calls for a rethink of the mixed messaging around nutrition.

Throughout her career, Melissa has faced numerous challenges, including navigating debt, surviving the housing market crash, and being laid off during the pandemic. Despite these obstacles, she demonstrates resilience and adaptability. One of her most significant career shifts came when she joined Luna Physical Therapy, a home-based technology platform that is redefining traditional physical therapy models.

Melissa’s story serves as an inspiration for other physical therapists and highlights the potential for meaningful change in the field. As the world of physical therapy continues to evolve, professionals like Melissa Erlinson are leading the way, challenging conventional models, and advocating for better patient care.

“That’s why I love the wellness model because I think mostly what we are moving towards is root cause and empowering and educating the patient so they have tools to stay well, which makes Physical Therapy accesible “

Do you want to chat more about this topic?

Melissa and I would love to continue this conversation with you over on Instagram.

Topics covered on more accessible Physical Therapy

  • Pediatric to geriatric Physical Therapy transition
  • Pelvic Health education and treatment resources
  • The broken traditional medical model and the new wellness model
  • Her career shifts leading to her current role in network development
  • Challenges and growth in Physical Therapy careers

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Highlight questions from the episode

if somebody was struggling with some of the symptoms and things that you were having, where would you direct them?

Great question. Thankfully, there are so many more resources than there were even three to five years ago. There are virtual options and in-person options. First of all, APTA is a PT locator. And then Herman and Wallace are one of the training education companies. That’s the one I went into for levels one and two for pelvic health, and they also have a PT locator. I wasn’t sure about the virtual options because of being an in-person physical therapist, primarily in women’s health, thinking that you would likely need in-person to a certain extent. However, one of the PTs I have recently talked to is a very seasoned PT and she helped switch my perspective because there’s so much that we can accomplish virtually. I find this absolutely exciting because the huge problem with women’s health is accessibility.

Is the pelvic cash-based practice still going on?

I was looking to supplement my business and so I actually had a PT school friend who was opening a business in town which is a really great cool clinic where he had all the latest and greatest equipment and a lot of space and it’s called Empower. And I was looking to go brick and mortar, whereas before I was doing more virtual, I wanted to get back in person because you know, this was when I had been doing virtual, and then the pandemic was winding down, so people were kind of getting back in person and so I wanted to get back in front of patients again, and so it was just about to sign a contract with him, but it didn’t quite feel right. So I explored a little bit more for physical therapy opportunities and then Luna came up and it was.
As soon as she said, well, I have about four visits in Minneapolis I’m like, oh no, that’s not what I’m looking for. I would need more than that to kind of even things out. And as soon as I said, no, she asked me to tell her more about my nonclinical experience and she ended the call by saying: “Would you like to come work with us?”.

What was next for you on your journey to being where you are now with Luna?

I am excited about Luna for a lot of different reasons and for one personally. It is a challenge to go into something different In MedTech. I’ve never worked for a startup before, so I’m really enjoying the challenge and the fact that it is for physical therapists is really exciting to me, versus some other of the other non-clinical roles I’ve had in the past have been not for physical therapists specifically.

What are some of the struggles or pain points that you went through from PT school till now?

So this one might catch you off guard, when my husband and I came out of PT School, we were hamstrung by debt. And now we see it’s getting worse and worse and worse and it’s not sustainable. it would have been around 2004 that my husband and I started investing in real estate. At that time it was a natural progression because the house we had when we got married we fixed up, sold, and paid off half of our student debt. The next house we lived in fixed it up, sold, and paid off another part of our student debt. Then the housing market happened, the crash, so essentially he and I together lost everything. Luna posted something about the PT debt-to-income ratio and how serious it is. I hope for the PTs that feel that there is no way out. However, we made it out and, again I’m the person who always wants to circle back to hope. You have so many great skills and so many great resources and so many opportunities that if you can find a way to switch the mindset, meaning kind of the idea of what you put out you get back is you have to try to find a way to switch the mindset to believe.

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