Physical Therapy Grad Gets Patients Back on Their Feet

Jill Cadby changes lives for a living.

For most physical therapy students, landing a job at one of the country’s leading rehabilitation centers would be the ultimate career goal realized. For Jill Cadby, it’s her everyday reality. Thanks to the physical therapy program at Ithaca College, Cadby changes lives every day at the Kessler Institute for Rehabilitation.

Cadby graduated in 2009 with a bachelor’s degree in physical therapy. She then entered the College’s transitional doctorate in physical therapy (D.P.T.) program, receiving her master’s degree in May 2010 and completing the D.P.T. program the following December.

Through a series of clinical rotations, Cadby was able to narrow down exactly what she felt most passionate about and where she wanted to work.

Her first clinical rotation was among patients with developmental disabilities, which got her interested in the Special Olympics. Cadby and some classmates volunteered to help with the soccer, skiing, snowshoeing, and cross-country skiing events at the New York State Special Olympics, which she describes as a great experience.

“It really sparked my interest,” Cadby says. “I’ve continued working with the Special Olympics even after that affiliation.”

Cadby did three more rotations: one at an outpatient facility in Florida, one at a trauma center in her hometown of Buffalo, New York, and the last at the Kessler Institute for Rehabilitation in New Jersey, where she now works.

“Kessler is a really good learning environment. You rotate on a yearly basis,” Cadby says. “The clinical experience at Kessler really opened doors for me, and I was able to interview with the institute and get a job.”

Cadby works with patients who have either suffered strokes or are amputees, assisting them with walking exercises on a body-weight supported treadmill system.

“I gained some experience with locomotor training during my final clinical assignment,” she says. “My patients walk on the ground afterward to try to get some carryover from the treadmill to the ground. I love that work. I get to do that every day.”

Cadby says her experience at Kessler as an intern shaped her future in a positive way, and she is grateful to the professors who helped her get there.

“My professors respected me as a future colleague,” she says. “It made me feel like I could actually be a good therapist.”

Cadby took her education across the sea, too, when as an undergraduate she travelled with a group of eight students to Malawi, Africa, to work with families and educate them about health care. She hopes to return one day to volunteer and find more ways to assist the people of Malawi.

“Malawi was a true life-changing opportunity,” she says. “It made me appreciate my profession and how I can really help change the lives of others for the better."

"I would like to come up with some sort of sustainable mechanism for food or growth for the country,” she continues. “It’s such a special country, and it makes you realize how much you take for granted here.”

But for now, she’s happy and fulfilled by her position at Kessler and plans to be there for a long time. Her ultimate goal is to become a clinical specialist of neurology. Thanks to her education at Ithaca, she feels ready to grow both personally and professionally.

“I couldn’t be in a better place at this point in my life,” she says.

Originally published in Fuse: Physical Therapy Grad Gets Patients Back on Their Feet.