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The Work We Do: Lee Staebler, physical therapist

I’m Lee Staebler. I’m a physical therapist working in Mattituck. I’ve been in this location for a little over 16 years now. I’ve been a therapist for over 30; hard to believe. I have all my degrees from Stony Brook University. I have a doctorate in physical therapy.

Well, I treat patients who have post-traumatic injuries, surgeries, knee replacements, shoulder replacements and a great variety of orthopedic injuries. So a typical day is just looking at my schedule, seeing what kind of patients are coming in, trying to anticipate a plan, short-term goals, long-term goals, to get them fully functional again and out of pain.

You know, when you’re going through school you take stock of your aptitudes and I was always interested in physical performance; I had a curious mind. I enjoyed science. I enjoy the fact that I can do something that I perceive to be, you know, worthwhile, and where you’re helping people get better. You’re seeing that kind of thing, that’s kind of a nice perk to the job. My favorite part of the job is to see people go through the process, improve, start to see and recapture what they lost, start to feel more optimistic.

I enjoy kidding around with the patients, having fun and getting to know people. So that’s always a nice thing. You form relationships with people, so I enjoy that a lot.

At this point I’ve taken so many continuing-education courses. I’ve done this for so many years. I’ve seen so much that I almost sort of reflexively do a lot of what I do in terms of the knowledge I was trained in, like physiology and so forth. The mechanics of what I do, the process and the logic, needs to be adjusted from time to time.

Sometimes getting people to kind of convert from a pessimistic kind of mindset to something that’s more of a positive expectancy. Believing that they can get better through their efforts. The temporary issues that they’re dealing with, sometimes can be hard for certain people, and hard for me sometimes to kind of get people to sort of make that transition.

“The Work We Do” is a Suffolk Times multimedia project profiling workers on the North Fork. It is made possible by Peconic Landing in Greenport. See photos on Instagram @thesuffolktimes.