Craig Moore is a physical therapist at Florida Hospital Rehab center. Nearly eight years ago, our paths crossed when he was assigned to me as my rehab therapist. During one particular session, I remember conjuring up a proposal that a trip to Popeye’s for some fried chicken was probably the best therapy because (1) I was hungry and how could he expect me to function with such hunger pangs? And (2), we could test my ‘Real Life Skills,’ after all, I’d be crossing the road, exchanging currency and assessing the wheelchair-friendliness of a restaurant. Immediately Craig laughed, then he paused for a long time. He asked me if I was serious and then paused one more time before finally caving-in to my idea. He was used to methodically teaching from text books, while I was convinced those text books were not written for me. You can imagine our daily trials and tribulations but I think that’s what kept therapy interesting.
Over the years, Craig and I have done clinics for other up-and-coming PTs and have been able to remain in touch. Most recently, he was chosen to lead Florida Hospital in a research study among post-stroke patients at the same rehab center we had worked together before, also currently the same gym I work out at. So it’s like old times again. We were due for another eating session, this time I’d treat him to something better than fried chicken—a delicious cheeseburger.
Jana: So how long have you been a PT?
Craig: I graduated in ’94, so what’s that? 13 years.
Where did you go to school?
I got my undergraduate at a small school in Tennessee called Southern Adventist University. Then I went to a university for three years in Michigan.
What made you want to be a therapist?
I pretty much knew I was going to be a physical therapist. Wait, that’s not true. Once I chose physical therapy …
Wait, what do you mean you chose PT?
When I was in high school my initial thought was to be a minister. You know, a youth pastor. And then as a freshman, the night before I registered, I freaked out. I had been vacillating between that and medicine; but I knew that I did not want to be a doctor.
There are different PT positions, what made you turn to the neurological side of things?
Interesting enough, I had always thought I wanted to work in Sports Medicine. There were forty-two people in my class, fourteen of us were guys. We were all going to open up our own clinics or travel with some sports team.
It seems everyone has that dream when they start out to be a PT.
[Laughs] Yeah, I’d say that over time as therapists become exposed to a lot more, they gravitate towards different areas. Eighty percent of my clinical rotations were in outpatient orthopedics and I hated it. It was challenging but… [pauses] it was, in my opinion, somewhat repetitious. I had a very strong neurological program at my school. I had one neurological affiliation and loved it. It’s not an area that I thought I’d like because it takes a longer period of time for someone to recover. But once I started working in this setting; I found it rewarding.
Well with those sorts of injuries you’re also dealing with an emotional aspect. Chances are these people won’t fully recover, do you find that difficult to deal with?
Not really. [Pause] Um…
Well, obviously I was an amazing patient. But I’m talking about everyone else.
[Laughs] You turned my life around Jana.
Well that was to be expected.
I think I have a high emotional… what do they call it? EQ? You know IQ verses EQ; when you can identify and empathize with feelings of others. It’s hard for me to be very cold. If you’re helping some one get back their independence, there’s going to be emotion involved. The challenge is not to be too involved. But I like connecting with people on an emotional basis… and on a spiritual basis.
Now, tell me a little bit about the program you are heading up called L.E.A.P.S.
L.E.A.P.S. is an acronym for Locomotor Experience Applied Post Stroke. It’s a five year, multi-site, randomized clinical trial that was the brain-child of Dr. Pamela Duncan, the principle investigator. The clinical trial is a research study that is focusing on walking recovery for individuals who have had a stroke. What we are doing is looking at people who have had strokes, and we are utilizing two two different types of physical therapy techniques and treatments in hopes to see that, after a years time, either are more effective in helping someone retain their walking recovery. The strategies are acessing whether there is a difference in the proportion of subjects who successfully recover walking ability using a locomotor training program verses a group with a therapist supervised, home-based, exercise program.
How did Florida Hospital get involved?
Quite by accident, it just so happened, that one of the individuals involved in the study was at a conference with one of Florida Hospital’s rehabilitation team managers. The individual was talking about the study and our team manager suggested that they look at Florida Hospital as we have a high stroke population, with numbers they were looking for. So like I said, it was by accident.
About strokes and awareness, what facts do you have for me off the top of your head?
Awe man, I can’t tell you off the top of my head.
And they were comfortable with letting you run this study?
[Laughs] I know, scary isn’t it? I’m in charge of my immediate team at Florida Hospital.
But strokes are common?
Yes, it’s very common. We just wrote a short piece for physicians. I want to say, someone has a stroke every minute.
Generally, having a stroke means half of your body becomes paralyzed, right?
Well it depends. It depends on the part of your brain that is affected. Some strokes affect one side of the body verses the other, some affect different divisions, some affect vision and speech, some affect the ability for people to comprehend or express themselves. So it really depends on the area of the brain and the severity of the stroke. That’s one thing that attracted me to the neurological division as well, you can have two patients that have had strokes and for the most part, they have some of the same deficits, but they are very different individuals. So, it’s never quite the same.
Do you think having a research study here in Orlando will create more stroke awareness?
I think Florida Hospital has done a lot in and of itself to create more stroke awareness. We have a Neurological Institute, which is also one of our centers of excellence, meaning that we meet certain criteria to address the needs of the stroke population in our community. For instance, when someone has a stroke, they are evaluated within a certain time frame in the ER to see if they are a candidate for this drug which basically breaks up clots and will, for some patients, reverse the effects of a stroke. The drug is called TPA, or tissue plasminogen activator, it’s FDA approved and may reduce permanent disability. Our Neurological Institute also has a Clinical Research Division that offers patients a variety of industry sponsored as well as investigator initiated clinical reseaqrch opportunities that utilize the latest pharmaceuticals and medical devices. So Florida Hospital has always been promoting stroke awareness, but what the LEAPS study does is add another area of research, specific to physical therapy and rehabilitation medicine. There needs to be more studies and research done in terms of what we do as physical therapist or any allied health profession to prove that what we do is effective.
It’s pretty amazing that Orlando could be a part of something like that.
Besides being a good place for research, what other thoughts do you have about our city?
I like Orlando. I’ll have to admit, when I moved here in ’83 from New York it was painful. I was a teenager who rode the subway, went everywhere and did everything on my own. In Florida, where you had to have a car, the public transportation system was… well you missed the bus you had to wait an hour. [Laughs] But after a year or two, Orlando grew on me. And over time, it’s become like a comfortable shirt. I’ve often thought about moving away but I like the aspect of a big city, small town. It’s not too crowded or too impersonal; it’s a very personable city in my opinion.
Do you see public transportation as being a problem with our city?
At the rate that we are growing, I don’t see how we can keep growing without having better infrastructure and public transportation alternatives. Having said that, I think the hardest thing will be to sell the residents of Orlando on the idea that it’s worth riding public transportation. In New York, it’s a given. You may have a car, but mainly you’re taking the subway or the bus. Here, if you are waiting for the bus people look at you like, ‘Why? Get a car and drive there.’ It’s been awhile since I’ve ridden the bus here in Orlando, but it seems the efficiency may not always be there. The idea of bringing light rail to Orlando… I think it’s a good idea, but from what I’m hearing, in my opinion, it is geared more towards tourism. You know, making sure the tourist get from Point A to Point B. At some point, they’re going to have to sell the residents that it is a viable option for them too, to commute from Lake Mary or Longwood to Florida Hospital or downtown.
But even then, it seems everything is so spread out. So then you’d get to your stop and then what?
Well looking at a bigger city, it can be done. You can take the subway to a certain point and then walk or take a bus to get the next point. So it’s possible, I just think we have created a culture that says you need to have a car to get to where you need to go, I mean you have to. I think it’s going to be hard for people to give up their keys. It’s going to come down to; do you want to sit on I-4 for an hour and half to go five miles? Or would you rather take light rail and walk two blocks to your downtown office? It’s going to be a culture shift.
And as for all those people moving here, what do you think they’re doing?
Interview Date: 6/7/07
Note: Craig was quick to e-mail me more facts on strokes…
For more information on stroke awareness go to: