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Physical Therapy Embeds Into 92nd Maintenance Squadron

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Clare Werner
  • 92nd Air Refueling Wing

The 92nd Medical Group’s Operational Support Team is currently embedded with the 92nd Maintenance Squadron as part of an Air Force initiative to provide more readily available access to physical therapy and mental health assets for units with unique hours, mission requirements or other specific needs.

The OST officially started its six-month embed with the 92nd MXS July 24, 2023, to enhance physical and mental readiness for maintainers who may not be able to frequently travel to and from the 92nd MDG facility due to non-standard duty times and mission requirements. This marked the first such program at Fairchild Air Force Base.

Capt. Natalie Garrett, the OST’s physical therapist, described the embedment process as a ‘one-stop-shop’ for Airmen that enables them to get treatments within their work center rather than having to make a separate trip to the 92nd MDG facility.

“It takes the middleman out, so the member doesn’t have to drive all the way over to the MDG in order to get some tips to prevent injury,” said Garret. “I think OST, as a model, is really great and it’s not just going to make life easier for maintenance people, but for anybody we’re embedded with."

“We want to cut out whatever barriers possible to the member,” she added. “If we can fit it into their workday, it opens that door for them to start seeing the benefits and they understand how we can make a positive impact on their life.”

Fairchild’s OST consists of a physical therapist, a team specialist, a strength and conditioning coach and a licensed clinical social worker who are working to improve injury prevention by molding a specific program for the unit in which they’re embedded.

Garrett said the 92nd MXS was selected for the embed program using an Air Force computer system called “Knowledge Exchange” (KX) that presents data on units that may be at higher chance for work-related musculoskeletal injuries and mental health risks. After categorizing the units, the OST initiated discussions with the commanders of those units to see which of those could support the six-month embed timeline.

“We did a lot of data analysis and spent a lot of time talking with Lt. Col. Abigail Curtis, the 92nd MXS commander, about embedding with this unit,” said Garrett. “The command team has been so supportive about it.”

According to Garrett, initiatives like this enable units to enhance their readiness by providing physical and mental help resources directly at the source, minimizing lost travel time and increasing accessibility.

“I think that this is a great stride forward in providing preventative health care,” Garrett explained. “We really need to try to prevent members from getting injured as much as possible. The fact that we’ve made step in that direction is great, and I hope we’re able to impact as many people as possible across the base.”