Winston-Salem State physical therapy students work with man paralyzed in accident

WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. -- In our parents’ day, they called it “bedside manner.”

Today, they call it an essential part of the curriculum.

Winston-Salem State’s doctoral students in physical therapy are learning new ways to relate to patients like Blake Johnson, who was paralyzed when he fell trying to climb over a fence in the Bahamas in 2015. The school is emphasizing going well beyond the techniques of therapy to truly understand what it’s like to be in their patient’s position.

“I think it's going to help them grow, big time, as a therapist,” says Blake’s wife, Angie.

A knowing smile comes across Blake’s face as he hears his wife say that.

“You can tell when somebody's really with you, you become like a team, you know?” says Blake.

The students enthusiastically agree that getting to know their patients may be the best part of the curriculum.

“I found it really amazing to see how someone could bounce back from such traumatic, life-changing event,” says Sam Lucier, one of the students assigned to work with Blake.

“Life is 10 percent of what happens to you, 90 percent of how you react and I think Blake's story is an extraordinary example of that,” says Corey Shelton, furthering Sam’s point.

The point the school is trying to get through isn’t lost on these students.

“A lot of times, programs help you learn the hands-on skills but they don't to a good job of teaching you the soft skills, compassion and empathy,” says Apu Seyenkulo.

See what experience all three therapists experienced that helped them connect with Blake in this edition of the Buckley Report.