ILWACO — When a patient arrives at Peninsula Physical Therapy located at Ocean Beach Hospital and Medical Clinics (OBHMC), they are greeted with “Aloha” — when means love, peace and compassion. They could just as easily be greeted with is “Ka hakaka ana” — meaning challenge. If you’ve ever experienced physical therapy after an injury, you know this to be true.
Brandon Higa PT, DPT, OCS was hired as the lead physical therapist at the hospital in late 2013. He has since been promoted to the position of director of physical therapy. Higa earned his bachelor of science degree in exercise science and sports medicine with an emphasis in human performance from California Lutheran University in 2007. In 2011, he earned his doctorate in physical therapy from Chapman University, also in California. Higa more recently earned the distinction of being a board certified orthopedic clinical specialist (OCS).
After earning his doctoral degree, the opportunity for program development is what initially attracted Higa to work at OBHMC. In the beginning, he shared a room with cardiac rehab, inhabiting a space next to the door, utilizing one table. Eventually, the therapy department became so robust that expansion was necessary. The clinic is now located on the second floor of the hospital in a larger, independent space capable of housing two to three full-time therapists.
Lisa McCash, resident patient care advocate, was hired full time along with the expansion.
“Lisa has been great in her role as patient care advocate. She is extremely personable and always places a patient’s needs as her first priority,” Higa said.
Overall, the therapy staff currently treats 20 to 35 outpatients and two or three inpatients per day. Patients come from as far away as Clatsop County and the clinic receives referrals from Portland, Vancouver, Longview and Astoria.
Born and raised in Hawaii, Higa said seeks to bring a part of his cultural upbringing to OBHMC. Sprinkled throughout the therapy room are symbols of the Hawaiian islands. Hawaiian music, which is often played in the clinic, is a patient favorite.
“At Peninsula PT, we are looking to promote an active, yet comfortable environment for healing. Hawaiian music can be both soothing and invigorating at the same time. I think that’s why our patients enjoy it so much,” Higa said.
Higa seeks to apply an evidenced-based, active approach to treatment. Each treatment plan is individualized to the patient’s specific needs.
“We are trying to encourage our patients to be engaged in their own rehabilitation. This involves constant patient education, re-assessment, and a progression from manual treatment to active movement. Ultimately, most patients want to be more functional during their daily life. Based on the evidence, in order to achieve that goal, an active approach to treatment is best,” he said.
Higa said he chose his field because he finds helping people highly rewarding. Patients health improves because “The patient-therapist relationship is the key to success. Patient education is essential,” he said.
Community outreach is an important aspect of Higa’s job.
“Since my time here at OBH,” he said. “I have been well supported by the hospital administration. I have been given the freedom to develop and implement educational classes to deliver to the community. Together we feel that promoting a culture of health in our community is paramount.” He currently teaches fall prevention and balance education classes to seniors throughout Pacific County. He has also served as an injury consultant for Ilwaco and Naselle high schools. When a student athlete is injured, Higa provides a free consultation determining the best course of action. He has also educated athletes on injury-prevention strategies to optimize body movement.
Higa’s message is simple: “Mahalo Nui Loa (thank you very much). Mahalo for all of your support. We at Peninsula Physical Therapy want to let everyone know that we are here for them. Whatever the need, our goal is to meet or exceed that need.”
For more information or to make an appointment, contact Peninsula Therapy at 360-642-6328, located on the second floor of Ocean Beach Hospital.