Physical therapist joins Rangely hospital staff

RANGELY — Shingo Tanaka has been working as Rangely District Hospital’s physical therapist for just over a month. But people are already noticing his individualized approach to patients.
phrgshingotanakaTanaka’s philosophy begins with listening to people and their bodies.
“My job is to identify the problem and help solve it, not just provide a temporary fix,” Tanaka said. “The patients help me do that.”
During sessions, patients are encouraged to tell Tanaka how the exercises feel. If pain becomes a significant factor, he switches to other techniques, such as massage.
“Pain can be the first signal that an exercise is too much at that moment,” Tanaka said. “If a muscle is weak, we can work with that. But if there’s real pain, we need to address the source before trying to strengthen or rebuild the weakened area.”
Tanaka compares his approach to that of a mechanic who must use different tools for each vehicle he works on.
“The same method isn’t going to work for every person,” he says.
“I am pleasantly surprised at how much good I’ve heard about Shingo in such a short period of time,” said incoming Chief Executive Officer Nick Goshe. “Within a month, three patients have told us that his techniques are really helping them. He’s easygoing and friendly, which the staff appreciates. He has basically hit the ground running.”
Physical therapy patient Bill Mitchem of Rangely is currently rehabilitating his back after undergoing extensive surgery in April, as well as working on his right leg, which needs continual strengthening after a 2005 knee replacement.
“The thing I particularly like is that he’s very gentle,” Mitchem said. “He approaches the problems I have by getting at the root of them instead of pushing through the pain.”
Tanaka worked for a private practice in Ohio before moving to Rangely.
“I’m not interested in an ‘assembly line’ practice, where a therapist rotates three patients through different stations in an hour,” Tanaka said. “I need to spend a good amount of time with each patient so that we understand each other.”