Mavis Rode, PT, DPT, CSCS
Mavis Rode is the LMU Dance Department's Physical Therapist, professor of Pilates, Kinesiology, and helps dancers assess risk and injury.
How did you become interested in Physical Therapy?
As a child I had a passion for movement and knew there was a dancer within me. During my teens, I discovered I also had an interest in healing. So even while dancing, I began to explore healing as a career. At some point, I knew that I would study Physical Therapy, but it was more of a calling than a reasoned choice. Physical Therapists are, however, trained as movement specialists,so the profession haspositioned me perfectly to develop a career helping dancers.
What does the road to becoming a PT who works primarily with dancers look like?
Well, the first step is, of course, to graduate from a Physical Therapy program and become licensed to practice. Most dance injuries are to the musculoskeletal system, so if you have an opportunity in school to choose an area of emphasis through clinical experiences or elective studies, choose the area of orthopedics. Other elective areas of study that are useful in treating dancers are Pilates, yoga, and various other somatic practices. It’s not necessary to have been a dancer or have a dance background to work successfully with dancers as a P.T. If you have a dance background, you’ll understand dance vocabulary and what is physically expected of dancers, but If you don’t have a dance background, you’ll need to learn this. Dancer or not, you need to learn the biomechanics of dance technique and the injuries common to dancers. There’s no Physical Therapy specialization in dance medicine, but there are many ways you can get this information from books, courses, and clinical observation. You can join organizations such as IADMS (International Association for Dance Medicine and Science). And there are a lot of people who will be willing to help and support you. You just have to get out into your community and see who’s working with dancers. You can seek out opportunities to observe P.T.’s working with dancers or perhaps look for a job working in a clinic that treats dancers.
What is one thing that you feel helped you most in building the career you have now?
There is no one thing, but I’ll answer this way. My love of dance and curiosity about movement. My love of teaching and commitment to learning. I didn’t start out as a young person with a goal to be a Physical Therapist working with dancers, but I see how the teacher, the dancer, and the healer in me brought me to this point in my career. I know It’s important to examine the truth of who you are and what you have to give and to follow that path. Follow the path your soul is directing you to and you won’t go wrong, although there will be bumps along the way. And be humble.
What does your role look like within LMU dance, and what is your favorite part about the department?
My job is injury risk management. That includes providing dancers with assessment and rehabilitation of injury, education about wellness and injury prevention, fitness and dance conditioning training. I also provide annual screenings for dancers new to the program and teach classes in Kinesiology for Dancers. My favorite part about the LMU Dance Department is that every day I get to work with supportive, kind, generous, and compassionate people.
Link to Mavis' Website here.