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OHOW Recognizes New Board-Certified Orthopaedic Clinical Specialists

Becoming a Board-Certified Orthopaedic Clinical Specialist within the physical therapy profession is a highly esteemed accolade designating physical therapists as experts in their field. Earning the Board-Certified Orthopaedic Clinical Specialist title requires professional development and additional study.

The Orthopaedic Hospital of Wisconsin is honored to announce three of our physical therapists, Eddie Ericksen, Matt Pitton, and Laura Sullivan, have all recently become Board-Certified Orthopaedic Clinical Specialists (OCS). This distinction offers them new insights and ways to serve patients, extending additional high-quality care that the Orthopaedic Hospital of Wisconsin is known for.

Today, Ericksen and Pitton discuss their practice, process, and the experience of becoming OCS certified.

Eddie Ericksen, PT, DPT, OCS, ACT: Meeting a 10 Year Goal

Growing up with a mother working as an ER nurse, Eddie Ericksen looked up to members of the medical field at an early age. As a high school athlete, Ericksen had his first glimpse into the world of physical therapy after sustaining a knee injury as a student-athlete. While getting treatment for his injury, he learned about the potential career path of athletic training and rehabilitation. 

Eddie Ericksen headshot

Ericksen enrolled in the University of Northern Iowa, where he pursued his undergraduate degree in athletic training. Throughout his early education, he worked as an Athletic Trainer for several sports teams. In his senior year, he worked full-time with the school’s football team. 

“I traveled across the country with the team,” he said. “I gained a lot of hands-on experience that way.”

After obtaining his bachelor’s degree, Ericksen earned his master’s degree in Physical Therapy at Des Moines University. He then accepted positions in Michigan and Ohio before landing in Wisconsin and working at OHOW. 

Throughout his career, Ericksen knew he wanted to become a Board-Certified Orthopaedic Clinical Specialist in physical therapy. 

“I always had the goal that around ten years into my career, I wanted to specialize,” Ericksen said. “I wanted enough time to take in information and discover what area I wanted to specialize in.”

He has stuck to that goal. Ten years into his physical therapy practice, Ericksen became a Board-Certified Orthopaedic Clinical Specialist. Today, Ericksen lives in Mequon, where he treats patients at our newest off-site physical therapy clinic

Matt Pitton, PT, DPT, OCS, ACT, COMT: Seeing the COVID-19 Pandemic as an Opportunity for Growth

In addition to Eriksen, OHOW physical therapist Matthew Pitton also became a Board-Certified Orthopedic Clinical Specialist in physical therapy around the same time this year. 

Matt Pitton headshot

Like his fellow clinician, Pitton first discovered physical therapy after seeking treatment for several sports-related injuries as a student-athlete. 

“I always liked sports, and I always liked science,” Pitton said. “Physical therapy seemed like a good mix of the two.” 

Pitton enrolled in Marquette University’s undergraduate program for athletic training and stayed at Marquette to obtain his master’s degree in Physical Therapy. Pitton then worked throughout the Milwaukee area before working at OHOW’s on-site rehabilitation clinic in Glendale

While Pitton was interested in becoming a Board-Certified Orthopaedic Clinical Specialist for some time, he saw the decline in patients due to the COVID-19 pandemic as the perfect opportunity to study and prepare for the specialty examination. 

“I started March of 2020 using training modules and then spent about a year studying for it,” Pitton said. “I want to be an expert in the field and make sure I know the latest research. So it was a good way for me to make sure that I stayed at the top of my game.”

Now that patient appointments have ramped back up to pre-pandemic numbers, Pitton says that the specialty has brought a new perspective to how he treats his patients. 

“The specialty has elevated my treatments. As a result, I know more, and I’m more aware of some of the up-and-coming research,” Pitton said. “It’s been a long and beneficial process to reevaluate how I do things.”

What is a Board Certified Orthopedic Clinical Specialist (OCS)?

Laura Sullivan, PT, works with patient.

Orthopedic specialization within the physical therapy profession is a highly esteemed distinction governed by the American Physical Therapy Association’s (APTA) American Board of Physical Therapy Specialties

According to the APTA’s website, “The Orthopaedic Clinical Specialist uses advanced techniques and methods to assist the patient toward optimal function through corrective, adaptive, and prophylactic management of the neuromusculoskeletal system.”

To earn this specialization, physical therapists must meet several application requirements and pass a rigorous examination. The process of studying for the exam took both Ericksen and Pitton around a full year to complete. To prepare, they used online and in-person training modules and courses and examined scientific and trade publications. 

“It is the hardest test I’ve ever taken. It’s a full 8-hour day of testing,” Ericksen explained. “The questions are full paragraphs. The whole point is they want to make sure that you’re an expert in the field, well-trained, and not just picking an answer.” 

In addition to being distinguished members of the physical therapy field, Board-Certified Orthopaedic Clinical Specialists treat patients with a high level of detail and implement best practices. 

“If I’m using best practice, it’s the best thing for the patient,” Erickson said. “I need to be able to pick up on red flag symptoms. For example, many times, cancer in the spine can present with symptoms down the legs. And if you’re not able to pick that out, you may be making them worse because of the time lost.”

Additionally, Orthopaedic Clinical Specialists are required to be knowledgeable with current treatment techniques. 

“There are some things I learned along the way in this process, through discovering new research about different diagnosis and treatment techniques, that I incorporate into my practice now,” Pitton explained. 

We are proud to have Ericksen, Pitton, and Sullivan, as a part of the OHOW team. In achieving this impressive specialty, they have demonstrated their advanced knowledge, skills, and experience. Reach out today to make an appointment with these or any of our talented physical therapists.

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