This week’s post is an interview with Kristina Dorkoski, PT, DPT, PYT, CPI. Kristina will be delivering an introduction to Professional Yoga Therapy’s evidence-based method in using yoga as medicine on April 18th at the Pennsylvania Physical Therapy Association’s Member Appreciation event. Learn more about Kristina’s topic and the event here.
Tell us about your history of teaching PYTS for MU – and how it came about.
A professor at Misericordia University did per diem work at my clinic and noticed I regularly utilized therapuetic Pilates and yoga with my patients. She asked me to create an elective for the physical therapy department at MU about using Pilates and yoga in rehabilitation. I did so, and began teaching at MU in 2010. The next year I enrolled in the Professional Yoga Therapy Studies program with the goal of enriching my teaching as well as my clinical practice. In 2013, when it came time to create a thesis project for my PYT certification, I decided to use my existing elective course at MU to teach about the PYT method, and Ginger and I worked together to create the new coursework. I was very lucky that my colleague Dr. Patricia Oyarce was already lecturing about PYT at The University of Mississippi Medical Center and was able to provide some initial insight for this project.
How has the PYT curriculum evolved your practice, and your teaching at MU?
It’s radically changed both for the better, and put my primary focus on patient-centered care. Not only do I have more tools in my toolbox in terms of treating patients, but I also have fresh inspiration for my teaching. For example, when I teach about neuroplasticity, I include research on the various lifestyle factors that positively and negatively impact neurogensis, in the hope that my students will share this important information with their patients in the future and improve those patients’ outcomes.
Tell us about your first “gig” with the PPTA – your invite to teach the PYT curriculum.
Some former DPT students of mine were serving on a PPTA committee that was searching for speakers for 90 minute concurrent time slots for a mini Combined Sections Meeting event to be held in September of 2014. They thought my background was interesting, so the committee reached out to ask me if I’d be interested in speaking and what potential topics I might offer. I confirmed that I’d love to do it and provided multiple options for topics, but they were most excited about the idea of an introduction to the PYT method. I agreed to this topic, and Ginger was generous in helping me prepare. I got a great turnout, and I was thrilled at the enthusiasm of the attending therapists, whose feedback led to a second opportunity for me to speak at a PPTA conference.
Tell us about your upcoming “gig” with PPTA. Can you outline what you will be speaking about, in brief?
On April 18th, I’m offering a three hour continuing education seminar about the PYT method at a PPTA member appreciation event. This session will introduce attendees to the PYT method, emphasizing its biopsychosocial approach to evaluation and treatment. The presentation will cover optimal breathing patterns to decrease stress response, while ensuring proper lumbopelvic stabilization. Additionally, we will study the role of systemic inflammation and the gut-brain connection as they relate to rehabilitation outcomes. My primary objective is that attendees will leave this session with means to empower themselves and their patients to take an active role in their own wellness.
What excites you the most about bringing yoga into the PT world?
Medical therapeutic yoga bridges the enormous chasm between what the biomedical model offers our patients, and what they truly need. Advancements in the understanding of how psychological, social, and environmental circumstances contribute to overall health demonstrate a clear link between lifestyle factors and an individual’s potential for chronic pain and disease. Healthcare delivery under our current medical model takes these interactions into account, but falls short in addressing the needs of the whole person, instead fragmenting care among various disciplines, limiting the potential of each provider to effect real change. Use of the PYT conceptual model is a game changer because it allows healthcare professionals to evaluate and treat people, as opposed to diagnoses, and yoga is the perfect modality to do this because it’s the original mind-body medicine!
About Kristina Dorkoski
Kristina is an outpatient physical therapist, professional yoga therapist, and certified Pilates instructor, specializing in neurological and geriatric rehabilitation at Allied Services Integrated Health Care System in Wilkes-Barre, PA. She enjoys melding holistic care with the latest technology in neurologic rehab. Her varied experience also includes the treatment of chronic pain, vestibular disorders, work-related injuries, and acute care and trauma patients. Dr. Dorkoski earned her BS in health science and MS in physical therapy from Misericordia University and doctorate in physical therapy from Temple University. She is an LSVT Big™ certified and PWR! trained clinician. Dr. Dorkoski is an adjunct faculty member at Misericordia University, where she instructs neuroscience labs and a special practices course she created on the use of Pilates and yoga in rehabilitation.