Dr. Jennifer Melancon, PT, DPT
My name is Dr. Jennifer Melancon, Doctor of Physical Therapy. I am “The Scar Lady”. I have been a physical therapist since 2012. My career path to physical therapy came via athletic training in high school and college. As student athletic trainer, I enjoyed the responsibility of helping my peers prevent sports injuries and return to full capacity when they were hurt. I had originally applied to The University of Louisiana at Lafayette as a nursing major but then switched to athletic training so I could work in the training room.
While I was in college, my grandmother had a massive stroke and I watched her recovery process all the way from almost dying to returning home to live independently with family support. She had the sweetest disposition but also had Alzheimer’s and would often repeat her stories. For years, whenever I would talk to her about my interest in physical therapy, she would tell me how her therapist would ask her to move her thumb. She couldn’t do it and thought it was absurd that they were asking her to do this one tiny task over and over. She saw the benefit of therapy when she was finally able to use her hand and arm again.
During her recovery, I was still contemplating completing the athletic training program. But I knew my calling when a trainer friend asked me what I wanted to do with my life. My immediate answer was “I want to be a physical therapist”. I changed my major to Kinesiology to allow me to complete the prerequisites and apply to physical therapy school.
I was blessed to attend The University of South Alabama and graduate with my Doctorate in Physical Therapy. I have always loved children, so naturally I thought I would work in pediatrics for my entire career. Little did I know that my career would take me everywhere, including pediatrics, inpatient rehabilitation, acute care, outpatient orthopedics, school districts, veteran care, hospitals and skilled nursing/extended care facilities all over the United States. I love teaching and am a clinical instructor for physical therapy/physical therapist assistant students. I have been honored to supervise allied health and medical students on international medical mission trips.
In each clinical setting I have enjoyed great patient interactions, although there have been many challenging things as well. I am a “feeler” and quickly read the emotional state of a person or group. Often, I subconsciously internalize other’s feelings and work hard to maintain a healthy emotional work-life balance. It is a privilege as a physical therapist to help people in good times and in hard times. I get to be part of monumental moments such as someone walking for the first time or relearning to do an activity. I also meet patients after the worst event of their life just happened and help them navigate the road to their “new normal”. I truly enjoy getting to know my patients and sharing laughter, accomplishment, frustration, pain and both happy and sad tears with them. I love the diversity and variety the physical therapy field offers.
I enjoy learning new techniques to help my patients by taking continuing education courses. These courses give me fresh energy and treatment ideas to add “tools” to my professional toolbox. Some of the classes that have profoundly shaped how I treat patients have been in NeuroKinetic Therapy, KinesioTaping, and learning to use The Dolphin NeuroStim. These treatments can lead to profound and often immediate relief from acute and chronic pain issues, as well as improve the function of both new and old scars.