Physical Therapist Elina Gonzalez’s intuition has been a driving force in her career. During one of her early cases, a child presented signs of muscle weakness and underdevelopment, but remained undiagnosed. Elina took the time to carefully examine her patient and consult the child’s father with additional questions about the child’s symptoms. Elina’s gut feeling told her this child most likely had Duchenne muscular dystrophy. She urged the patient’s father to revisit his doctor for further tests, and ultimately, she was right. The proper diagnosis was the first step in helping this patient, and only the beginning of Elina’s journey with Duchenne patients.
A fatal genetic disease with no cure, Duchenne muscular dystrophy causes muscle deterioration and affects more than 300,000 boys worldwide. As patients grow older, they typically lose their ability to walk by 12 years old and have an average life expectancy of mid 20s. With only two FDA-approved pharmaceutical treatments and one helping only a limited number of patients, physical therapy is the only non-pharmaceutical treatment that has a positive impact on most patients as they combat Duchenne.
With an education in PT from Loma Linda University and nearly 30 years in the physical therapy industry, Elina has encountered the rare disease of Duchenne more than just once. Currently a PT with the California Children’s Services program, her experiences as a PT made her realize that she needed to equip herself with all the tools possible to better help patients with Duchenne, leading her to sign up for the CureDuchenne Cares Certification Program.
“Working with Duchenne patients is different than other patients you work with as a PT. What is normal for other patients could be detrimental to a Duchenne patient’s health. As a PT, you have to better understand the way Duchenne works in order to help as best as you can to make your patient feel better,” said Elina.
Searching for a way to extend her knowledge in Duchenne, Elina enrolled in the CureDuchenne Cares Certification Program. As part of the program, Elina read in-depth case studies and research on Duchenne muscular dystrophy, allowing her to expand her prior knowledge on the disease. After completing the program, Elina feels she now has a community and group of personal resources she can turn to when helping Duchenne patients.
Developed by Jennifer Wallace, founder of the Duchenne Therapy Network, the CureDuchenne Cares Physical Therapist Certification program works in conjunction with CureDuchenne, a national nonprofit dedicated to finding a cure for Duchenne. The physical therapy, educational, and outreach program focuses on the most current standards of care, shared best practices, and the skills necessary to navigate the healthcare system.
“Now that I have completed the CureDuchenne Cares (certification) program, I want to be a resource to the Duchenne community. My goal is to remain informed on the development of treatments and make those available and accessible to my patients. I want them and their families to know that they have someone who is willing to help them get the best treatment offered,” said Elina.
As one of the CureDuchenne Cares Certified PTs around the U.S., Elina expressed, “I’m looking forward to utilizing my physical therapy experience and newly earned insight to help the Duchenne community.”
To contact Elina Gonzalez, click here.
If you are a physical therapist and are interested in learning more about the CureDuchenne Cares Physical Therapy certification program and its benefits, click here.
Are you looking for a physical therapist who is specially trained to care for your loved one with Duchenne? Check out the listings of CureDuchenne Cares Certified PTs across the nation here.