Student Member Spotlights - Wisconsin Physical Therapy Association - WPTA.org
Student Member Spotlights

Dan Zia, SPT

1.What inspired you to go into the Physical Therapy profession?

I started out as a mechanical engineering major at UW-Madison. I ended up tearing my left ACL, medial meniscus, and lateral meniscus in May 2008, the summer after my freshman year at UW. I went through surgery and physical therapy so I could get back to playing lacrosse. I was able to return to playing lacrosse way quicker than I should have, and a good part of that was due to my physical therapist. As I was going through my therapy, I realized I no longer wanted to be an engineer and liked the idea of helping others recover from major injuries and return to doing the things they loved. I took a few kinesiology classes during my fourth semester at UW, and I really enjoyed them. Then I tore my right ACL and MCL in December 2010, and that solidified my desire to go into physical therapy.

2. Please share a synopsis of your PT/PTA education (including what program, what level you are currently in, and previous education before your program) .

I am a second year student in the PTA program at Blackhawk Technical College. Before enrolling at Blackhawk, I earned a Bachelor of Science degree in biology from UW-Madison.

3. What is one of the most rewarding experiences you've had as a member of your program?

The experience that sticks out the most to me so far has to be my first clinical rotation. The original site I was assigned fell through, and I was then placed at the Central Wisconsin Center. I did not know much about CWC, and I had yet to take any neuro classes, so I was kind of going in blind and wasn't sure what to expect. My first day of treatments consisted of pretty much just PROM and helping one evaluation with goniometry. The following week I learned some facilitation techniques and was able to swim and do some passive stretching with some of the residents in the pool. It all seemed really simple and repetitive at first, but each resident had a different personality, and that made working with them fun and challenging at the same time. One resident would giggle if you made sneezing or hiccupping noises, and another resident liked the sound of keys jingling and would follow them with her eyes. Figuring out little things like that helped us get the residents more involved in their treatments and do as much of the exercises on their own as they could, and it was encouraging to see them smile and laugh.

Aside from the therapy part, I was amazed at everything the facility offered and the level of dedication of its staff. The most memorable example came on one of my last days at CWC. An individual we were seeing was having some discomfort stemming from their wheelchair so we had rehab tech look at the chair and do a pressure mapping. I was expecting at least a day on the turn-around time, but the rehab tech made the necessary adjustments to the cushion and fixed the pressure points within minutes while we did exercises on a mat table. It just blew my mind how quickly individuals received what they needed while at CWC. At the end of my time at CWC, I found myself wishing the rotation lasted longer. I was definitely glad my original placement didn't work out and CWC was able to take me.


4. If you'd like, please share a favorite family memory.

I'm not sure if it counts as a memory, but it has to do with my mom and my dog. In November 2014, I told my parents I wanted to adopt a dog from a rescue, and my mom wasn't fully on board with the idea. Then I told her the puppy I wanted was a 12 week-old pit bull mix. I was met with even more resistance than the time I told her I was getting a motorcycle. She told me pit bulls were vicious, aggressive, mean, dangerous, ugly...everything negative she had heard from the media. On the last day of November, I went to go adopt him (his name is Bane), and my mom decided to tag along to try to discourage me at the last second. There were plenty of other dogs at the adoption event, and my mom kept pointing to other dogs saying, "How about this one? What about this one?" I finally got Bane in the car, and we went to the vet to drop him off to be neutered. My mom was quiet the whole ride to the vet and back to my parents' house. I picked up Bane the next morning from the vet, and he got to spend the rest of the day hanging out with my parents and my sister at my parents' house. My mom was hesitant to interact with Bane at first, but at one point, Bane curled up on the couch next to my mom and put his head in her lap. My mom smiled and pet Bane, and that's when I knew she finally accepted him. Then the time came for Bane and I to head home to Madison (my parents live in Illinois), and the last thing my mom said to me as we were leaving was, "When are we going to see Bane again...er, I mean, when are we going to see you again?" Nice catch, mom. My sister lives with my parents, and she got a pit mix puppy from the same rescue in November 2015 so my mom went from despising an entire group of dogs to having two of those dogs constantly around her and completely changing her view of bully breeds. I still think she gets more excited about seeing Bane than me whenever we go back home.

5. Do you have a favorite book?  What types of books do you prefer?

My favorite book is A Chronicle of a Death Foretold by Gabriel Garcia Marquez. I have One Hundred Years of Solitude, also by Gabriel Garcia Marquez, laying around my apartment somewhere, and I intend to read that next. The other types of books I prefer are anything written by Kurt Vonnegut so I guess you could say sci-fi books. My favorites of his are Slaughterhouse-Five and Cat's Cradle.
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6. What's one of your favorite movies?

I get a lot of grief for it because it's not all rainbows and unicorns, but my favorite movie is Se7en. The storyline is one that has been done a few times with various tweaks here and there, but I think David Fincher has the best portrayal of the seven deadly sins, and Morgan Freeman and Brad Pitt do a great job with the wise veteran cop/brash rookie cop dynamic.

7. If you could learn to do anything, what would it be?

Drive a manual car. I have a motorcycle so I know how to use a manual transmission, but I get to use my hand to control a clutch that requires lots of fine motor control. The idea of using your less dexterous foot to control such a finicky object seems difficult to me.

8. If you could witness any event past, present or future, what would it be?

My answer to this question has always been to go back to 1908 and watch the Cubs win the World Series, but with the way things are going, I might be able to see a World Series win within the next few years (hopefully I didn't just jinx it). From here on out I think I'll change my answer to any point in time dinosaurs existed. I would hopefully be observing from a safe distance, or riding a T-Rex. It would be fun either way.

9. If you could have a super power, what would it be?

My favorite super hero is Batman, but he doesn't have any actual super powers. If I had to choose one, it would be the ability to fly. I love the idea of being able to go wherever I want on a whim. Deadpool and Wolverine's ability to heal from anything would be a close second.

10. What organizations are you currently involved with?


Other than the APTA, WPTA, and SSIG, I am involved with a few lacrosse organizations. I am a member and level 1 certified coach with US Lacrosse. I currently am an assistant coach with the Oregon Panthers boys U-11 team and the Dane County Coyotes Select boys U-11 team.

 

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