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Physical therapist reflects on career, education during National Physical Therapy Month


October 22, 2021

Graduating from Langston University, Dr. Mikayla Orr recently began working at the Chickasaw Nation Purcell Outpatient Clinic in Purcell, Oklahoma.

Recent Langston University graduate Dr. Mikayla Orr said that physical therapy is a career in which she is helping people improve their quality of life. After earning her Doctorate of Physical Therapy, Dr. Orr began her professional career in August with the Chickasaw Nation at the Purcell Outpatient Clinic.

Dr. Orr said in her line of work every day is different and every patient is different. Physical therapy involves working with people who have many different problems. From learning how to balance again after traumatic brain injury to learning to walk after hip replacement, each case has its own set of challenges that she and the patient must identify and overcome together. Training people to use their bodies to their full potential is rewarding to Dr. Orr.

"I have a lifetime of learning ahead of me," Dr. Orr said. "There is so much for me to learn, both on the job through my patients and through continuing education. I am honored to be that constant person caring for my patients during some of the most difficult times of their lives. To be there for them and help them exceed their goals is so rewarding."

Dr. Orr grew up in Jenks, Oklahoma. Before attending Langston University, she spent time in Ada, Oklahoma.

She receives her Chickasaw heritage from her father, Mike Orr. Dr. Orr is appreciative of the period she spent within the Chickasaw Nation, graduating with a Bachelor's of Science from East Central University.

"I have great pride in being Chickasaw, being part of the Chickasaw Nation," Dr. Orr said. "Governor Anoatubby has really helped all his people – not just Chickasaws but all Oklahomans. I am proud to be Chickasaw."

Her Chickasaw heritage is something she has always been aware of. It has always been a part of Dr. Orr's life. According to Dr. Orr, the Chickasaw Nation has played an important role in helping her achieve her educational goals, and that has carried on to her professional career. She is proud to be able to give back to the people who have given her so much.

"I am at the Purcell Outpatient Clinic," Dr. Orr said. "I love it. The staff is knowledgeable and welcoming. It is a family atmosphere."

Typically, Dr. Orr works with First American patients in the Purcell Outpatient Clinic from four to eight weeks. This could be longer if needed. She rehabilitates many types of injuries.

At Langston University, Dr. Orr spent three years in classroom and clinical settings. Her last year of training was comprised of internships at various clinics and hospitals, in both outpatient and inpatient settings. These included St. Francis Hospital at its Neuro Rehabilitation Center in Muscogee, Oklahoma, and its acute care facility in Tulsa, Oklahoma, among others.

Dr. Orr believes working with a patient's family may be as important as working with the patient, themselves.

"If the patient wishes, it is always good to involve the family in physical therapy," Dr. Orr said. "Family education is really important, especially if someone is going to be dependent on their family. Of course, with pediatric patients you work closely with parents or their guardians. It's important to let them know what is going on in therapy in order for them to take part at home, if needed."

Dr. Orr plans to continue working for the Chickasaw Nation for the foreseeable future. She will also continue taking advantage of learning opportunities to stay at the top of her profession.

She currently resides in Norman, Oklahoma, with her fiancé, Austin Little.

October is National Physical Therapy Month

October is National Physical Therapy Month and a time to celebrate the profession and all the ways physical therapists, physical therapist assistants and students of the profession help improve lives across the country. A member of the American Physical Therapy Association for nearly three years, Dr. Orr has a wealth of knowledge of the history of physical therapy.

"National Physical Therapy Month allows the public to learn more about the physical therapy profession," Dr. Orr said. "During World War I, female physical therapists were male physicians' support system. In the 1920s, the APTA was formed. Now a national organization that promotes physical therapy, its mission and vision applies to all physical therapists."


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