As a basketball player at Barry College, Britney Mobley saw her fair share of career-ending sports injuries, and her desire to help athletes suffering from injuries get back in the game led her to a career as a physical therapist.
“I played basketball in college and had several teammates and was around a lot of athletes who had career-ending type injuries,” Mobley said. “And I kind of saw what it did…, and it’s a lot of big psychological change when one goes from being an athlete and being a part of a team to not. And I really kind of got involved in the sports medicine program there working with these athletes, the ones that we’re trying to actually get back to play while they’re in college and then the ones who realize that they probably will never play again. … I was kind of interested in the sports medicine aspect of health care, but at that point decided to go into rehab.”
Mobley graduated from Barry College in 2005 and decided to enroll in a physical therapy graduate program due to her experiences working with the athletic training program at Barry. She graduated with a master’s in physical therapy from Armstrong Atlantic State University in 2008 and received her doctorate from Shenandoah University in 2011. Mobley started working at the Vereen Center in 2009, and she is now our sports medicine coordinator.
“I am the sports medicine coordinator, so I actually get to go out and work with all of our athletic trainers that are at our various schools,” Mobley said. “These kids (athletic trainers) are usually coming right out of undergrad with their athletic training degree. Occasionally we have a few that have had a few years’ experience, but for the most part they’re still learning just as all practitioners are; we all are. So, I get a chance to interact with them and hopefully teach them some things about the rehab side of things that sometimes they do not necessarily get on the athletic training side.”
The Vereen Team functions as a single unit, working together to help its patients recover from injury, and according to Mobley that’s what makes the Vereen Center special.
“We have several clinicians with very high specializations; we also have dedicated physicians that are part of our staff that help us at any point when we need them,” Mobley said. “Our administration here at Colquitt Regional Medical Center, they back us a hundred percent. They are constantly saying, ‘Go do more. Do more. Do more.’ That’s exciting, when you’re the one that gets to go out and do more and find more places where we can make a footprint in their communities. … So I think we have a team concept here that’s very similar to our sports programs within our schools.”
Mobley’s favorite part of the job is helping athletes return to the sports they love and get back in the game.
“Probably what I love most about my job is seeing these kids go back to play and seeing them return to being an integral part of their team, whether it is the captain or the starting pitcher or whatever it may be, whatever their role is, going back to their role and seeing them succeed on that role,” Mobley said.
Athletes with serious injuries are often more determined than even Mobley is to get themselves back to the competition, and that determination and passion to pursue their athletic dreams inspire her to do whatever she can for them.
“You get to meet these people when they’re not at their best, and then you get to establish a relationship, and you become the person that they lean on to give them hope to return back to their prior level of function,” Moley said. “With athletes, that prior level of function is back in the game playing at their prior level of function. And some of these athletes may have dreams and aspirations to play at the collegiate level, even past the collegiate level, which we’ve worked with some of our athletes that have done that. It’s motivating to see them work hard to get back to that level, and that’s probably what keeps me motivated.”
According to Mobley, one of the hardest parts of her job is not motivating athletes to work harder in physical therapy, but competing for time with athletes’ other obligations.
“High school and teenage years, even college years with some of the kids we look at, it’s a busy time,” Mobley said. “They’re trying to decide on what they wanna do for a career. They’ve got social aspects going on. They’ve got a team that’s doing other things without them now. So, dealing with all the other variables can probably be the most difficult. Most of the time, like I said, one of the best things about working with athletes is they’re motivated, so they’re gonna naturally do what you ask them to do. Most of the time it’s not having to push them.”
The most important aspect of Mobley’s work with athletes is building a relationship based on trust and communication.
“First off, with these athletes they have to know that you know what you’re talking about,” Mobley said. “So, the first things that I try to relay to these athletes and to these patients are that, ‘Hey, I know how to get you back to where you want to go, back in the game to your sport.’ … These athletes, they want constant communication. They want to know, ‘When can I go back and hit? When can I start running?’ And these guys are constantly in the office or texting me or calling me, emailing me, whatever. Mom and dad’s calling me. And so I think communication with them is also another way to gain the trust, and it builds a relationship for them.”
That trust and communication doesn’t end when athletes return to their sports, either.
“We try to stay in communication with these kids even when they’re back because athletes actually have a greater chance, once they’re injured, of re-injury,” Mobley said. “And so we want to make sure when they go back to play back in the game that they still have an open line of communication with us and with our department so that we can help them as they get back even months into their return to play.”
Mobley’s biggest health tip, to athletes and non-athletes alike, is to take preventative measures regarding injury and health.
“Be proactive,” Mobley said. “Try not to wait until you are injured. Do things to prevent injury. … Stay active; make sure you’re doing enough activity a day – the daily recommended, I think, is 30 minutes a day, three to five times a week. Do multiple different modes of activity, not just one specific, like running for example. Integrate other things: weightlifting, diet, all these different things to just keep you well.”