By David Ford
Youngstown State University and its Department of Physical Therapy will become the first physical therapy program to launch the Walk with a Doc on Jan. 25 at the Southern Park Mall in Boardman.
The Walk with a Doc program idea had its inception in 2005 and was created by David Sabgir, a cardiologist at Mt. Caramel Hospital in Columbus, OH.
In a 2015 “CNN Heroes” interview, Sabgir described his inspiration to create positive change in his patients.
“The number one problem my patients experience is a sedentary lifestyle,” Sabgir said. “I was frustrated at my ineffectiveness to create a change in my patients.”
Sabgir continued, expressing the positivity his program has created.
“There is no better way to show that you care about a patient than by going to the extra mile with them,” he said. “It’s just the patient and the physician talking about whatever topic the patient wants to talk about.”
He said 80 percent of cardiovascular disease is preventable if “we all just go for a walk.”
Cara Berg-Carramusa, instructor and director of clinical education in the physical therapy department at YSU, said the idea to bring the Walk with a Doc program to Youngstown started when she met Sabgir.
“I met David at a conference [that] I’m on the committee for and talked to him about starting a Walk with a Doc program, but with a whole new twist to it,” Berg-Carramusa said.
Berg-Carramusa said the YSU sponsored Walk with a Doc program will be more focused on physical therapy and led by physical therapists, rather than physicians.
Berg-Carramusa said Walk with a Doc is designed to empower and educate the participants on the value of exercise and healthy lifestyle choices. As for the students, the program allows them to participate in community outreach, to interface with patients and learn valuable communication and listening skills.
“Walking is the best medicine. Walking does good for just about everything,” Berg-Carramusa said. “It affects everything from the top of your head to the tip of your toes. I always tell my students that.”
Brandy Schumaker, a second-year student in the physical therapy department, works on the four-person student committee designed to help implement the Walk with a Doc program locally.
For Schumaker, community outreach and her background in wellness are two major reasons she’s continued to volunteer for the program.
“I volunteered to stay on the project and see it out since I have a background and interest in wellness,” Schumaker said. “For me, a big part of this program is being able to reach more people that I might have been able to reach before.”
In addition to being a student, Schumaker is the assistant director for fitness and facility operations at the Andrew Recreation and Wellness Center. She said they want doctors from different perspectives at each event.
“We’re trying to get doctors in different areas and each date has a different doctor,” Schumaker said. “We want to get a registered dietician, someone with experience in holistic medicine and so on.”
In order to get the full benefits of exercise, the average person must also watch which foods they intake. The Walk with a Doc program is designed to improve physical health and well-being through exercise and healthy choices.
According to Amy Raabe, instructor, sports nutritionist and registered dietician at YSU, exercise and healthy eating work in conjunction to improve an individual’s well-being.
Raabe said in many cases, someone is described as, “skinny fat,” in which someone looks healthy on the outside, but doesn’t eat well.
“If you have someone who eats well, but does not exercise, there won’t be any cardiovascular conditioning benefits,” Raabe said.
The Walk with a Doc program is designed to promote both healthy eating and exercise, which can prevent cardiovascular diseases.
The program is free to the public and will take place at the mall’s concourse beginning at 9 a.m the last Thursday of every month. Each session will include light refreshments, health tips and discussions, as well as heart rate and blood pressure checks.
The program will continue until the end of 2018.