Jerick Nomura ’21 learns the intricacies of personalized physical therapy regimens at Sportsmedicine Hawaii in Aiea, HI

My name is Jerick Nomura and I will be entering my Junior year at Whitman College this upcoming fall. I am a biology major with intentions on minoring in psychology and chemistry. This summer I am interning at Sportsmedicine Hawaii, which is a physical therapy clinic based in Honolulu, Hawaii. Sportsmedicine Hawaii has two clinics, one in Honolulu and another in Aiea, Hawaii. This summer I am interning at the Aiea location assisting Dr. Kyle Higuchi, and Dr. Steven Tom to make sure the clinic runs smoothly.

On a daily basis I tend to the laundry, prepare treatment rooms, and assist patients with their rehabilitation workouts. I have assisted patients rehabilitate a wide range of joints and muscles including wrists, knees, and shoulders. I have worked with patients in order to regain strength and mobility in the various regions of the body. At the Sportsmedicine Hawaii clinic we rely heavily on a variety of modalities to treat patients. At the clinic patients go through an exercise regimen along with any combination of massage, cupping, and heat/cold compression.

During my time at Sportmedicine Hawaii I have demonstrated countless exercises, measured joint mobility, and provided modalities. I have also been able to observe a variety of rehabilitation methods such as cupping, using a biodex, and electrical stimulation. My favorite rehabilitation method to observe is cupping. Cupping is used as negative pressure on a muscle, which increases the blood flow to the area. Cupping can be beneficial to aid in the healing of scar tissue, and repair muscle fibers.

Some challenges of the job is being able to decode the patients exercise program. Since not every patient is the same, Dr. Higuchi and Dr. Tom specialize each program for the patient. It took me a while to be able to understand the chicken scratch and many codes that Dr. Higuchi and Dr. Tom use in their programs. It is also a challenge to juggle the many patients that are in the clinic at one time. Unlike many other physical therapy clinics Sportsmedicine does not take a one on one approach to therapy, instead there are a handful of physical therapist assistants and interns on the floor at one time tending to upwards of 20 patients at a time. Yes, it can get pretty hectic at times. Although there were some challenges, being a part of one’s rehabilitation process is very rewarding as you observe their progress. Eventually every patient is able to “graduate” and are able to walk out of the clinic doors for the last time confidently knowing there are able to resume daily life activities.

Overall, I have learned a lot since starting my internship at Sportsmedicine Hawaii. I have learned a lot about the many modes of treatment, different rehabilitation techniques, and the incredible healing abilities of the human body. I’ve been inspired by patients that I have grown connections with throughout their healing journey. I admire their perseverance to come in week in and week out even though every appointment may be painful. Their drive to want to get better shows how if you put your mind to something you can achieve anything even if it may seem impossible in the moment.


Experiences like Jerick Nomura’s are made possible by the Whitman Internship Grant, which provides funding for students to participate in unpaid internships at both for-profit and non-profit organizations. To learn how you could secure a Whitman Internship Grant or host a Whitman intern at your organization, click here or contact Assistant Director for Internship Programs Mitzy Rodriguez

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