Physical Therapist Dedicated to Improving Quality of Life in COVID-19 Patients

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Dr. Tamika Love

Tamika Love, DPT, is among the many graduates of the University of Tennessee Health Science Center, who are serving as first responders during the coronavirus pandemic. A 2010 graduate of the UTHSC Department of Physical Therapy in the College of Health Professions, she has been assigned to assist in the rehabilitation of patients who have tested positive for COVID-19.

“Physical therapists have been deemed essential frontline workers as they help individuals diagnosed with COVID-19 regain their prior levels of movement and function,” said Jeffrey Taylor, PT, DPT, PhD, SCS, CSCS, chair of the Department of Physical Therapy. “We are extremely proud of Tamika and our other alumni and physical therapy colleagues that are helping to improve the quality of life in all of these patients.”

Dr. Love works at Baptist Memorial Hospital in Memphis. Like many health care professionals, she said the virus has drastically altered her work routine. “My workplace has implemented different security measures like temperature checks and wearing masks at all times,” she said. “You can only come in through certain entrances and no visitors are allowed, so it is very different.”

The unit that Dr. Love is assigned to has been designated as “the COVID unit,” due to the several negative pressure rooms available. “My duties vary,” she said. “While in recovery, a lot of these patients are really weak and deconditioned. There was no one to get them up and moving. Some of these patients are lying in the bed for days, if they aren’t able to get up by themselves. Physical therapists are called in for help with discharge planning and safety. It typically takes me more time to see my patients, too, because of the personal protective equipment that I am required to wear, if the patient is positive or suspected to have the virus.”

Dr. Tamika Love wears personal protective equipment as she gets a patient’s walker.

Dr. Love said she has learned a lot from her experience. “One of the biggest takeaways for me is that COVID-19 does not discriminate,” she said. “These patients look like all of us. I assumed, before I got involved with the actual treatment of these patients, that they would all be elderly patients and they’re not all as elderly as I was expecting. I feel like a lot of people that are younger feel invincible. This virus affects every age group and race, so we must take it seriously.”

Editor’s note: This is another in a series of stories looking at how UTHSC students, faculty, and staff across the campus are contributing to the battle against the coronavirus. We are seeking stories about students, faculty, staff, and alumni contributing to this effort. Please contact communications@uthsc.edu if you have ideas for future stories. For up-to-date information and resources about the coronavirus, go to https://uthsc.edu/coronavirus/.