Sometimes progress is measured in small steps. Ernie Phillips, with the help of his wife, Yvonne, sought out physical therapy services to help him improve his mobility, which had become increasingly limited by the onset of Parkinson’s disease. Through community outreach clinics hosted by the Department of Physical Therapy, he had the opportunity to work with Pacific’s doctor of physical therapy (DPT) students.

‘She was determined that he was going to walk straighter and he did.’

Yvonne shared how the power of positivity has helped Ernie regain his mobility. The students encouraged and prompted Ernie to try different exercises. “It was because they were so good in how they handled him that they made him want to do it,” said Yvonne Phillips. “I remember there was this one tiny little thing and I thought, ‘Oh my goodness, how is she going to handle him?’ Well, she practically carried him. She was determined that he was going to walk straighter and he did.”

She shared that the students’ positive attitude and encouraging words made a profound impact. “That’s what I liked about the attitude here, it was always positive; I think it’s contagious,” Phillips said. “That’s why it was so wonderful coming, they all had different attitudes or personalities, but they were all happy.”

Over the years they have worked with different groups of students. “We have file folders of exercises, but as each one would teach us things they would set them up so that we would be able to handle it, so that we wouldn’t have 100 exercises,” Phillips explained. “We would just do the ones that were the most beneficial.”


She emphasized the gratitude they felt in response to the care and attention they received from the DPT students. “They were so good with Ernie, because he does have a funny sense of humor and they always brought it out.”

“I have pictures in my mind of all of them. […] And they were always so sweet. They always wrote us thank you notes and we’re the ones that should be writing them. I always felt guilty afterwards because they really were outstanding. I sure hope they do well, as well, in the field, because, as I say, they are outstanding.”

By Anne Marie H. Bergthold
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