As an avid runner and soccer player, Rachel VandenDool grew up knowing the importance of recovery from injuries and learning to move safely. Participating in every sport she could led to many sports-related injuries. She spent a lot of time in physiotherapists’ and chiropractors’ offices receiving care for her injuries and seeing first-hand the importance of proper rehabilitation. Intrigued by the rehab process and often excited to share what she’d learned about the body, VandenDool was drawn from a young age to work in physiotherapy.
Today, VandenDool has eight years of experience as a registered physiotherapist at clinics throughout Hamilton and in August, launched her own physiotherapy practice. Opening her practice, Origin Physiotherapy, has also brought her closer to her alma mater: she runs the business two days a week from Redeemer’s Athletic Centre.
“I believe the best way to identify the origin of a patient’s pain, and ultimately help them to achieve their goals, is to look at each patient as a whole.”
At Redeemer, VandenDool found success both on the soccer pitch and in the classroom. While captaining the women’s soccer team and racking up an impressive list of athletic awards, she worked towards the completion of a Bachelor of Arts in honours kinesiology. During her studies, VandenDool had the opportunity to work as a student trainer, travelling with a few of Redeemer’s varsity teams and taping their injuries for games. She went on to complete two physiotherapy placements while still a student, learning about day-to-day work in the field. These hands-on experiences helped to foster the passion that she’s had since childhood and confirm that she was on the right path.
“Redeemer’s liberal arts approach taught me to look at the world holistically, which is a philosophy at the core of my physiotherapy practice today,” said VandenDool. “I believe the best way to identify the origin of a patient’s pain, and ultimately help them to achieve their goals, is to look at each patient as a whole. My liberal arts background helps me to do this.” After graduating from Redeemer in 2007, VandenDool went on to complete a master of science in physical therapy at Queen’s University in 2010. She is now registered with the College of Physiotherapists of Ontario and is a member of the Canadian and Ontario physiotherapy associations.
As a busy mom of three, launching her business part-time has offered VandenDool an ideal work-life balance. Running Origin part-time allows her to spend quality time with her husband and kids and to share her skills and passion for healthy movement with patients. Each day presents VandenDool with new challenges and new opportunities to use her gifts. “No two patients are the same,” she reflected, “so I am constantly thinking of what is best for each individual. It keeps my job exciting and ever-changing.”
Physiotherapy is VandenDool’s calling, a profession where she can partner with God in his work of restoration and healing. “God designed our bodies with so much intricacy and complexity,” she continued. “I love sharing with patients how God created the body to work, what happens when dysfunction is present and how to restore it to better function. It is one of my favourite parts of being a physiotherapist.”
Royals athletes, students, faculty and staff book in with Origin for treatment of injuries or pain from long periods spent stationary. In January, VandenDool offered a workshop on posture and movement for office workers. Since then, faculty and staff have been integrating microbreaks with simple exercises, phone calls taken standing and other small changes into their workday. VandenDool plans to offer workshops for students in the future. It can be easy to set habits of movement and posture during academic studies that continue on in the workplace.
VandenDool sees patients on Tuesdays and Thursdays in Redeemer’s Athletic Centre, a place where she spent much of her time as a student. “I am excited to be back and to offer help to anyone who needs physiotherapy services,” she said. Not only is VandenDool offering the Redeemer community physio services, she is also giving students interested in the field the opportunity to job shadow her, paying forward the career mentoring that she received in her own undergrad.
From her degree to her practice, VandenDool’s passion and calling have made an impact on the Hamilton — and the Redeemer — community.