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Get to Know Our Therapists: Mika Toribara, DPT

Here's a behind-the-scenes look at our team of physical therapists.
By Lily Beltran
Get to Know Our Therapists: Mika Toribara, DPT

 

Where are you located and what do you like to do for fun?

I’m in Menlo Park, CA. When I’m not treating patients, I’m playing in a handbell choir or taiko drumming.

What inspired you to become a physical therapist?

I was a ballroom dancer in college. It turns out dancing in heels can be a bit treacherous, and I ended up tearing my meniscus. When I went to the doctor, he prescribed me Vicodin and told me I may need to stop dancing altogether. I remember thinking that was crazy and started looking into other options. Luckily, I found an amazing PT who told me there was no reason to stop doing what I loved. Within three months of physical therapy, I was back to dancing. I remember thinking that physical therapy seemed so magical and fascinating. Unlike my doctor, my PT had taken the time to sit with me and listen to my goals and desires. I loved that aspect of the treatment and the strong connection I made with my physical therapist.

What’s the greatest reward of your work?

Patients achieving their goals is really exciting for me. Whenever I start working with a new patient, I encourage them to make specific goals that they feel excited about and are truly connected to. When we reach them, it’s a reason to celebrate. It’s really cool to see how far a lot of my patients come and see them get back to doing what they love.

For example, one of my patients sprained his ankle right before this trip he had planned to hike up a mountain. After working together, he was still able to make the trip and sent me picture from the top of the mountain. I also recently worked with an older woman who had a goal of being able to pick up her baby granddaughter. When she reached her goal, that was an amazing day.

And the greatest challenge?

Sometimes it’s hard to not get too emotionally invested in patients. I tend to take on other people’s problems and take their issues home with me. In the past, when my patients weren’t doing well or were having a hard time, I’d spend my nights feeling upset and worried. That drained my energy and lead to burnout. I’ve had to work hard to create a mental barrier between work and my personal life.

Tell us a bit about your experience as a PT before joining Luna.

Before Luna, I had been working a full time clinical PT job. To be honest, I was really struggling. I was seeing too many patients per day, the pace was too quick, and I wasn’t getting the quality time with each patient that I’d hoped for. Dealing with health insurance wasn’t so great either. I would say I was burnt out, discouraged, and exhausted.

What’s the best part of being a part of Lunaverse?

Having the freedom to quit my full time PT job and pursue multiple part-time projects at once. I started working with Luna this past September, and I’ve also been working as a life coach on the side. It’s been wonderful to be in control over my schedule and the pace of my work.

I also suffer from a chronic pain condition that prevents me from being on my feet all day. This was a real challenge in my full time clinical role. Luna’s concierge team makes a real effort to schedule a little extra time for me between patients. I really appreciate that kind of support.

Luna has also given me the freedom to travel more, which is one of my greatest passions. In a clinical role, it can be really hard to get time off. With Luna, I was able to take a full month off last year to travel to Thailand. I hiked, went to cooking classes, participated in a meditation retreat. That trip was incredibly meaningful and important to my personal growth. I’m so grateful to have the flexibility to travel.

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