Illuminating Insights: Maral Javadifar

Maral Javadifar, PT, DPT, CSCS played 4 years of college basketball at Pace University. At Pace, her team made it to the NCAA tournament three out of four years, with one appearance to the Sweet 16. Javadifar graduated from Pace University with a B.S. in Molecular Biology and attended the DPT program at New York Medical College. While in PT school, Javadifar became CSCS, SFMA, and FMS certified. Javadifar is currently working on her manual therapy certification through NAIOMPT. Javadifar was born and raised in Queens, NY and recently accepted a position with Bodies in Motion in Fairfax, VA.
maral professional


How do you assess movement and where does movement play into your practice?

Movement is an integral component of everyone’s life. My approach to assessing clients includes a thorough history and subjective, analyzing movement patterns, reproducing symptoms, use of an assessment geared toward answering the “why” question, then treating the acute/chemical pain via manual techniques, and finally reassessing movement quality and symptoms. In my practice, I assess movement based on the principles of the selective functional movement assessment (SFMA) and the functional movement screen (FMS). Depending on the client, I will use one or both of the functional movement systems. More often than not I will utilize the SFMA (unless I have a patient who would benefit from other assessments) and perform breakouts to determine the root cause of my client’s impairments.  In conjunction with the functional movement systems, performing a thorough orthopedic and neurological assessment is just as vital. The foundational skills that we learn in our physical therapy programs need to be fundamentally sound. The movement systems have helped me integrate a plan of care that is individualized and specific to the client. Patients aren’t protocols.

You are a former collegiate athlete, how has this experience affected you as a PT in assessment and treatment

Prior to my collegiate basketball career I tore my ACL. What many thought would be a career ending injury ended up to be just a bump in the road to becoming a scholarship athlete. Gaining that perspective about injuries and recovery is helpful in relating to the emotions of many clients. My PT developed an individualized plan for me and my specific goals. This early experience showed me the importance of treating no two patients the same.

Being a college athlete I was trained to play through discomfort, pain and injury. Like, most athletes I cared more about being out on the floor competing than I did about sustaining my body’s function. I had a very narrow vision as a college athlete and could not see the bigger picture. Understanding the mindset of an eager and sometimes impatient athlete attempting to return to play is imperative to their specific care and relates similarly to many patients working towards recovery.

As a physical therapist and health care professional I am not just looking at the muscle/joint/soft tissue etc. I am looking to 1) listen 2) build a connection 3) develop trust 4) assess and develop a plan that is inline with the client’s goals.

maral basketball

You have worked as a PT with college athletes, how is assessing and treating them different than a recreational athlete?

My clinical assessment would not differ too greatly. Treatments may be more aggressive for a college athlete because the degree of pressure.

There are a variety of interests at play in treating a college athlete. It is important to remember that you are also working with coaches, doctors, athletic trainers, strength coaches, and parents/guardians who all have different expectations for the athlete.

I treat recreational athlete with a similar degree of urgency however the treatment focuses solely on the patient and his/her goals versus the expectations of many.

What advice do you have for women that want to work in athletics?

Work hard and be confident. Seek opportunities that seem far fetched. One of my mentors, Don Reagan reminds me to “Always do your best and expect success.”

You also have a strength and conditioning background, how do you think strength and conditioning and PT can symbiotically support and enhance athletic injuries?

Rehabilitation doesn’t stop when you have reached a specific range of motion or muscle grade. This is why physical therapy and strength & conditioning are overlapping entities. Once the client or athlete is rid of chemical pain and they start to develop symmetry in their movement patterns. A solid strength program is necessary for these athletes to perform their sport with resilience. Therefore, strength and conditioning is a more advanced and focused component of rehabilitation with goals and metrics that are geared towards a more aggressive plan.

If you could go back to being a PT student, what advice would you give yourself?

Embrace the process. PT school can be hectic and overwhelming, but appreciating the material and experiences at that moment is far more valuable than memorizing material for one exam. Carpe-diem, the enjoyment of the pleasures of the moment without concern for the future.

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