Physical Therapy in South Dakota: Meet Megan Cook

Physical Therapy in South Dakota: Meet Megan Cook

We take pride in our team of physical therapists at Orthopedic Institute (OI). This talented group of individuals can be a key asset when dealing with pain or other orthopedic conditions.

Our featured team member this time around is Megan Cook. Megan graduated from the University of Sioux Falls and earned her doctorate in physical therapy from Creighton University. She primarily specializes in outpatient rehabilitation and aquatic therapy.

Keep reading to find out more about some of Megan’s most unique experiences since joining the team, as well as what she prides herself on in her care.

How did you decide to become a PT?

I was involved in sports throughout my childhood and was interested in the field of athletic training. My senior year of high school, I tore my ACL and meniscus playing volleyball and had to undergo surgery and extensive therapy. My own rehabilitation process opened my eyes to the career of physical therapy.

What led you to join the OI team?

I spent five months with the OI sports medicine team while I was recovering from my own surgery, and they were very knowledgeable and kind. My own success story as a patient led me to believe in the work that OI is doing. After physical therapy school at Creighton University, I moved to Scottsdale, Ariz., to begin my career. When I became engaged to my husband and moved back to the Sioux Falls area, I knew that OI was the place I wanted to work.

Describe a unique experience you’ve had working as a PT for OI.

I had the opportunity to work with the cast of the Broadway musical Matilda while they were in Sioux Falls performing at the Washington Pavilion. I was unsure of what to expect but was told that the cast members have an extremely demanding athletic component to their shows, so they often are susceptible to injury while traveling around the country. I stepped in as their “PT for the day” and treated multiple cast members in a fast-paced backstage setting, providing massage, stretching, corrective exercises and manual techniques according to their specific needs. It was fun to get to know the cast members and to be able to help them while they are away from their primary providers.

What is your favorite part of your job?

The best part of my job is forming relationships with patients and empowering them to be active in their pursuits of independence. I love it when patients stop back to report to me how well they are doing months or years after completing physical therapy.

What are the strengths of OI’s PT team?

There is a camaraderie that allows us to ask questions of each other and collectively seek answers that will benefit our patients. The staff has extensive knowledge and many years of combined experience, which makes it a great environment for learning new things on the job every day.

What is the best part about working with patients?

I love meeting a variety of personalities and seeing the hope in their eyes when they realize that “PT” doesn’t always consist of “pain and torture.”

If you could tell every patient one thing before they came in, what would it be?

Speak up, and be honest with us about your symptoms and your personal needs. If you do not like the “idea” of therapy, just come in and give us a chance. We are able to tailor a PT program specifically for your goals—you don’t have to be an athlete to participate in a PT program.

What is your career highlight?

I have had many patient-oriented highlights in my career, including seeing wheelchair-bound patients walk again and meeting patients who become life-long friends. Another highlight was helping to open OI’s first-ever outreach PT clinic located at GreatLIFE Woodlake Athletic Club. It has been a great two years of working alongside the GreatLIFE staff and offering excellent PT services, including aquatic therapy, on the southwest side of Sioux Falls.

How do you spend your time when you’re not at OI?

I can’t wait to get home to my two little girls every night. They are five and three years old, and I am constantly chasing them around the neighborhood. Time with my family and husband is important to me. If I get “spare time,” I like to run and play tennis and golf.

Get to know more about the PT team at OI here.

5 Pieces of Student Athlete Protective Gear for Outdoor Sports

5 Pieces of Student Athlete Protective Gear for Outdoor Sports

The fall is just around the corner—the student athletes in your family might already have started practices to prep for the upcoming season. But when it comes to staying safe in outdoor practices and games, there are several ways you can outfit your athlete with the right protection.

Here are five pieces of protective gear you should keep in mind.


Athletic glasses aren’t merely for those students who wear contact lenses or traditional glasses in their daily lives—eye protection is a great option for vision safety in general. Ensure you’re using certified sports protective eyewear that meets the standards and rules of the sport in question. Not all sports eyewear is prescribed—you can wear this type of protection to prevent injury or impact and to block out over-exposure to UV rays.


Their requirement in organized sports varies, but any contact-sport athletes should at least consider a mouthguard, whether it’s mandated or not. This level of protection can reduce your risk of tooth chips or breaks, and even cuts on the inside of your mouth. Just make sure that it’s been properly fitted to your jaw—have it fitted by a sports medicine professional for best results.

Properly-Fitted Helmet

Many sports, particularly high-impact ones, require use of a helmet for all or part of game time. But if your student athlete’s helmet isn’t properly fitted, it can’t truly do its job to the best of its potential. Make sure the pads inside the helmet, the chin strap and the face mask meet standards set by your state’s athletic board. As far as fit goes, a good rule of thumb is that it should fit relatively snugly without use of the chin strap. Make sure to check for a NOCSAE (National Operating Committee on Standards for Athletic Equipment) sticker—it’s the organization that regulates the safety of helmets.


Depending on the sport, joint protection could be critical for you student athlete. This may include the standard elbow and knee pads for resisting injury from tumbles and contact with competitors. Hip and tail pads are required for high-contact sports such as football or hockey and can provide protection from contusions.

Sun Protection

Depending on the time of year, one piece of protective gear that may be easy to count out are those that screen out sun exposure. Whether it’s visors or billed hats to keep sun out of eyes in outdoor events or proper application of sunblock, student athletes spend a great deal of time in direct sunlight in practices, games and meets. Reduce the risk of skin cancer and other related complications by planning ahead.

10 Questions with Dr. Eric S. Watson

10 Questions with Dr. Eric S. Watson

We’re digging into the impressive roster of physicians we have here at Orthopedic Institute (OI), letting you get to know some of the team members that make us proud.

Today’s showcased team member is Dr. Eric S. Watson, one of our physicians. Dr. Watson graduated from California State University—Fullerton before attending medical school at Creighton University. He joined the OI team in 2004 and has spent his time offering specialized care in foot, ankle, knee and general orthopedics.

Let’s take a look at why Dr. Watson loves serving his patients and how he approaches work in the orthopedic medicine field.

1. How did you decide to become a physician?

I like to say that, when I was five years old, I broke my femur, was in traction and a body cast and, after that, had always wanted to be an orthopedic surgeon—except that’s not really true. (The femur breaking part is, but my interest in orthopedics started much later.)

I always liked science and always did well in sciences in high school. I went to college and started pre-med—I liked the courses and the science behind it, but I didn’t really know everything that being a doctor entailed. I took a course to be an EMT, and I worked as a tech in the ER—that was really my first patient experience. I really enjoyed it. I liked taking care of the patients. I liked what I was seeing—the medical side of it. When I decided I wanted to go to medical school, I liked orthopedics best. I applied for residency, and here I am.

2. What led you to join the OI team?

I had been working in Kansas City, and my wife was finished with her residency. My family lives south of Las Vegas, and that really was not a place we wanted to raise our family, so we thought maybe we would look up Sioux Falls. Before we moved here, we happened to be visiting when Orthopedic Institute had built its new building. We were with my wife’s family, and they took us by it—they kept dropping hints that we should live here. It was a no-brainer once I interviewed at OI. There is just much more opportunity—you have your own life, your own say.

3. What’s your favorite part of your job?

Obviously, I like the technical piece. I like surgery. I love putting fractures back together. It is also always fun to get to know people. You see them, they come in and they are kind of at their worst. They are having a bad day when they have to meet me, usually. Then they heal and get well. What is really fun for me isn’t the last time I see them in the office, but when I run into them on the street. I see them walking, not limping, and it makes you feel good. I like it when I see people out in the community that I have taken care of.

4. What are the strengths of the OI physician team?

We don’t have any holes—we have got everything covered. We cover every piece of orthopedics. We have joint reconstruction plus revision. We have a tumor guy and a pediatric guy—hand, foot and ankle. There is just nothing we are lacking. I think people would be amazed at what we do here and the things we accomplish. There is almost no need to go elsewhere. I think that is the strength—we have the areas covered, and they are covered by very strong surgeons.

5. What’s the best part of working with patients?

It is really fun to see them come back and resume their life—that is one of the biggest things in orthopedics. It’s concrete. It’s not like having a chronic illness. If someone had a fracture, and you put it back together, they heal. So many people have these injuries and they struggle, but they do well in spite of it. It is awesome. That is what I get the most out of—seeing people excel.

6. If you could tell each patient one thing before they came in to see you, what would it be?

What I would want people to know is that my decision-making is always going to be based on what I would do for myself or my own family.  That does not mean that everyone’s care is going to be the same—it depends on what the overall situation is. I try to look at it from the perspective of what I would want, what I would want for my mom, cousin or kids. That’s how I try to make my decisions.

7. What would you consider your career highlight?

I don’t know—I am not sure if I have had it yet. There is not one patient or one thing that makes a highlight. All of the individuals go into the tapestry, so hopefully your highlight is your career—not one thing in your career. Hopefully it is consistently good care over an extended amount of time. To me, that would be the highlight. That you would consistently do well by your patients.  There are always certain cases that make you feel good, but that’s not the end all, be all. The goal is to do well for everyone you take care of.

8. How do you spend your time when you’re not at OI?

Usually shuttling kids to athletic things. I feel like a chauffeur when I am not here. I’m a soccer and hockey dad. I also like to fish. (I don’t get to fish very often, but I enjoy fishing.) I really enjoy watching my kids play sports and music, too. My oldest enjoys music, so we go to his recitals and performances. To see someone play an instrument, because I have none of that skill, is impressive enough. But then, to have practiced something, get up in front of your peers and people you don’t even know and perform is… Wow!

9. What’s your go-to movie snack?

Junior Mints! I am a bit of a Junior Mints snob. If they are old and kind of chewy, then I am not that big of a fan. But if they are new and fresh and the chocolate is almost like crispy then… good stuff. By the way, I don’t take them in the operating room—no Kramers. (Excuse the Seinfeld reference.)

10. How would you spend your ideal birthday?

A birthday is just a day—it’s nice when people wish you well, but I guess I don’t have a perfect birthday plan. Since I have a wife and four kids, I would rather be doing what the family wants to do. We make a big deal about our kids’ birthdays—we like to make it all about them! I think going through medical school and residency that holidays or special days seem to be de-valued, because sometimes you are on-call for your birthday or Christmas. We still get together for whatever we’re celebrating, but the “day” itself does not always mean that much—and I know my wife is kind of the same way, working in the ER. (They are never closed either.)

4 Low-Impact Exercises Everyone Should Be Doing

4 Low-Impact Exercises Everyone Should Be Doing

Despite your best efforts, not everyone is in the right shape or at the right life stage for an intense workout every day. But thanks to a wealth of options, you can still get in your regular exercise without engaging in high-intensity, high-impact routines.

Here are four low-impact, effective exercises that you should consider.


No, you don’t have to hop in the next kayak or canoe to get your rowing in. A great low-impact exercise you can do at home or in the gym is making use of the rowing machine. It’s a phenomenal way to work out your full body without putting undue pressure on your knees, ankles and other joints. Take it at your own speed, and work up to more intense workouts. As an added bonus, it can work wonders for your back alignment and posture when done properly. Make sure to consult a certified trainer to ensure you’re using correct form so that you maximize the effectiveness of the exercise and decrease risk of injury.


There are plenty of benefits to making yoga a part of your daily life—flexibility, focus and balance, just to name a few. It also happens to be a low-impact exercise that can still offer up noticeable results in your fitness routine. There is a spectrum of options from which to choose, including relaxation yoga and sculpting yoga—you choose your comfort level, and instructor-led classes can get you started. When it comes to trying something new, safety in numbers can help. Gather some friends for a trial run of a local yoga course.

Step Climbing

It’s an action you likely have to do on a semi-regular basis—why not make it part of your exercise routine? Step climbing, whether it’s the staircases in your home, a stair machine or platform you’d use for a step aerobics class, burns ample calories without putting too much stress on your joints. If lunges or squats are out of your wheelhouse, step climbing can be a good replacement exercise with lower impact. And Prevention magazine estimates 45 minutes could clock in at as much as 429 calories burned, on average.


If running is too high-impact for your tastes and walking isn’t quite exciting enough to keep your attention, why not introduce a nature element to the mix? Pick a favorite nearby state park or nature trail, and engage in some hiking. Sometimes adding things such as bird-watching or exploring can make exercise seem like less of a chore. And as long as you wear proper footwear and protect yourself with bug repellent, it’s a great way to get a low-impact walk in without feeling like time is crawling by.

Need Training Guidance?

The Orthopedic Institute team and OI Performance Training and Physical Therapy Sioux Falls , can help you with proper training technique throughout your fitness journey. Click here to learn more about what we can provide.