Michael Noonan is a clinical instructor for the University of Rhode Island’s physical-therapy program, as well as the founder of the family-run practice, Physical Therapy Services of Rhode Island. He comes from a long line of health professionals, which influenced his love for helping others. Noonan utilizes a holistic approach, which can eliminate the need for more drastic interventions such as heavy medications or surgery. Noonan is also a pastor at Living Truth Church in North Kingstown and he holds a B.S. in physical therapy from Marquette University and an M.S. in business management from Cardinal Stritch College.
PBN: Can you describe your firm’s holistic approach to therapy?
NOONAN: My approach to physical therapy, and what I have tried to instill within my business, is the knowledge that each of our beings, consists of three parts: the body, the soul and the spirit. Essentially, we are a three-part being. The most important approach to physical-therapy treatment is looking at the body with these three aspects in mind. If you just treat the body, but do not look at the soul, consisting of the mind, will and emotions, then the whole person is not being treated. For 25 years, our approach at Physical Therapy Services of Rhode Island is to assess each individual, on a one-on-one basis. Treatment is essentially a reflection of not our goals, but the goals of the patient.
PBN: What made you choose to become a clinical instructor for URI?
NOONAN: There’s no greater opportunity than to assist students in becoming better clinicians, which will in turn affect multitudes of people. I love working with students because they are enthusiastic, open and pliable, and highly absorbent of information and it’s exciting to see them succeed. What I love about practicing is that I can help educate people so they know how to take care of themselves.
PBN: Could you describe your relationship with patient-turned-colleague, Timothy Haitz?
NOONAN: If you looked at Timothy 15 years ago you’d see a fourth-generation fisherman with back problems, trying to find his way in life. As I’d come to learn through treating Haitz, he was no ordinary patient. He was hit by a car at the age of 13, didn’t walk for a year, had no ACL and had one leg an inch shorter than the other. But as our relationship grew, so did Tim’s strength and willingness to succeed. He decided to go back to college – the first in his family to do so, completed his undergrad in three years, and applied to the physical-therapy graduate program at URI. Tim graduated this past May and he recently passed his national exam so he will be coming to work as a physical therapist at our practice. Haitz has also honed in on his love for biking and has been a nationally ranked cyclist. This is just one example of how physical therapy works to treat and care for an individual on multiple levels. •