Episode 256 - Melissa Kolski, part 2: Creating Your Path


Melissa Kolski

Melissa Kolski received her Master’s in Science in Physical Therapy and Certificate in Health Care Administration from Widener University, her BA from the University of Notre Dame and is currently pursuing her clinical doctorate from Arizona University of Health Sciences.  She practices at the Shirley Ryan AbilityLab formerly known as the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago with 19 years of clinical experience and 12 years as an education program manager. She is a member of the US Soccer Federation’s Medical team and works with the United States Men’s Paralympic Soccer team for the last 2 years.  She is a board certified orthopedic clinical specialist and received her Diplomate in Mechanical Diagnosis and Treatment from the McKenzie Institute in 2011. She is a member of APTA and the Orthopedic section, a member of the Specialization Academy of Content Experts for Orthopedic Clinical Specialists in the American Board of Physical Therapy Specialties and abstract reviewer for the orthopedic section. Melissa is a Mentor, Board Member and Co-Director of the NU-SRALAB Orthopaedic Physical Therapy Residency Program and teaches in Northwestern University's PTHMS Clinical Management of Patients with Musculoskeletal Dysfunction course series. She has co-authored the recent 2015 book “A World of Hurt: A Guide to Classifying Pain” and published the recent 2014 Journal Article “Validation of a pain mechanism classification system (PMCS) in physical therapy practice”. Currently she is working on researching the outcomes associated with the musculoskeletal pain classification system discussed in clinical practice. Melissa is currently one of the educational program managers and responsible for AbilityLab curriculum development.  She is practicing clinically with an interest in spine care and treatment of patients with musculoskeletal pain.             

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In episode 256 we conclude our conversation with Ms Melissa Kolski, orthopedic clinical specialist, residency co-director, diplomat in MDT and co-author of a world of hurt. She shares more on the process of writing her book, mistakes she sees with her students, best advice and more. This week on MCF!

Show Notes

~ by Toshal Thanawala

Writing a Book

Melissa talks about how the book “A World of Hurt” came together. Initially it started with a committee to talk about chronic pain, which lead to a written manual and the eventual decision to convert it into a book. She talks about the research that was done, and the years it took the get the book together.

Mistakes most Clinicians make

Melissa feels that the most common mistakes that lead to less than optimal outcome is poor communication and our own cognitive biases. A solution for individually practicing and isolated clinicians is to videotape themselves    and re-watch and critique with a non-biased mind. 

Takeaways from the World of Hurt Book

Melissa feels that there are a lot of clinical pearls in the book, with some of the most important features being the communication tips, baseline activity tool, and the pain journal. She recommends to read the highlights and then go in depth of the topics that perk one’s interest.

Patient Example

Melissa talks about a patient case, in which the patient had manifestations of her pain which had both a physical and psychological component to it. Her symptoms significantly improved once the psychological component was addressed and managed. 

Words of Advice

Every struggle has a purpose and everything eventually turns out to be okay.

Don’t be afraid to fail and don’t be afraid to say yes to everything.

Keep your head down and keep plugging.

Helpful resources