A setback doesn’t have to be a step back.
That’s the mantra often shared by former La Conner High and St. Martin’s University student-athlete Lynette Cram, now a much in demand physical therapist who serves as a trainer for Braves and Lady Braves sports teams.
Her story is a prime example.
It was a sports injury while at St. Martin’s that led to her present career as co-owner with husband David Cram of Balance Point Physical Therapy Clinic in La Conner.
“I got injured playing volleyball at St. Martin’s,” she recalls, “and they sent me to physical therapy and that’s how I got interested in it.”
The 1990 La Conner High grad already had a strong background in health sciences as a Biology/Pre-Med major at St. Martin’s. Her childhood in the athletic Bruffy household also played a role.
Almost from the beginning she was aware of what the human body can accomplish and its great recuperative powers.
“I remember,” she says, “when I was about four-years-old that my mom’s mom, my Grandma Steiner, had a stroke and afterward how I would count the laps she made around the kitchen table. That’s one of my earliest memories.”
After finishing her degree work at St. Martin’s, Cram graduated from the physical therapy department at the University of Washington’s School of Medicine.
She later completed doctoral studies at the College of St. Scholastica in Duluth, Minnesota.
“That was definitely a great experience,” says Cram.
As was her return home, where she had the good fortune to find a mentor here in Joan Cross, widely recognized for her expertise in pediatric neuro-developmental therapy.
Cross is a University of Michigan graduate who spent time in the Peace Corps before arriving in La Conner in the late 1970s. Her work includes being active locally in civic projects and social causes.
“She started Balance Point,” Cram says of Cross, whose daughter, Hannah, is now a physical therapist in Portland.
“Joan is well-known throughout the pediatric neuro-developmental world,” Cram says. “She’s been one of the go-to people in that field in the Pacific Northwest.”
Over the years, Cram has realized professional growth from assignments at Island Hospital in Anacortes and the Swinomish Indian Tribal Community.
A member of the La Conner School Board, Cram perhaps relishes most the opportunity to be the Braves’ and Lady Braves’ trainer. Her son, Charlie, and daughter, Rachel, are multi-sport athletes at La Conner High.
“I do as much as my kids will allow me to do,” she quips.
Cram regularly offers tips on how to improve athletic performance, and also renders aid and assesses injuries –for La Conner players and those from other schools that might not have a trainer.
“I really love what I do,” she said Wednesday, while attending the Skagit County Track-and-Field Championships at Whittaker Field. “I can maybe help a kid shave a couple seconds off their time or help someone be able to walk down the aisle of their grandkids’ wedding.”
Patients universally praise Cram’s ability to convey complex injury rehab concepts in simple language, citing her passion coupled with keen listening and communication skills.
Cram isn’t selfish. She encourages others to pursue positions in either physical therapy or athletic training.
“I would definitely advise young people to do it,” she says. “Physical therapy is very competitive, but it’s a growth field. The baby boomers are now reaching their orthopedic age, so the job market is really good.”
Yet the rewards are often intrinsic as well as tangible.
“What I like about physical therapy,” Cram adds, “is you can develop relationships. You don’t just see patients for a few minutes at a time at their annual physicals. In physical therapy, where you meet with patients more often, you can really see the quality of life improve for people of all ages.”