Coming up on the physical therapy department’s second anniversary, the program has quickly expanded to provide another physical therapist to treat the CPN Health Service’s always growing roster of patients. The clinic recently relocated inside the FireLake Wellness Center to provide more space for their expanded staff and patients. Zachary Huff, a Choctaw Nation tribal member from Eufaula, Oklahoma is the newest face in the physical therapy room.
A graduate of Eufaula High School, Huff completed a degree in physical therapy from the University of Oklahoma after finishing his undergraduate studies in just three years. Following a transfer to the University of Oklahoma Health and Sciences Center in Oklahoma City, Huff completed his Doctorate of Physical Therapy.
Upon graduation from OUHSC, Huff joined the Cherokee Nation based in Tahlequah, Oklahoma as a staff physical therapist.
“In Tahlequah I had the chance to experience out-patient and in-patient settings,” said Huff. “From there I moved positions to a supervisory role at the Cherokee Nations Vinita Health Clinic.”
Huff’s work with the Cherokee Nation was an experience that led to his working relationship with current CPN Physical Therapy Supervisor James Bailey. Bailey, who was in the preliminary stages of developing CPN’s own program, reached out to Huff for insight on starting a physical therapy program from scratch.
“Since I helped build the program in Vinita he was looking to get some information on how we got it started,” said Huff. “I helped them get setup and taught them how it transitioned from a private practice to a tribal facility.”
Following CPN Health Services’ launch of its own PT program, Bailey and Huff kept in touch. When Huff he wanted a move closer to Oklahoma City, he reached out to Bailey to see if the CPN Clinic had any positions open.
“To my surprise they did and that’s how I got here,” said Huff.
A Board Certified Clinical Specialist in Orthopedic Physical Therapy, Huff, will be tasked day to day providing patient education and treatment to the many tribal members the program serves.
“Working in Native American settings my whole career, what I treat the most is people living a sedentary life,” explained Huff. “Our challenge is to get people out of this lifestyle. It has been a hard transition for some even if it’s adding just a small amount of extra-curricular activity.”
Instead of lecturing patients, Huff provides real world examples of exercises and activities to help break those sedentary habits, even if it’s as simple as getting up and doing something other than sitting.
“The more you stand the better off you’re going to be,” said Huff. “If most of your activities are in a bent position, change the position you are sitting as often as you can. The more variation and variety you move your body, the better off you are.”
Huff is married with a one year old daughter and spends most of his free time with family but does admit to taking work home.
“I do a lot of research and online study for physical therapy,” said Huff. “The Potawatomi tribe has been very welcoming and accommodating. I am very excited to work in this facility and it has been a great transition since I have started.”
The CPN Physical Therapy Clinic is open to any and all Tribal members that are currently being seen by CPN Health Services. Patients do not have to be Potawatomi and can be from any federally recognized tribe. If you would like to learn more about the CPN Physical Therapy Clinic or other CPN Health Services, please visit www.potawatomi.org/services/health or call 405-878-4693.