Physical Therapy PT

| 20 July 2023

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Passion for Sports Drives USAHS Graduate’s MiLB Physical Therapy Career


Jonathan Pabon, PT, DPT, SCS, Cert. DN, has always had an unwavering passion for the game. Growing up near Atlanta, Georgia, he spent his free time playing and watching organized sports – ultimate frisbee, basketball and baseball. When it was time to choose a career path, Dr. Pabon let his love of people and sports fuel his profession.

“I’ve always been interested in human anatomy and helping others. It’s an honor to be a part of an athlete’s journey and to take them through the process of rehabilitation,” he said.

Pabon is a residency-trained physical therapist and currently serves as Assistant Minor League Physical Therapist at the Atlanta Braves.

He landed the role in Minor League Baseball (MiLB) in February 2023 and says it’s the realization of a lifelong goal. “It’s a dream come true – growing up in the community and getting to work with an organization that I followed and admired.”

He said he loves his daily practice. “It doesn’t feel like work. That’s something that not a lot of people get to say.”

Pabon focuses on both preventative therapy and post-injury treatment. He mainly sees athletes with shoulder injuries (rotator cuff and labrum), elbow challenges (ulnar collateral ligament sprains/post-Tommy John surgery), knee ligament sprains or tears and hamstring strains. 95% of his work is with long-term rehabilitation minor league players.

If an athlete requires more than two weeks of rehabilitation, they will likely be sent to the facility where Pabon works in North Port, Florida. “We [Pabon and another therapist] are in charge of rehabbing the players so they can get back on the field,” he explained.

What’s a day of rehab look like? The athletes arrive in the morning to warm up, then participate in PT activities and routine exercises. During baseball season, Pabon treats athletes six days a week. Spring training requires seven days of rehabilitation, while the offseason requires five.

The physical therapy team and athletes have exclusive access to innovative tools and equipment. “We have cutting-edge resources to provide optimal care to the athletes that we work with,” Pabon said.


USAHS PT alumn Jonathan Pabon, PT, DPT, SCS, Cert. DN

Pabon graduated with a Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) degree from the University of St. Augustine for Health Sciences (USAHS) in 2020.  When he was a freshman in college, he realized that he wanted to work in rehabilitation science.

He chose USAHS for its focus on hands-on practice and manual therapy. However, it was the relationships that he forged through the program that continue to influence his work.

“I connected with the faculty and staff at USAHS immediately and appreciate how the majority of instructors are also working in the field.”

He praised several of his professors for serving as mentors and encouraging him to become active in the community – through volunteering, 5K walk/runs and a weekly ultimate frisbee game at a local park.

“USAHS’ DPT program has a great personality – it may be a big cohort, but it doesn’t feel that way if you take the time to get to know each person on an individual basis,” Pabon said. To this day, he swaps stories and shares advice with his former classmates who also work in sports medicine.

Pabon frequently leverages the hands-on techniques that he learned at USAHS – including soft tissue and joint mobilization. “This skill set sets me apart from other physical therapists (PTs) – it’s very useful, especially when I work with athletes who are a part of a maintenance program.

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There’s never a dull moment in Pabon’s profession, and the Braves organization encourages its PTs to continue to learn. “I’m inspired to develop professionally through continuing education and networking opportunities,” he said.

His greatest opportunity is finding ways to make the rehabilitation program innovative and transformative.

“Meeting with players daily creates a positive challenge to build a program that’s personalized, progressive and appropriately stimulating,” he said.

Pabon adds value to the team through positivity and dedication. “I’m optimistic and hardworking. In pro sports you have to show up and give it your all every day.”

He is also bilingual and often serves as a translator for Spanish-speaking athletes. Pabon’s parents are from Puerto Rico. He spent his summers on the Caribbean island, speaking Spanish with his brother and grandparents.

Pabon encourages aspiring sports PTs to pursue any promising opportunities. “If you see a residency or fellowship that interests you, that’s a good start. Network and talk to people in the industry to get your name out there. If there’s a job opening, apply, even if you don’t think you’re the best candidate. Not applying is a definite no.”

He wants to be the best clinician that he can be in his field. “My role is to continue to expand my knowledge and keep current with evidence-based practice in sports rehabilitation and beyond. I’m committed to delivering state-of-the-art care to state-of-the-art players,” he said.

Perhaps someday he will pay it forward and seek an opportunity to teach future PTs. For now, it’s all a home run.

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