Thrive by IU Health

October 06, 2021

Physical therapist – Light on her feet and qualified to treat

Physical therapist – Light on her feet and qualified to treat

First she was a ballerina. Now Carrie Gaerte works as a physical therapist, assisting other performers in need of rehabilitation.

By IU Health Senior Journalist, T.J. Banes, tfender1@iuhealth.org

She started ballet at the age of three. Her mother was a ballet instructor and Carrie Gaerte’s talent continued into high school.

A native of Pensacola, she performed in a number of school productions and also graced the stage as a corps dancer with the Northwest Florida Ballet.

“I’ve done every role in the nutcracker except the sugar plum fairy,” said Gaerte. In addition to The Nutcracker, Gaerte danced in mixed repertory and story ballets at various outdoor festivals and summer shows.

Practice, persistence, and passion paid off.

Gaerte earned a scholarship to Indiana University to further her studies with the dance department of the prestigious Jacobs School of Music. It was during her sophomore year in Bloomington that an injury changed Gaerte’s career track.

A dislocated patella – the bone at the front of the knee - resulted in a long recovery.

“On one hand, I couldn’t dance. On the other hand, it gave me a lot of time to see the medical side of things and sparked my interest in pursuing other options,” said Gaerte. She switched her major and earned both undergraduate and graduate degrees in athletic training. As part of her master’s studies, she served as a graduate assistant athletic trainer and was assigned to the ballet department.

“I knew all the instructors and it was very rewarding,” said Gaerte. But after graduating and working as an athletic trainer she felt she wasn’t where she needed to be. Gaerte enrolled at UIndy and obtained her Doctorate in Physical Therapy and began working in the field in 2012.

This month is Physical Therapy Month, a time to celebrate the specialty areas of IU Health’s team of therapists. Gaerte joined IU Health four months ago, bringing with her experience in the area of performance injuries and care. She has assisted local dance companies including Butler University Ballet and Dance Kaleidoscope with screening and recovery of injuries.

Gaerte’s specialization will be further utilized as IU Health prepares to open a new Performing Arts Program in Rehabilitation Services.

“We have assembled a talented and expert team of therapists to work with dancers, gymnasts, cheerleaders and other performing artists and athletes,” said Josh Pintar, IU Health Manager of Physical Therapy and Rehabilitation. The services will be offered in multiple locations, including an on-site dance studio. A new artistry clinic is set to open in November and will include special dance flooring, barres, and mirrors.

Gaerte looks at this phase of her career as a win-win.

“I seldom dance but I love to watch local performances when I can,” said Gaerte. “For me, the physical therapy that I’m doing is a perfect fit. It combines movement, being with people, and the creative component to exercise prescription. The dancers are so gracious and thankful for all the information and assistance. I think I hit the jackpot.”

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