My approach to physical therapy is person-centered and evidence-informed. I listen to my clients and consider not only the nature of their symptoms, but also their concerns, lifestyle, preferences, and habits in order to find the treatments that will have the most impact. Partnering with my clients, we create a plan for both short-term relief of symptoms and long-term support of wellness.
I have found a mindful approach that engages awareness regarding symptoms assists in the process of determining triggers and the effectiveness of treatment strategies. Journaling, meditation, yoga, and or any mindful movement may be helpful toward this end, but I don't require anyone to use these particular mind-body tools. If your favorite way to focus your mind and move your body is gardening, cleaning, or sports, I simply ask my clients to take note of how they are feeling before, during, and after activity in order to determine if bodily sensations or symptoms are providing clues that will guide us to find what it is that your body is asking for-- and ultimately help you reclaim ease and joy in your favorite activities.
I have a variety of tools that I use to help my clients reach their goals. With my training in exercise science, Pilates and Yoga Therapy, I can adapt many forms of exercise, including yoga and Pilates to meet the needs of the individual. For example, Pilates, yoga, and many forms of exercise can be adapted by a trained professional so that:
- a person with a fracture can continue to exercise without bearing weight on the healing bone, keeping up bone density, strength and mobility in other areas.
- someone with orthostatic challenges (dizziness upon standing, dysautonomia/POTS) can appropriately challenge their heart and develop strength in a recumbent position, decreasing the adverse effects of orthostatic stress during exercise and improving their symptoms over time.
- a person with chronic pain or fatigue can move and pace themselves in ways that allow them to gain the many benefits of exercise (including better sleep, less depression/anxiety, and decreased pain and more energy over time) with guidance and decreased fear of flaring up symptoms.
- a person who is hypermobile can improve their sense of proprioception (where the body is in space) and learn to support and control excessive motion to reduce pain and risk of injury.
- someone who thought they would never again be able to garden, pick up their kids/grandkids, attend school, or go for a walk on a nice day can get there in small steps, with the right exercise program expertly chosen, paced, and progressed.
Manual (hands-on) therapy is large component of my Physical Therapy practice, and I am grateful to have training and expert mentoring in a variety of techniques, including joint mobilization/manipulation, soft tissue massage, trigger point release, myofascial release, nerve gliding, and dermoneuromodulation.
I offer PT services in-person, to individuals with medical diagnoses with a medical need for care. This generally makes PT eligible for insurance reimbursement, but each individual policy is unique. For more information, please call your insurance to learn more about your individual policy and contact the clinic where I offer PT services: Chicago Physical Therapists.
Direct Access to Physical Therapy in Illinois means that you can see a Physical Therapist first without getting a referral from a physician. However, some insurance companies require this step in order to cover PT charges, so please check your benefits.
If you are not able to see me in-person, but would like to set up a consult by phone or video session, please see more information about Consulting and Health Coaching.
Dr. Catherine Lewan is very knowledgeable about EDS/POTS, and is always furthering her education on the subject. This makes her a wonderful physical therapist and an excellent problem solver for patients like myself. She teaches me so much about being hypermobile, no other physician has been able to help me like she has. I am better able to manage my symptoms now. I am so thankful for Dr. Catherine.
Catherine has literally changed my life. I was very limited physically, dealing with chronic pain in multiple parts of my body– I felt stuck, lost, weak, and powerless. Catherine introduced me to pain science, which has opened the door for me to a completely new world– one in which I’m strong and capable, where I understand what is happening in my body and the amazing ways in which our bodies can change and adapt.
Catherine always listens to everything I have to say and works as a “detective” trying to find clues that will help inform my treatment and what my body needs. She has empowered me by giving me multiple sources of information to understand chronic pain and tools to self-manage my symptoms and be independent. She encourages me to work towards specific goals-which keeps me super motivated- and I love how she is very dedicated to making sure I achieve them.
Catherine is extremely smart, committed, and compassionate. I feel so very grateful I found her, and wish every person dealing with chronic pain had access to her gentle, wise, and empowering approach!
“Thank you so much for your incredible patience, kindness, and expertise. I know that I am in good hands.”
I was in a lot of pain with mobility issues. Catherine Lewan, DPT, was very understanding and made me feel comfortable about discussing all the ways that the pain was interfering with my daily activities. Cat employed several modalities to address my pain as well as muscle weaknesses (and areas of tightness!) that I hadn’t noticed before but to which my body was reacting. Cat provided me with options to consider regarding my plan of care and included my goals in each step of the treatment. She listened well and came up with a plan tailored to my needs. I now am more knowledgeable about my body and if my pain returns, I have some tools to use to try to address it. I know too that she is available in case my pain persists, and I need a re-evaluation. Working with Cat has convinced me that physical therapists can address the whole patient, not just a joint or limb that is in pain. Finally, Cat was always positive and encouraging. I could not have achieved my great results without her!
Kim– student PTA and experienced personal trainer and exercise instructor
Catherine tailors her classes to the needs of participants of all ages and conditions. She uses props to enhance each movement, and modifications that offer me the opportunity to take care of my body using weekly Pilates and Yoga group classes. I also see her in the clinic for treatment of my arthritis, and I have found her expertise, respect for the human body and her personal centeredness to be an extraordinary resource.
Catherine is a natural teacher. When I take her yoga class it is as if she is talking to me personally (even when the room is full). She is so in-tune with how the body works – or isn’t working. Catherine tells us to be gentle to our bodies. She eases us into the class with gentle pranayama and then takes us through asanas that always magically warm us up to the climax of the class (modified for different levels always). But this is where her Physical Therapy expertise shines through: Catherine knows the body so well. Her knowledge of the body as well as the anatomy of the pose means that you will experience asana in a new way, every time.
I worked with Catherine when I broke my collar bone. She treated me for the muscles and movement around the break, but also helped me recover areas of strength that I had neglected because I was protecting the area around my collar bone. She helped me discover that I wasn’t using my back muscles properly to carry my baby. Her method incorporated pilates, yoga asana and strengthening exercises in addition to manual therapy. I was very worried about returning to yoga and never thought I would be able to do down-dog again. She helped me feel confident in my body again.
As a 60-year-old, I want to keep my body strong and moving freely for many years to come. The core work I’ve done as a student in Cat’s class has changed my body, made me stronger, increased my body awareness, and reduced my back pain. She brings a sparkly energy and creative approach to every class, and always seems to find a great balance between work hard and feel good. When I needed to do a round of physical therapy, it was great to be able to see Cat, a highly trained and caring physical therapist that already knew my body, and could keep an eye on me in class once my PT was over.