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Feb 09, 2024

Sarah Spilman, Rock Valley’s Kala Frederiksen combine efforts to solve migraine mystery 

Sarah Spilman had suffered from migraines since her college days. 

Medication had been used to ease her symptoms, but she – and others along the way – had been unable to reach the root of her issue and find a way to end her suffering. 

Enter Kala Frederiksen, PT, DPT, an outgoing, ever-compassionate therapist, who doubles as the clinic manager at Rock Valley Physical Therapy’s Grimes, Iowa-based clinic. 

Right person. Right place. Right time. 

Today, through hard work, great knowledge and a decisive and dedicated approach to combating a childhood health-related issue, life – for the better – has changed for the ever-upbeat Spilman. 

Frederiksen, recommended by Spilman’s dental team, was the first healthcare provider to accurately identify the root cause of her migraines as related to scoliosis diagnosed in childhood. 

“While it now seems obvious, Kala spent months working with me to strengthen the muscles between my shoulder blades (where Spilman’s scoliosis curve is) to reduce the strain on my neck and mitigate the cause of my headaches,’’ Spilman said.  

“I’ve seen many specialists and tried many things, but until now nothing has led to long-term, sustainable improvement in my migraines,’’ Spilman added. “When I started with Kala, I was experiencing four migraines a week and feeling pretty miserable, but I was also motivated to find a long-term solution and was committed to putting in all the necessary time and effort needed to make improvement.’’ 

Spilman, it must be noted, is a wonderful example of hard work and determination paying off. 

For Frederiksen, the plan to better Spilman’s life was a four-stage process. The two would work diligently to find her immediate relief and educate Spilman on the merits of great posture and ways to strengthen areas affected. There would also be a concerted effort to integrate new knowledge and strength back into all normal and desired activities. 

Great plan. Even better execution. 

“Sarah’s daily/weekly headaches are almost gone,’’ Frederiksen said of the amazing strides Spilman has made. “When she does have a headache, she has the tools to help her have relief. She is extremely dedicated to the long-term outcome and is diligent with her exercise (at) home program.’’ 

Frederiksen admits treating patients that suffer with headaches is always a challenge, but there is excitement in working hard to find a solution. And there is tremendous satisfaction when a plan to better someone’s life comes together. 

“Typically, someone struggling daily is greatly affected and they want to feel better quickly,’’ said Frederiksen, a Pocahontas, Iowa, native, who earned her undergraduate degree from St. Ambrose University and her Doctor of Physical Therapy degree from Des Moines University. “Manual therapy and dry needling usually help offer immediate relief, but the key is the education and the tools/strength for long-term success.’’ 

Working with someone dedicated, engaged, diligent and motivated is the great equalizer in bettering someone’s life. Frederiksen heaped a heavy helping of praise on Spilman for her tremendous desire and effort to get better. 

“Sarah is the perfect patient, engaged, motivated, asks great questions, diligent with her home exercise program and excited about her overall long-term health,’’ Frederiksen said. 

 “She has shared her story with me about seeing multiple healthcare professionals that wanted to help solve her problem with medication,’’ Frederiksen added. “She didn’t give up seeking a different route to solve the problem. It’s been a joy watching her get relief from years of missing out on family trips, outings, and activities due to having a headache.’’ 

Spilman spoke glowingly of Frederiksen’s ability on many fronts. 

“Kala is so smart and so observant; she has a solution for every single complaint or symptom and understands all the small steps that are needed to make real progress,’ said Spilman, 47, and a healthcare consultant. “She is also funny, relatable, and easy to talk to. While I would gladly come to see her every week, she shares my goal of getting my body strong and healthy so I can graduate from regular therapy and live a full life without debilitating headaches. Working with Kala has been life-changing and I’m so grateful to work with her.’’ 

By: Johnny Marx, Rock Valley Storyteller