When most kids suffer an athletic injury that requires intense physical rehabilitation, their first thought is usually, “There goes my career.” When Integrated Health Sciences Alumnus of the Year Edwin Suarez endured such an injury, one of his first thoughts was, “This could be my career!”
“I was a junior in high school when I threw out my arm playing baseball, resulting in rotator-cuff tendinitis,” Suarez said. “It was during that rehabilitation experience that my interest in physical therapy first began.”
Suarez relocated with his parents from New York to Las Vegas in 1970 and went on to graduate from Las Vegas High School in 1988. He then moved west, eventually earning a degree in kinesiology with an emphasis in exercise science from California State University, Long Beach in 2000. Upon completing his undergraduate degree, Suarez returned to Las Vegas and earned his master’s in physical therapy from UNLV in 2002.
He then set about serving his hometown community through Suarez Physical Therapy, a practice he founded in 2005 with the goal of treating Southern Nevada’s adult orthopedic and underserved pediatric neurological patients with their physical therapy needs.
Today, those patients have easy access to three Edwin Suarez Care.Experience certified certified centers located in the southwest, southeast, and northwest part of the valley.
In addition to caring for his patients and staff, Suarez supports his hometown university as a UNLV Silver Medallion Society benefactor.
During the coronavirus pandemic, we’ve seen numerous examples of teamwork at its finest. In what ways did UNLV teach you about the value of teamwork?
While working toward my master’s at UNLV, our physical therapy department facilitated a project with the school’s engineering department that involved myself, a fellow PT student, and two engineering students. Together, we worked to design a portable continuous passive motion machine for a rehabilitation patient whose arm was paralyzed after suffering a stroke. The CPM not only helped our patent improve her arm’s stiffness and pain, but it allowed her to simultaneously go about her household chores, a commodity that was not afforded to her by her previous stationary CPM unit. It was an interesting project that allowed all of us to put into practice concepts we learned in our individual UNLV departments. Knowing that we as a team created something that improved the life of the recipient was quite gratifying.
What advice do you have for today’s UNLV students as they try to navigate our changed world?
Take it one day at a time and make the most out of every opportunity afforded to you — and whenever possible, afford similar opportunities to others. Remain open to change and be confident of your best judgment gleaned from your education, family values, and spiritual beliefs.