Pediatric Physical Therapist, Melissa Dupree, DPT Joins Ayrsley Town Rehabilitation (ATR)

Nov. 11, 2014 – CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Melissa Dupree, DPT has joined Ayrsley Town Rehabilitation bringing extensive experience in pediatrics, orthopedic physical therapy and yoga to the company.

“Adding Melissa brings a tremendous amount of clinical experience to our team. Her versatile background in pediatrics allows our company to help with what we feel is an underserved pediatric in Southwest Charlotte,” said Chris Stulginsky, PT of Ayrsley Town Rehabilitation.

Melissa was born and raised in Long Island, New York and studied physical therapy at New York Institute of Technology in Old Westbury, NY.

After graduating, Melissa was hired by the company in which she performed her final clinical residency. During her 6 years with The Hagedorn Little Village School, in Seaford, NY she developed her pediatric versatility in pediatric home care, outpatient clinic work service, and treating in the local schools.

Melissa’s caseload ranged in age, treating children from 2 through 11 years, with a variety of diagnoses and ailments.  During this time, Melissa spent significant post graduate study in general pediatrics, with specific focus on autism, torticollis, and pediatric orthotics.  During that time, Melissa maintained a part time job in adult orthopedics at Dynamic Core Physical Therapy in New York.

Wanting to place all her focus in pediatrics, Melissa became full time in July 2009 at a developmental school in New York.  In 2010, she received her Early Intervention Certification through the State of New York and began doing home care treatment focusing on a toddler population.

Wanting to further her knowledge of exercise and its beneficial effect, Melissa pursued and received her yoga certification through YogaFit in 2013. She has already implemented yoga principles into her pediatric and adult treatment plans at ATR.

Having always loved Charlotte, Melissa and her husband felt it would be a wonderful place to raise a family. They recently they moved to Charlotte with their adorable son Michael (born 2014).

In addition to treating both the pediatric and adult population at ATR’s main office in Steele Creek, Melissa is coordinating the new pediatric PT services for ATR in partnership with Achieve Therapy Services in Southeast Charlotte.

How to Combat Neck and Back Pain Due to “iPosture”


Recently, Chris Stulginsky, was asked to comment on “iPosture”, an epidemic plaguing young people causing severe neck and back pain as the result of being hunched over mobile devices for extended periods of time. Below is a copy of the article that original appeared on Charlotte News 14:

More young people suffering back, neck pain from phone use
By: Caroline Vandergriff

CHARLOTTE — An epidemic known as “iPosture” is causing severe back and neck pain as people spend more time on mobile devices. The position is a result of looking down at a cell phone or tablet with the neck bent and the shoulders slumped over. “When somebody is holding something in front of you, you start to curl to curl your shoulders over,” said physical therapist Christopher Stulginksy of Ayrsley Town Rehabilitation. “They start to look down, specifically at their mobile devices, and it puts a lot of stress on the muscles in the back.”

Stulginsky said that type of stress overworks the muscles and creates pain.

A recent study by UK health provider SimplyHealth shows 84 percent of 18 to 24 year olds reported suffering back or neck pain in the past year. That same study finds someone in that age group spends almost nine hours a day in front of some of screen. “Think about the percentage of the day that you’re in that posture,” said Stulginsky. “So, OK, what can we change? It’s not realistic to stop using those devices, but you can change the posture, and that’s where you can mitigate the problems you have long term.” Stulginsky suggested setting an alarm on a phone for every 15 minutes as a reminder to check posture or change your position. “Put it on vibrate so it doesn’t disturb people around you, and when that goes off, in your pocket or on your desk, just momentarily change the posture,” Stulginsky said. “It will mitigate the force that you’re putting for the position you’re in all day.”

Grandparents’ advice to stand straight and sit up tall really will help alleviate problems as well, along with a healthy lifestyle and regular exercise.

Core Stabilization Exercise – The Vomit Cat

Crunches alone won’t make your core more stable. The lesser known transverse abdominis muscle is just as important, but often over looked. Chris Stulginsky of Ayrlsey Town Rehabilitation shows an easy exercise, humorously nicknamed the Vomit Cat, which works the transverse abdominis.

Ayrsley Town Rehabilitation (ATR) provides performance-enhancing, preventative and rehabilitative programs and services that maximize functionality and promote well-being in patients of all ages and abilities.

Physical Therapy and One Very Special 8-Year Old Patient

Every profession has high-lights and low-lights, Physical Therapy is no different and often, the two extremes get blended together in many cases. I’ve asked one of our Physical Therapists, Aurora D. Smith, to tell you about one of those patients who makes us love what we do each day. Here is her story:

As a Physical Therapist, I see many patients that inspire me to continue to learn more about my profession and myself as an individual. I have treated a variety of medical diagnoses over the span of more than 10 years in this field. Recently, I have had the pleasure of getting to know an amazing young girl that has a beautiful spirit. She makes me think of butterflies… Her name is Paulina and she has gracefully dealt with issues that would be difficult for a “well adjusted” adult to handle well. Paulina is 8 years old.

On October 10, 2012, Paulina was diagnosed with a brain tumor. It took approximately one year from the time that her optometrist recommended an MRI because the doctor felt that there was an issue of vein diameter during a routine examination. They were smaller than normal. So it began… for Paulina, Rosa, her mother, and grandmother in tow (she is at every physical therapy appointment). Eventually it was confirmed. She had a tumor approximately the size of a golf ball sitting on the pituitary gland. By the end of October, she had a port and then underwent chemotherapy in November.

Rosa, Paulina’s mother, states that they are a close knit family and the entire extended group was brought together in this time of need on the eve that her parents received this life changing diagnosis. Her mother was understandably feeling “helpless” without a clue of what to do next. “I wanted to take it away from her,” she states when asked about her feelings that day. It has been a strain on the family unit in many ways, but her mother says, “we just kept God first and Paulina always had a good attitude and rarely complained.” I know that to be true – when we have sessions together, she will ask in a chipper voice: “what’s next!? How many?” and that alone puts a smile on my face. She truly is a treasure!

At present time, Paulina’s cancer is in remission. While there is uncertainty, this family and this very special little girl have decided to live life to the fullest. But who of us does not live uncertain of what the future holds? When I see her smile, it makes a lot of sense to me that we embrace the moments that we have and all of the golden nuggets along the way. She is an example of what makes my profession incredibly worthwhile.

Aurora D. Smith, PT, MS
Physical Therapist


I am Aurora D. Smith, PT, MS originally from Columbia, SC. I am a graduate of Wake Forest University with a bachelor’s degree in Health and Exercise Science. At Wake Forest University, I had the opportunity to continue my dance studies while pursuing academic interests, and was subsequently was offered the opportunity to dance professionally with the Charleston Ballet Theatre upon graduation. I enjoyed a brief yet fulfilling career as a professional ballet dancer for 2 years prior to attending the Medical University of South Carolina to pursue a career in Physical Therapy.

Having a love of science and movement, it was the perfect fit for me! I graduated in 2002 with a Master’s in Rehabilitation Science and began my career working in an outpatient clinic located in Sumter. SC. Since that time, I have worked in a variety of settings and have extensive experience with ergonomics, work hardening, work conditioning and performing functional capacity evaluations. I have furthered my education with several manual therapy courses through the University of St. Augustine. In my spare time, I enjoy reading, visiting museums and travel to interesting and exotic places!

Back to School: Load your Child’s Backpack Properly

It’s back to school time, but that doesn’t have to mean a literal pain in the back for your child.

Chris Stulginsky of Ayrsley Town Rehab shares tips on how to load a backpack to increase comfort and help prevent injury.

Ayrsley Town Rehabilitation (ATR) provides performance-enhancing, preventative and rehabilitative programs and services that maximize functionality and promote well-being in patients of all ages and abilities.

Knee Pain Doesn’t Always Mean Surgery

As discussed in the video, chronic knee pain doesn’t always mean surgery. Our patient, Rosa Underwood’s* experience demonstrates how physical therapy helped resolve her chronic knee pain, even though she had been advised that surgery was her only option.

Patient Spotlight: Rosa Underwood*

The Issue: I had severe knee pain, constant arthritis pain in my right knee that was affecting my quality of life. The limited mobility affected my ability to shop, play with my grandchildren, garden, enjoy myself in general. I was fearful of being stigmatized professionally because of my limping and the possibility of not working due to needing knee surgery. I was miserable.

How was your physical therapy treatment? The physical therapy felt immediately empowering! I felt that I had an active role in getting better and the better I understood how muscles functioned the more I realized I was not helpless, that a lot of my pain was due to extra stress being put on my knee because of how I moved at many joints and that my knee was not going to crack in half.

The moment things changed: Chris found that I was compensating by clenching my jaw, he treated that and my knee pain decreased significantly. I thought, “What just happened?” My knee pain was decreased significantly, and I was able to garden that weekend kneeling with very little pain, I have not been able to do that in months.

The difference over the past few weeks is incredible… I am walking longer, my attitude is hopeful, I don’t describe my pain as severe…I play with my grandchildren and enjoy myself again. I have not worn a knee brace or wrapped my knee since. My doctor is pleased with my progress and so am I! The ATR team is truly outstanding!

The Therapist’s take: Rosa had significant movement restrictions in her knee, ankle, and hip which piled on top an existing arthritic condition. Her Gluteal muscles were not firing much, and her knee was not able to get straight. It is a common compensation pattern, inhibited gluts put more pressure on the muscles that surround the knee. We tested her glut, it was strong, but she was clenching her jaw. Retesting with a relaxed jaw decreased the glut strength drastically. Palpation revealed increased tenderness at her right masseter, and quick, patient-directed release resulted in the gluteal muscles firing again so they tested strong with a relaxed jaw. With the gluts back on line, it took pressure off of the knee and the patient’s squat test improved dramatically. This is a great example of how the pain is rarely problem, it is the symptom of dysfunction. This is why we examine and treat function, treating structure alone without addressing function rarely leads to long term success.

*Use of quotations and names are with permission of patient

ATR Thoracic Spine Stretch for Golfers

Chris Stulginsky of Ayrsley Town Rehab in Charlotte, NC demonstrates a quick & effective stretch for the thoracic (middle) spine to improve mobility for golfers.

Chris is certified by Titleist Performance Institute and can help you take your golf game to the next level!

Ayrsley Town Rehabilitation (ATR) provides performance-enhancing, preventative and rehabilitative programs and services that maximize functionality and promote well-being in patients of all ages and abilities.