Albert Einstein said, “Life is like riding a bicycle. To keep your balance, you must keep moving.”
World Series Winning PT Regan Wong, DPT, OCS, SCS, MTC, CSCS, Cert. DN, USAHS ’08, is living this reality. As a Major League Physical Therapist for the Texas Rangers Baseball Club, cyclist, and self-proclaimed movement enthusiast, he has become an expert in the human body’s potential. His lifelong pursuit of movement and a steadfast commitment to helping others regain freedom of motion are part of his rhythm.
The Texas Rangers won the 2023 World Series, the organization’s first-ever title. Dr. Wong is thrilled to see the Texas Rangers clinch victory.
In his youth in upstate New York, Dr. Wong was an athlete. “I pursued every sport underneath the sun – baseball, football, soccer, lacrosse, cycling, gymnastics – you name it.”
He focused on competitive swimming – from the time he was 12 years old and through college. His dedication to the sport sparked his love for health and fitness and weight training to improve athletic performance.
However, in his junior year of high school, he sustained an injury and was referred to a physical therapist. This experience opened his eyes to the profession. “I was intrigued that the clinic focused on sports medicine,” he said.
As a senior in high school, he decided to pursue a career in physical therapy (PT).
The path to the major league
Dr. Wong gained well-rounded experience to help prepare him for the future.
In 2001, while earning his undergraduate degree and Master of Science in Physical Therapy from Ithaca College, he completed his final internship. He gained exposure to Division 1 athletics sports medicine through his work with Marty Huegel, PT, MEd, former Director of Rehabilitation for the University of Florida (UF) Athletics. “I learned a ton, and that opportunity was pivotal to my future success,” said Dr. Wong.
He worked at the University of Rochester Sports Medicine clinic and then assumed a position at a private PT practice in Florida. There, he trained to become a clinical director. Dr. Wong expanded his clinical expertise, worked with patients with diverse needs and discovered the importance of developing key relationships. “I learned how to market myself to area physicians, run a startup private practice clinic, and treat myriad conditions ranging from chronic pain and wound care to occupational medicine and more.”
Education to elevate your career
Early in his career, Dr. Wong was strong at extremity rehabilitation but not as confident in treating spine injuries. He decided to address that weakness by continuing his education at the University of St. Augustine for Health Sciences (USAHS). Dr. Wong completed a three-day course focused on basic assessment and examination of spinal patients. After two years of study, he took the remaining spinal and extremity therapy courses and earned his Manual Therapy Certification (MTC) in 2005.
At that time, the profession was moving toward graduates having a Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT), and USAHS had a transitional DPT program with an orthopedic manual therapy specialization.
“This program provided a great foundation for me and allowed me to obtain my degree while still working full-time,” he said.
“You need excellent manual therapy skills to work in professional sports medicine. A PT’s ability to use their hands and work with minimal equipment is important when you travel to other ballparks. You also need to develop the ability to evaluate athletes – how their muscles and joints are doing and how they move to make a quick impact. It bodes well to help the athlete to feel, move and perform better,” he said.
Dr. Wong also appreciated the flexibility of USAHS programs and the balance of on-campus practice and online coursework. “This allowed me to continue to work as a clinician and transfer what I learned to a real-world clinical setting.”
Staying the course for continuous improvement
Dr. Wong believes in forward-thinking growth. “Look at what you can do to improve yourself each year and never settle for mediocrity – whether it be in your clinical expertise, leadership, business marketing and beyond,” he said.
It’s important to him to stay abreast of current rehabilitation and trends, improve his manual therapy skill set and learn new treatment philosophies. He also values interdisciplinary collaboration – with athletic trainers, chiropractors, skilled position coaches, massage therapists, etc.
“In professional sports, it’s critical that you work well with a team and understand their unique skill sets. You work together with the same end goal – helping the athlete perform at the highest level.”
Dr. Wong has collaborated with fellow clinicians and contributed to industry research on topics including pitching biomechanics – in publications like the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research. He was also a guest on The Performance Rehabilitation and Strength Training podcast to discuss the fundamentals of dynamic neuromuscular stabilization and its integration into the major league baseball clinical setting.
Landing a dream role with the Texas Rangers
Dr. Wong’s early connection with Keith Meister, MD, forged during his time at the University of Florida, proved transformative. Meister became the head team physician for the Texas Rangers and recruited Dr. Wong to work with team athletes.
For several years, Dr. Wong worked as a consultant to the team and developed relationships with Ranger athletic trainers Jamie Reed, ATC, Kevin Harmon, ATC, and Matt Lucero, ATC. Then, in December 2018, his current position opened up. “Little did I know that a successful internship would lead to my role today. I’m proof that building key relationships and obtaining positive clinical outcomes can open doors that may lead to grand opportunities,” he said.
He has become a full-time part of the team fabric – from offseason training to performance programs to regular travel.
Dr. Wong said helping an athlete return from major surgery to the field is a win. “After nine to twelve months of rehabilitation, there is no greater satisfaction than watching them reclaim their livelihood.”
Dr. Wong credits his wife, Kelly, for supporting his career, a job that entails long hours and frequent travel. “Her support and a strong foundation at home has allowed me to pursue my dreams,” he said.
The Texas Rangers have a new ballpark, and he said it’s been exciting to see the stadium at capacity, filled with fans.
Congratulations to Dr. Wong and the entire team on a home run!