Physical Therapy & Rehab at Kaiser

Parent Q&A

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  • After an MRI showing some unfortunate stuff going on with my lower spine and causing nerve issues in my legs and feet, I've been referred to the Kaiser Oakland Department of Physical Medicine and Rehab, where I will be seeing Dr. Sheikh.  (1) Does anyone have experience with Dr. Sheikh, either at Kaiser or at Rossmoor (which is where the internet seems to think she works), and/or (2) any advice about working with the Physical Medicine and Rehab department for spine issues?  Since there doesn't seem to be any information available about Dr. Sheikh, does anyone have another doctor they'd like to recommend in this department, just in case I end up needing the information?  Thanks very much!  This is all new to me.


    I’m currently working with Dr. Sheikh. You’re in great hands. She’s very kind and empathetic, and will work really hard to make sure you get the care you need. She actually added an appointment to her calendar last week to see me in between procedures, to ensure I could get my next procedure scheduled. I wouldn’t look for anyone different. 

    the biggest advice I could give you about working with the PT department is to both be ready to practice patience, yet also make sure to advocate. What I’ve learned working with Kaiser specialties is that they are just so impacted. So there tends to be long waits for appointments and procedures. The procedure I scheduled last week is two months out. Though to be honest, my waits outside if Kaiser were similar. 

    Also, try not to be turned off with the staff you speak to to get things scheduled. Some have been downright rude, most sound curt (maybe they are busy), but a couple have been really nice. Don’t expect a call back if you leave a message, that’s hit or miss. Hmmm, what else?!? Oh, if you message Dr. Sheikh, she may take a day or two to respond. I was eager after a procedure a couple weeks ago, so hounded her a bit, and she was polite about it but I probably didn’t need to. Ask if physical therapy will be beneficial, and don’t accept virtual PT- it doesn’t help. 

    As a reference- I’ve been dealing with chronic neck pain for the last 3 or so years. My Sutter doctors found the spine narrowing and nerve issues about 2 years ago, but I had an insurance switch while waiting for the specialist appointment. Had to start all over- new MRI, specialist appointments, etc. I was referred to Physical Medicine last July, had my appt with Dr. Sheikh in August, had to reschedule my first neck procedure in October to January, and not the next (and hopefully longer term solution) one will be in April. My procedure was in Richmond, and that doctor was also great. 

    I think you’re in good hands. Good luck with everything! 


    I'm now going to answer my own question!  I recently had my appointment with Dr. Sheikh, and she was kind, knowledgeable, and very thorough.  So, thumbs-up!

  • Pelvic floor therapy at Kaiser

    (5 replies)

    I have a 1 year old, and after a very long labor, things still don’t feel quite the same. I’m thinking a pelvic floor therapist would be helpful. Does anyone have a recommendation for someone at Kaiser who specializes in these issues? Especially Kaiser Richmond? Thanks!

    The only person I’ve heard of through Kaiser is Rachel Gonsalves in Oakland. In my experience, you have to attend a group class before they will give you an individual appointment. I wasn’t able to attend the class because life is so unpredictable with a newborn so I haven’t gotten an appointment yet but my chiropractor recommended her and hopefully I will get in to work with her soon. 

    FYI that's not how PT referral works at Kaiser.  (You cannot just get a rec and call for an appt like with PPO insurance.)  There is a pelvic floor specialist (wait is 6-8 weeks when I was referred in fall, and there is just one PF specialist), and they are at Kaiser Oakland so you'll have to drive down from Richmond.  Your OB/GYN can refer you to PT - just make sure they write "pelvic floor specialist" so you get the right person.  The specialist can then work out a treatment plan.  If there's a medical reason you need care sooner or can't drive to Oakland you might be able to work the denial of service letter process to get a letter to go out-of-network but that is highly, highly unlikely.   Hope this helps.  (I work for KP so fairly well versed in policy there.)   I would recommend you make an appt with your OB/GYN in-person so they can do the pelvic exam and document the problem.  In my case - there were some other issues going on that needed to be resolved (from my 3 hrs of pushing!) and resolving those actually fixed the problem moreso than the PT!

    consider taking a workshop with Beth Z at léela yoya in alameda. she leads pelvic floor rehab classes and is great! and fun too!

    I had pelvic floor PT at Kaiser Oakland a couple of years ago, and they only had one pelvic PT. If Richmond has one, they're likely to only have one as well, or you may need to go to Oakland. Your gyn should be able to refer you, but you probably don't have to go in with a name since you probably won't have a choice of more than one provider.

    Three years ago I was referred to a pelvic specialist physical therapist by my gynecologist and she was great. She’s at Kaiser Richmond: Barbara Leivonen, PT Dept, 510-307-1551. Hope she’s still there. 

  • Kaiser Oakland Physical Therapist

    (1 reply)

    I would very much appreciate any recommendations for top notch physical therapists at the Oakland (Richmond is the second choice) Kaiser location. It would be great if the person would be especially familiar with hip issues as I have been recently diagnosed with arthritis there and need some therapy and exercises to help relieve the discomfort. Many thnaks.

    I have had great experiences at the Kaiser Oakland Physical Therapy offices with Wayne (can't recall last name) and Arlene Suda.  Both study your problem intensely and then design treatments and home exercises to alleviate pain and discomfort.  I have no idea if they are especially familiar with hips, but Arlene did treat me once for hip discomfort.  All gone now, as it was very shortly after she gave me a set of exercises.

  • Hi,

    Does anyone have experience with Kaiser PT to treat a lower back SI injury with sciatica, would like to hear your thoughts and any particular providers you would recommend?


    See if you can get in to the Physiatry Dept., also called "Physical Medicine."  This specialty deals non-surgically with orthopedic conditions, and the docs there seem to know more how physical therapy works.  The main problem I've found with KP PT is that they limit the number of sessions per diagnosis -- usually to about 5.  You can get good mileage out of this if you diligently do the prescribed exercises.  I have had good care from the physical therapist Arlene Suda at Oakland KP -- she knows what she is doing.  Also, it is good to know that Kaiser has recently expanded their acupuncture coverage.  If you want highly focused and knowledgeable care and can afford to go outside the system, Beacon Physical Therapy in downtown SF (easy BART ride) employs a highly effective technique that can actually bring more flexibility to the SI joint and ease structural anomalies.

    I saw several PTs (and doctors, and back specialists, and pain specialists) at Kaiser and some private pay, all for back pain related to my SI. None was a miracle worker, but I would recommend Jaime Hitteratchi at Kaiser Oakland. I made the most progress with her and she thinks more out of the box than other Kaiser practitioners. 

Parent Reviews

RE: Pediatric PT ()

We really liked the PTs we saw at Kaiser Oakland. Heather was great and from what I saw, the whole team was top notch too.