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Business

Atlantic Physical Therapy puts recovery first

5/11/12 | By Tony Russo

BERLIN — There are two essential parts to rehabilitation: having the initial therapy and strengthening the afflicted area to prevent relapse and improve overall health. The difficulty for many patients is that after insurance pays for the therapy, the insured is often left to their own devices for the continued, if necessary work.

The disconnect between therapies covered by insurance and the real healing work that ought to continue afterwards never made a lot of sense to Bobby Hammond, who owns Atlantic Physical Therapy and Sports Medicine in the Pines Plaza. But as the owner of Atlantic Health and Fitness, the gym adjoining the therapy office, he was in a unique position to do something about it.

He began adding an additional month of access to the gym at no extra charge once patients finished their therapeutic course. As a result, not only have patients' physical therapy improvements been longer-lasting and more stable, but many have elected to stay on beyond the month to continue improving their health.

“I thought it was a brilliant idea to offer it to our patients,” Hammond said. “They still have the staff here if they have any questions.”

The patient experience is unique at Atlantic Physical Therapy and Sports Medicine because the therapists are able to look beyond the initial recovery and into their patients’ future needs. The professional staff on both sides of the wall — the therapy facility and the gym — are able to do the kinds of treatments with patients that just aren’t possible in a stand-alone therapy facility.

Therapist Charles Curran, PT, explained that he can develop a regimen based on improving a patient's long-term recovery and then have the advantage of being able to see it though as the patient returns for their workouts once their insurance-covered therapy runs out.

As an example he demonstrated a resistance band exercise common to people recovering from joint injuries or replacements. Curran then walked over to the gym side and demonstrated how the exercise could be repeated on the “Functional Trainer” a weight machine with an open plan.

Curran said the machine was designed so that virtually any regimen could be accommodated by it. 

“I know this machine can be set to do well over 100 different exercises,” he said. “I can figure out what’s best in relation to the injury.”

Curran and the rest of the staff work closely with area doctors so they know which doctors prefer which courses of treatments then tailor the follow-up exercise program.

“Certain injuries have certain protocols for what you have to follow,” he said.

Curran works closely with one of the company’s newest employees, Michael Hedlesky, MS, CSCS, USAW, WBB, a strength performance expert, to find the best course of transition for patients as they go from the therapy office to the gym.

As the patients get stronger they are encouraged to begin working out in the gym. Once their therapy is over, they are already comfortable with the regimen, the facility and the personnel. Since the free month in the gym isn’t covered by insurance there is no deductible either. It is just an ounce of prevention that Hammond feels better benefits the patients.

“You still have the staff here if you have questions” Hammond said of the patients in transition. “The insurance companies love me but I don’t do it for them, I do it for the patients.”

While the program is specific to the office, it is not the only thing that sets Atlantic Physical Therapy and Sports Medicine and the Atlantic Health and Fitness Center apart. 

Sally Hawkins, OTR/L,CLT is one of about 5,000 people in the world certified as a hand-specialist for physical therapy. Only about half of the people who attempt to attain the certification pass the test but those who do have a particular insight into helping people deal with the debilitating implications of arthritis or learning to adjust after a stroke.

“It’s about improving range of motion,” she said. “But it’s also about new tactics for energy conservation.”

As an example, she said that a person who has strength issues in their hands might consider sliding a pot along the counter rather than picking it up and taking it across the kitchen. The point of the therapy is for patients to learn to make their own accommodations in order that their recovery is more complete and their lives aren’t too drastically altered during their readjustment period.

Another of the tactics and therapies that sets Atlantic Physical Therapy and Sports Medicine apart is their endless lap pool. For the uninitiated, an endless lap pool is like a treadmill for swimmers. A fabricated current can be turned up or down to allow a person as much or little resistance as needed.

While the pool is an excellent way to do laps in an small space, the pool’s primary use is for physical therapy. Hammond said that it is as effective for people learning to restore their balance as well as for those in injury or surgery recovery.

“It’s much easier for patients to do the exercises in the pool,” Hammond said. 

Atlantic Physical Therapy and Sports Medicine has a strict policy that only one therapy session can take place in the pool at a time so to assure that each patient gets the maximum benefit and attention.

To find out more about Atlantic Physical Therapy and Sports Medicine’s free month plan or about Atlantic Health and Fitness general memberships visit http://www.atlanticptrehab.com/berlin.

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