Manual therapists spread coverage in Chattanooga area

Manual therapists spread coverage in Chattanooga area

November 19th, 2010 by Brittany Cofer in Business Around the Region

Staff Photo by Laura-Chase McGehee/Chattanooga Times Free Press/ Results Physiotherapy physical therapist David Brackett, left, performs occupational therapy exercises and releases with Merrit Potter who suffers from immobility in his neck an shoulders from working as a barber for 40 years.

Looking inside Results Physiotherapy's newest Chattanooga location on the North Shore, the first thing that stands out is a lack of prominent exercise equipment.

But the sparse physical therapy room looks that way for a reason, said Jeremy Shook, regional director for the Nashville-based company.

"Our biggest tool is our hands," he said. "In general we don't have a lot of equipment because we focus on a functional approach."

Functional exercises are different from the weight bearing exercises that typically are used when rehabilitating an injury, focusing instead on the biomechanics of getting the affected area back to normal, he said.

In the past two years, Results Physiotherapy has made a push to bring its manual therapy style to the Chattanooga area, a move made because Shook said the region "needed a quality choice." The first location here opened in Hixson in 2008, followed by one on Gunbarrel Road early this year and its newest location on the North Shore this summer.

The company operates about 30 clinics in the state, with a heavy presence in Middle Tennessee, said John Nelson, vice president of marketing.

"With physical therapy, the important thing is to have a distribution network," he said. "We don't need clinics on every corner, but people need to have places that are accessible."

Nelson said the addition of the North Shore clinic expands the company's coverage of the downtown, Red Bank and Signal Mountain regions -- areas that weren't being covered by the other two locations. Results Physiotherapy plans to continue to grow its presence in the area, looking at areas such as North Georgia, Ooltewah or Cleveland for its next location, Shook said.

Despite high unemployment and rising health care costs, Nelson said the company has been able to grow in patient visits by 25 percent in the last year because of "relentless investment" in its services.

David Brackett, lead physical therapist at the North Shore location, said that investment is the reason he left his former job to join Results Physiotherapy. He said the hands-on training he's received and the differences he can see in patients because of the manual approach have made the decision worthwhile.

"The patients are able to relax, and eventually to move better," he said. "Then they're more receptive to exercise programs and make greater strides."

Also in the past two years, physical therapy has been granted direct access, which means patients can now see a physical therapist without a physician's referral.

"That's relatively new for Tennessee and is a move that was made because of the need to improve costs," Nelson said. "That's one of the things that's bringing us growth when in difficult economic times."