HEALTH CARE: Getting physical – Former Munson employee launches physical therapy clinic

TRAVERSE CITY – When David Rapson opened Northwoods Physical Therapy last month at Grand Traverse Crossing, he knew his waiting room would be empty.

But not from lack of patients. Rather, because those who brought in patients could slip next door to Eastern Mountain Sports, Borders Books and Music or bring their shopping list for Wal-mart. The result? The perfect location for taking care of your health and business.

“People like the retail setting,” said Rapson, PT, SCS, ATC (physical therapist, sports certified specialist and athletic trainer). “The concept is different. They can get therapy and run errands in the same trip.”

Rapson, the only board-certified sports physical therapist in Traverse City, recently left Munson Medical Center after eight years as Sports Medicine Coordinator to open the clinic. He has formed a partnership with U.S. Physical Therapy, which owns 90 clinics in the United States.

Rehabilitative services are offered not only for injured athletes, but for occupational injuries and over-zealous individuals, as well.

“Although my background is in sports, if your brother falls at work and hurts his knee, it’s not really that different,” Rapson said. “It’s the aggressiveness of how to approach therapy that changes.”

Athletes tend to push themselves in their thirst for getting back in the game, he said, while employers and employees concentrate more on thorough and safe recovery periods.

Each patient has a custom-designed therapy program, typically three to four weeks long, two to three times a week. But Rapson emphasizes to patients that their work at the clinic is a supplement to their home treatments.

“People are starting to take a more active role in the quality of their health care,” he said. “We need to start asking questions and taking responsibility for our health care.”

Rapson sees an increase in consumers seeking alternative health care.

“As we try to contain costs in health care, we’ll see more emphasis on rehabilitation and physical therapy as an alternative to other costly diagnostic and surgical procedures,” he said.

But the biggest change in the industry will come with time. As baby boomers age, their health care needs will increase along with their rehabilitation needs.

“The public is generally not aware of the scope of physical therapy today,” Rapson said, who hopes to meet the needs of each patient that comes through his door–even if they are on their way to Toys ‘R Us. BIZNEWS