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Michele King

Physical and occupational therapist talks about running her physical therapy, balance center in Oswego

By Lou Sorendo

Q.: What motivated you to pursue a career in occupational therapy?

A.: I did the New Visions program at Oswego Hospital and initially wanted to go into surgery. However, I saw the hours that a surgeon had to put in, the on-call work, and it did not fit into the future picture of my life with a family

Q.: At what point in your career did you decide to be your own boss and run your own business?

A.: I always knew I wanted to own my own clinic someday and run my own business. But I had an epiphany one day when I was working for another company and I realized that their values did not line up with my values, goals and direction for the career I wanted.

Q.: You specialize in hand and stroke treatment. Why did you decide to specialize in these particular areas?

A.: Hand therapy is a specialization within the field of physical and occupational therapy. I was initially drawn to the challenge of post-operative hand therapy, tendon repairs, and the custom splint fabrications involved in patient care. I like a challenge and I really like working with post-surgical wounds, burns and complex surgeries. It is fun to be a part of the healing process for someone and incredibly rewarding when someone is able to use their hand again. The hand is so closely tied to function.

Q.: When did you launch your business? Can you give us a sense of what costs were associated with the launch?

A.: I started with Adirondack Therapy in 2006 in our Watertown location and by 2008 I had opened the Oswego location. In 2010, we expanded into our 2,100-sq.-ft. space at 127 E. First St. [in Oswego], and at that time I became a partner in the company. In 2017, my current business partners — physical therapist Jason Myers and occupational therapist Clark Wolf — joined the practice. In October of 2018, we made the decision to partner with FYZICAL Therapy & Balance Centers in order to bring specialized balance and vestibular services to the clinic as well as pelvic health. We recently completed our rebranding campaign.

Q.: What were some of the more challenging aspects of launching the business?

A.: The business was launched when I became a partner. However, we have gone through substantial changes over the years for growth and sustainability. One of the most challenging aspects of business at this time is keeping up with our growth and adjusting the sails and business processes as we go along. We are fine tuning things to set us up for a growth and expansion phase, but that requires change and challenges.

Q.: You have been serving the Oswego community since 2006. What have been the keys to the business’ success and longevity?

A.: The key to our success has been outstanding patient care. People genuinely like coming into the clinic. They know our team is giving it their all, and providing as much value within the therapy sessions to help our patients recover and achieve their goals as quickly as possible. We put the patient’s needs and care above all else.

Q.: What are the keys to running a physical, occupational and fitness facility on a highly successful level?

A.: The keys to running a successful practice are relationships and marketing. This means relationships with your referring physicians, patients, and community, along with relationships with your staff and team. Marketing what you do and how you are different are also vital. We are more manually based focus and offer more one-on-one treatment time than most clinics. That makes us different and I believe we get better results. We also offer many niche services such as hand therapy, concussion rehab, vision therapy and balance and vestibular services which has helped us to stand out in the community.

Q.: You recently rebranded the business and are now FYZICAL Therapy & Balance Center of Oswego. What motivated the change?

A.: By aligning with the national collaborative, we are able to serve an entirely new patient demographic that we were not serving — balance and vestibular patients. Through our partnership with FYZICAL, we now are a balance level 2 center, and are able to offer a proprietary progressive framework for the treatment of balance disorders. In addition, we have been able to add specialized equipment to our facility, such as a safety overhead support system ensuring our patients cannot fall. We have added a class 4 laser for the treatment of pain and inflammation as well as Normtec compression therapy for healing and muscle recovery. This year, we plan to add pelvic health and wellness services for the treatment of pelvic floor dysfunction and incontinence.

Q.: How has advanced technology impacted the physical and occupational therapy realm?

A.: Equipment and tools have become more modernized. Laser is big right now and has really helped many of our patients. We feature new technology such as Frenzel goggles for effectively treating patients with benign paroxysmal positional vertigo. However, there is no substitute for human connection and putting your hands on a patient, and therapeutic use of self. Much of what we do is one-on-one consulting — how to move, how to position yourself in bed for less back pain, and when to increase activity levels and how. Technology cannot do that.

Q.: What changes can customers expect as a result of the rebranding and expansion? What added services do you now feature?

A.: Our FYZICAL balance program is up and running. We expect to add pelvic health and wellness services in 2020 as well as expand in the Central New York area.

Q.: What are the most gratifying aspects of your profession and being your own business owner?

A.: It is still intensely gratifying to help someone improve their functional abilities and regain something that they had lost. That never gets old! In regards to business, I am incredibly proud that we have built this thing from the ground up, created a positive work environment and a culture and community that I am proud of.