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Celebrating 25 Years of Serving Others

Celebrating 25 Years of Serving Others

Can you change someone’s life today?

When you surround yourself with good people who put others first, believe in the idea of a team, and all work towards the same common goal, you set yourself up for success. Northern Physical Therapy is celebrating it’s 25th anniversary this year and co-owners Janis Kemper and Gina Otterbein are taking some time to reflect on the path that brought them here.

“After 30 years of working in this field, I can honestly say I still love this profession,” said Kemper. “I find it so gratifying to see a patient come in on crutches and a few weeks later walk without an assistive device or a limp – physical therapy works!”Celebrating 25 Years of Serving OthersKemper and Otterbein became business partners over 15 years ago when they purchased Northern Physical Therapy. What may have seemed like an unlikely partnership, quickly proved to be a recipe for success that would grow the company to it’s current 10 clinics, with the hopes of adding a few more in the future.

“Going into PT I didn’t see myself being a business owner, but some stroke of the universe brought Gina and I together. If I’m the peanut butter she’s the jelly, I’m the yin and she’s the yang… you get the idea,” jokes Kemper. “Our strengths are opposite and while Gina has said she feels lucky to have such a great clinician as a business partner, the truth of the matter is I’m lucky to have a partner that has such a great knowledge of business!”

Celebrating 25 Years of Serving OthersWhile the two women may have different strengths when it comes to running a business, they do have one thing in common, and that’s attracting like minded people who share their passion for helping others.

Julie Blodgett is the Clinic Director of the Sparta location, but she’s also Gina’s older sister, and the person who inspired Gina to become a physical therapist. Julie knew early on that she wanted to pursue a career that would allow her to serve others.

“In high school I participated in a career observation day with a physical therapist who was working with a med school student that suffered a traumatic brain injury in an auto accident. The therapists were helping him to regain his ability to sit without support and use his arms again. This experience had a great impact on me, as these therapists were providing hope and help to someone that had just had a catastrophic, life-changing event. At that moment I knew this was exactly what I wanted to do.”

Celebrating 25 Years of Serving Others

“Northern feels like home to me. I love being part of a team that is universally committed to doing our best work in order to provide excellent care for our clients. It gives me joy to help people become a better version of themselves, and working for a company that supports this and is “all about the people” feels like I am home.” Julie Blodgett

Alongside Julie in Sparta is Cathy DeBerti, who also felt the calling to physical therapy in high school. As a lifeguard at the community recreation center, Cathy was teaching a seven year old girl who had downs syndrome how to swim. Working with the young girl led her to pursue a career in the field of physical therapy. Cathy has been with Northern for 13 years and she values the way the leadership embraces the differences in each team member. She explains, “there are a lot of clinicians working for Gina and Janis and we’re all different, we all have different ways of treating. Those differences are encouraged, we’re never expected to be, act, or treat the same, we’re all led to feel good about what we bring to the table.”

Celebrating 25 Years of Serving Others“Gina and Janis have taught me that you will do great work if you’re passionate about what you do. In the end the results will speak for themselves.” Lisa Otterbein-Bolek, Physical Therapist and Clinic Director in Comstock Park/Grand Rapids

As Northern has continued to grow, Otterbein and Kemper have placed special emphasis on mentoring team members to bring out the best in them, and give them the ability to advance in the organization.

Cedar Springs Clinic Director, David Sefton, has learned from Otterbein and Kemper that leadership is about serving others well. He notes that when you look to the interests of others and use empathy, you can accomplish great things with your team.

Celebrating 25 Years of Serving Others

“I love empowering patients to see their potential. We have immense challenges in life, and there is grace in discovering our bodies’ abilities to heal, overcome, and transform as we move forward.” David Sefton, Physical Therapist and Clinic Director in Cedar Springs

Sefton recalls an experience working with a patient who had overcome cancer and was experiencing severe knee pain. Sefton empathized with the patient, who was discouraged about having to go through another surgery. They worked together before and after the surgery, and the patient showed extreme progress. Recently Sefton received a thank you card from the patient that included a photo of him skiing. This unexpected memento was a reminder of how much joy you get from helping patients live their life to the fullest again.

Celebrating 25 Years of Serving Others“I love watching the patient’s transformation inside and out as they struggle and grow through therapy to achieve their physical goals.” Diana Painter, Physical Therapist in Cedar Springs

While patient care has always been the top priority at Northern Physical Therapy, getting out in the community is a close second. Northern has strategically chosen mainly rural settings for most of their clinics. Being in a small community allows them to really get involved, get to know community members, and make a positive difference.

Celebrating 25 Years of Serving Others“When I hear a patient’s story I feel honored knowing I get to play a small part in their journey to recovery. It’s so rewarding seeing people on their discharge day, knowing they’re finally able to get back to their normal routine.” Jessica Valiquette, Patient Coordinator in Coopersville

Lisa Otterbein-Bolek, Clinic Director in Comstock Park, says “being committed to your community is key because you have to serve others before thinking about yourself.” This mentality is shared by others and is at the forefront of all that Northern Physical Therapy stands for.

In addition to serving on various school, community, Rotary, and Chamber of Commerce boards, team members are often encouraged to volunteer time with organizations that are meaningful to them. Julie Blodgett adds “I absolutely love that our staff and families volunteer for the Miracle League by buddying up with a youth baseball player to assist and cheer them on during the game. These kids are so fun to be around and I am certain that I get more out of this special event than I actually give.”

Celebrating 25 Years of Serving OthersAs Otterbein reflects on the idea of 25 years she can’t help but think about the reason she comes to work every day. “We have a way of energizing, inspiring and supporting each other in so many ways. I’ve also witnessed countless patients who’s lives have changed because we’ve supported them in an effort to achieve something great. The impact of that combined with knowing how much better I feel personally, because of working with our physical therapists for my sports rehab issues makes me want to share how much physical therapy can help anyone on their path to recovery, health, or greater fitness.”

Northern Physical Therapy excited to announce the opening of their 10th west Michigan clinic in Caledonia on September 4, 2018. If you’re experiencing pain and are looking for exceptional care that’s close to home, schedule a complimentary injury consultation with a physical therapist at any Northern Physical Therapy clinic. More information can be found at www.northernpts.com.

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Celebrating 25 Years of Serving Others

Safe Running & Strategies for Preventing Injury

Safe Running & Strategies for Preventing Injury

Every runner is going to suffer an injury, pain, or imbalance at some point, but that doesn’t have to stop you from hitting the pavement. Proper form and strength training can prevent injuries, and  improve your performance, form and control.

We work with runners every single day and we see countless shin splints, ACL issues, stress fractures, pulled muscles, and random aches and pains. While our end goal is to get you feeling great and running your best, with no pain, it’s ideal to avoid these injuries in the first place – and proper planning can help. Every runner, beginner or advanced, should take the following injury-prevention strategies into account.

Safe Running & Strategies for Preventing InjuryStart Right
Warm up with a brisk walk or running drills, and then begin the more rigorous parts of your workout as your muscles begin to feel activated. If you’re just starting a running regimen, your routine should include stretching after running.

Identify Weakness
Every runner has some type of inefficiency in their form. It may be subtle, but finding those issues will uncover opportunities to make the body stronger and ready for more strenuous training. Physical therapists can identify these weak points through a gait analysis. By watching you run on a treadmill and examining your alignment, we can see where you need to strengthen muscles, adjust form, improve your shoe wear, or reduce impact in order to become a more efficient runner. When runners can see a knee drift inward, they can visualize the correction and activate muscles to offset the poor form.
Safe Running & Strategies for Preventing Injury

There are a few areas any non-injured runner can target to run more efficiently. Endurance runners may have underdeveloped hamstrings, so targeting the hamstrings with strengthening exercises may help. In addition, a single-leg balance or single-leg squat is a low impact exercise that pushes the body to build strength, balance, and coordination in the muscle groups most used while running.

Beginner Strategies
Starting a new running regimen? That’s great, but be careful because novice runners will have to adjust to the impact on their joints. A beginner shouldn’t start with 5 to 7 runs each week. Instead, replace several of these runs with biking, swimming, or time on the elliptical. Each of these activities builds cardiovascular endurance and strength without stressing the joints too much too soon.

Safe Running & Strategies for Preventing Injury

Big-Picture Training
Running shouldn’t be the end of your exercise regimen. Strength training can improve your running. Strength in your core and hips, flexibility, and coordination all factor into your performance, so make improving these areas part of training, too. Whether you devote hours each week to running, or run occasionally to maintain a basic level of fitness, a physical therapist can make sure you do so safely.

If you are experiencing shin splints, foot or ankle pain, knee pain, sprains, muscle imbalance, or any other type of pain when running, schedule a free consultation with us so we can take a look at your form and set up a program specifically for you.Safe Running & Strategies for Preventing Injury

Safe Running & Strategies for Preventing Injury

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Preventing Golf Injuries

Preventing Golf Injuries

This year we waited way too long for warmer weather to arrive but now that it’s finally here, it’s time to dust the clubs off and get your golf game back into motion. But, there’s nothing worse than starting the season off with an injury or nagging back pain.

We’ve found that golfers of all levels agree that it’s much easier to make a mechanically correct swing when their body is strong and flexible. Getting your body in shape for the season ahead involves three components:
– maintaining and improving flexibility
– improving golf specific strength
– improving postural balance and stability

Preventing Golf InjuriesFlexibility & Strengthening Exercises
Now is the time to begin a stretching and strengthening program for your neck, back and extremities. Increasing joint flexibility can lengthen your swing and increase the club head speed, resulting in longer shots. We work with golfers throughout the season who complain of back pain, tendonitis, and other localized pain in the neck and elbow. The first thing we do is assess their range of motion and create a customized stretching program specifically for the areas that are bothering them.

We’ve listed the most common injuries along with stretching tips to help prevent or reduce pain and/or injuries resulting from the repetitive nature of the golf swing paired with the high velocity forces.

Medial epicondylitis (golfer’s elbow)
Golfer’s elbow involves increased inflammation and pain on the inside of the elbow.  Try extending and flexing the wrist, and rotating your wrist clockwise and counter-clockwise to strengthen and stretch it.

Preventing Golf Injuries

Shoulder tendonitis, or “rotator cuff tendonitis”
This can be a chronic problem for people who have tightness or weak areas within their shoulders. Start with the cross chest stretch by bringing your injured arm across your body then place your other hand on your elbow and hold the stretch. You can also stand upright and clasp your hands behind your back. Keep your arms straight and slowly lift your hands upwards. Hold this stretch for 20 to 30 seconds, then repeat it 2 to 3 times.

Low back pain
Back pain is the most common issue that we treat when it comes to golfers because the golf swing combines unnatural spinal movements. The following stretch is great for increasing flexibility in the low back. Begin by lying on your left side, bend both knees 90 degrees, resting the right knee on top of the left. Extend both arms straight out from the shoulders, resting the left arm on the floor, right arm on top of the left. Slowly raise your right arm off your left, up and over your body until it is resting on the floor behind you, creating a twist in your upper body. Hold this position for 20-30 seconds, and repeat the exercise by lying on your right side.

Neck Pain
The ability to comfortably and fully tuck and rotate your chin is necessary to achieve a good swing position. Limitations in flexibility or range of motion can cause muscle strain or nerve pinching. To help alleviate the stress on the neck, try gently rotating your neck from side to side and front to back, twice per day for twenty seconds.

Preventing Golf Injuries

Being aware of your posture and physically preparing your body are key elements to achieving a pain free golf game. If you have questions concerning golf-related injuries, or would like to schedule a free consultation, feel free to contact the Northern Physical Therapy near you to speak to a physical therapist. We work with golfers, athletes, and people suffering from pain – our goal is to get you back to feeling great and living a pain free life!

Preventing Golf Injuries

Preventing Golf InjuriesPreventing Golf Injuries

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