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Before earning their degrees, Emory DPT students must complete 36 weeks of full-time clinical internship at sites which represent the diverse environments in which physical therapists practice. One of those sites is the Cantrell Center for Physical Therapy & Wellness in Warner Robbins, GA.
The Cantrell Center was opened in 1992 by two graduates of the Emory Physical Therapy program, Mike Cantrell, MPT ’89, PRC (Postural Restoration Certified) and Tassie Cantrell, MPT ’86. “Mike took the Director of Physical Therapy position at the University of Georgia in Athens after he got his degree, and I stayed on at Emory, working in the hospital and teaching for the graduate physical therapy program,” says Tassie. ‘But we always wanted to open our own practice. Mike grew up in Warner Robins, so we ended up there.”
By 2004, the Cantrells had outgrown the first facility they opened, so they built the 20,000 square feet building that now houses the Center. They designed the new facility to accommodate not only their thriving physical therapy practice, but also aquatic therapy and a wellness program.
A total of nine physical therapists, including Mike and Tassie, work at the Center (some are part-time), and there are five licensed physical therapy assistants. “We see everything that walks through our door – about 85 percent are considered orthopedically involved patients and 10 to 15 percent are neurologically involved or pediatric patients,” says Tassie.
Mike, an instructor for the Postural Restoration Institute, also offers Postural Restoration treatment. In fact, the Cantrell Center is the only PRI certified facility in the state. Postural Restoration is an innovative treatment approach that addresses the primary contributions of postural kinematic movement dysfunction.
The wellness side of the Center grew out of frustration over the inability to continue therapy as long as the Cantrell’s deemed necessary. “For example, if a person has a total knee replacement, the minute they are independent in their functional ability – they can stand from a sitting position, go up and down stairs – they are done. Insurance will not cover any more physical therapy,” says Tassie. “But we had a lot of patients who wanted more than that. They wanted to be able to get down on their knees and garden. They wanted to go bowling. So we offer a wellness facility that will allow patients to come to reach their personal goals guided by people who understand their condition.”
In addition to everything else going on at the Center, it accepts physical therapy students on their clinical rotations. Students shadow a therapist to learn how the Center documents, how it bills and schedules. They learn how to interact with patients, and then they gradually begin to treat patients under the close supervision of a therapist.
“When a student evaluates a patient, we sit with the student and ask them what they saw, their interpretation of what is going on with the patient and what they think the best course of treatment is,” says Tassie. “It is very time consuming, and productivity at the Center slows down when we have students. But the bottom line is someone did it for me and someone did it for Mike, and we wouldn’t be where we are now if they hadn’t.
“Besides being the right thing to do, I love watching the light bulbs click on,” she continues. “We relish the opportunity to give students a place to come and train where we know what we are doing is sound medicine.”
Although the Cantrells accept physical therapy students from many schools, they have a special feeling about Emory students. “I love Emory and I feel like I am who I am as a clinician because of my Emory education,” says Tassie. “I had such a great team of teachers who believed in the profession and really wanted their students to come away with a sense of how physical therapy should be practiced. We take students from all over, but we don’t even question when they are coming from Emory.”
To learn more about the Cantrell Center, visit their web site at http://cantrellcenter.com.