Ask Mike Reinold

Is it Possible for a Physical Therapy Clinic to Only Treat Athletes?

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I know a ton of people wished that they worked with more athletes. This can be a blast if you love sports physical therapy.

There are ways you can put yourself in position to do just that, but, should you?

To view more episodes, subscribe, and ask your questions, go to mikereinold.com/askmikereinold.

#AskMikeReinold Episode 254: Is it Possible for a Physical Therapy Clinic to Only Treat Athletes?

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Show Notes


Transcript

Trevor Claridge:
So, Thomas from New Jersey, “Is it possible for a clinic to only treat athletes?”

Mike Reinold:
I’m like, “Was that the question on the bottom?”

Trevor Claridge:
You said to go in reverse order.

Mike Reinold:
Okay, that makes sense. No, no, I meant… All right, we’ll talk about it. That was good, I was looking around. I’m like… All right, we’ll talk, I explained that poorly. I have so many thoughts in my head that I don’t articulate well with my mouth, so I apologize, Trevor, you’re the man.

Mike Reinold:
All right, so Thomas from New Jersey, I thought this was a good question. We actually had about two or three questions that were very similar to this the last couple of months. I thought it would be good that we can tackle this. I wonder if this is just because schools are graduating now and people are sitting for the boards and stuff, and they’re starting to think of stuff. But I think Thomas’ question was really good. He essentially just said like, “Is it possible for a clinic to only treat athletes?” Right? I went back and forth in my head about a lot of things on this, but who wants to start? Who wants to tackle this one and talk about it? Is it possible? And then I don’t know, maybe is it possible? Is it wise? How do we help people get there? Because I think that’s the real reason, right? What do you got, Lisa?

Lisa Russell:
I mean, I guess my first thought is like, “How are you defining athlete?” Because you’re defining athlete as like-

Mike Reinold:
I would say a human that plays a sport.

Lisa Russell:
Right. Or just somebody who wants to be an active individual. I don’t know, but I guess in my head my initial picture of an athlete is a teenager to college-age person. But like athletes are 60-year-olds and 70-year-olds who just want to keep doing what they want to do.

Mike Reinold:
I love that. That’s a really good point, Lisa, because I… And this is a question for Thomas, because obviously you can specialize anything. You can specialize in one sport, one age demographic, you can specialize in anything, right? So, I like that. And Lisa, I think you made a really excellent point there, and Thomas, don’t think that an athlete is just a high school football player, right? I think that’s probably what a lot of people think. Realize that a lot of gen pop people in later phases of life want to be athletic and may have athletic injuries and may want to get back to sports. I think that’s a really good starting point, Lisa, I like that. What do you think, Len?

Lenny Macrina:
I was just saying that I’m a 46 year old who wants to be an athlete, so I guess…

Mike Reinold:
I know, right? And I mean, I hurt every day, right? Something is bothering me every day. It’s crazy, but

Lenny Macrina:
I screwed up a cartwheel yesterday and I screwed up my shoulder, but I’m good, it won’t affect my… I just want to hit hellacious bombs on the golf course. But no, I mean, I agree with Lisa, like “What’s an athlete?” I think that’s part of our website, that’s part of our core values and how we kind of founded Champion was, “If you have a body you’re an athlete.” Anybody, and that’s kind of what we do at Champion, right?

Lenny Macrina:
We get people who are 40’s, who do CrossFit. We get people who row in their 50’s, you know what I mean? We have high school, college kids, professional athletes. That’s what we do. We’re all over the place with that, so I think we’ve created a little niche that way, that people value what we do. I think it definitely is possible, and I think we get very few people who are not trying to do something very specific, and they seek us out. Whether it’s after previous PT elsewhere, or they just seek us out from the beginning, they have a specific goal in mind, and I can think of numerous people that all of us are treating. So, it definitely is possible.

Mike Reinold:
Let me ask you a question, Len, before we get to Dave. Do you think Champion classifies as that? Do we only treat athletes?

Lenny Macrina:
No, and it’s not like we’re turning people away because they’re not an athlete, it’s not like that’s part of our questionnaire on the phone, like, “What’s your sport? Oh, sorry, we’re going to send you elsewhere.” No, I mean, that’s just our reputation, maybe? I don’t know. But we definitely see people that are not doing a sport, or some kind of hobby, but I think it’s definitely in the minority of people that we see in general of a population. I think it’s very rewarding. I treated a guy who had a partial knee replacement. So rewarding to just get him back and get back to what he wanted to do, which was just have a pain-free knee, you know? Off the top of my head.

Mike Reinold:
That’s a good point. What do you think? What do you think we’re like 90:10 athletes, though? Or 80:20?

Lenny Macrina:
I would say yeah. Something like that easily.

Mike Reinold:
I mean, that’s probably… And was there a connection to this person? Is there a reason why you thought… Was he-

Lenny Macrina:
I treated his kid. Yeah. I treated his kid who’s a high school lacrosse player and the kid had a good experience, the parents had a good experience with me and they’re like, “I want to rehab with Lenny.”

Mike Reinold:
Yeah, and I think that is the number one reason why it’s going to be hard to only treat athletes, right? Because you’re always going to get situations like that. I think you phrased that well. What’s up Dave? What are you thinking?

Dave Tilley:
Yeah, I mean, I guess the first thing that popped into my mind is like, “Is it possible? Yes. Is it optimal? No.” I think for everyone involved, clinicians, client… Clients, obviously, right? Clients want to be able to get your services. But I think that the danger from a clinical point of view is that when you start to come out and only be a specialist for sports in general, or just types of different sports you like, or you work in, I think you really undermine your ability to be a great clinician from a holistic point of view. Because in my experience, and I think Dan and I have a similar experience, is like we actually started in more of the general setting and kind of went like, “Okay, what does the knee joint need? What does the shoulder joint need? How do you treat just the general back for pain?”

Dave Tilley:
I think that when you master the body parts in a movement system, and then you funnel that into like, “Okay, well, what are the top five injuries I see in a baseball player or someone who does CrossFit,” I think it sharpens your tool set to be able to clinically think that way. I think there’s an error in going the other way of being like, “I’m only going to treat throwing elbow injuries, but I know nothing about general lateral epicondylitis, or something of that nature.” So yeah, I would say, from the clinician’s point of view, and then obviously from the business health, and then also the client’s point of view, being really good at just dealing with general aches and pains is probably the best way to start.

Mike Reinold:
I think that’s a really good point here too, and I like how you said that if you don’t know how to treat a gen pop orthopedic diagnosis, and you’re only working with athletic diagnoses, with a joint, you’re going to miss stuff. I think you’re going to miss a lot of things, right? I think that’s an important concept. Maybe for the younger crowd, maybe for the early career people, the students… If you’re a veteran, you’ve been doing this for 10, 15, 20 years and you want to start saying, “I only want to do it.” I think you’ve earned that right, though, right? I think that satisfies your concern there, Dave. So, I think that would vary, depending on where you are. What about the finances of it? I mean…

Dave Tilley:
No.

Mike Reinold:
I know, so the business owner hat comes on, I think there’s a reason why most clinics treat Medicare patients, is they reimburse some of the highest in the world, right? If you’re only treating athletes, you also think about that, too, then especially if it’s a high school based thing, which is pretty huge, what are you going to… Your clinic’s only going to be open from 3 o’clock to 10 o’clock, right? What are you going to do all morning, right? So, you might as well load it up with some other people to generate revenue in the square footage that you’re paying rent on every minute of the day, right? Especially if they’re a higher paying insurance thing, but that being said to me, we certainly don’t think of it that way, but I understand why people do do it that way.

Mike Reinold:
We don’t act that way at Champion, but I don’t know. I mean, I think if you kind of put all the responses together here, is I think very few people will. Even us at Champion, which we’re probably the most athletic place I know. I don’t think we’re 100% athletes, and we’re perfectly okay with that. Not only do we enjoy it, but I think it really helps us think and grow and stay current and active, right? So, it’s not that you can’t.

Mike Reinold:
Now, how do you do it, right? Let’s now end with maybe that little thing, and if anybody has any thoughts, jump in. But how do you do it? I think for me, the biggest thing is just keep over delivering on the patient population that you want to see the most, right? And make sure you’re mastering it, you’re doing as best as you can and over-delivering it. Over time it’ll grow, right? I think I wrote this as a newsletter a few months ago, on one of my weekend newsletters, and then I think I liked it so much I made it a blog post. I don’t remember if I ever published it, though, so I’m a little behind. But I think I wrote like, “How do you evolve?” When you first start practicing and you want get into sports, it’s like 20% sports and then 80% everything else, because you’re the rookie, right? You’re getting the evals that the other therapists don’t want, maybe. But then you really over-deliver on that crowd and it slowly starts growing and then your other crowd shrinks.

Mike Reinold:
Then all of a sudden you’re 80:20 treating that client population that you want the most. So, how do you do it? It takes time. When you’re first opening your doors as a clinic, I’d be really scared, financially, to just say we only treat athletes, right? Because I mean, you’re a physical therapist, you can help athletic people, and I think that goes back to Lisa’s first comment here, was that a lot of people want to use their body just like an athlete. A lot of people want to be treated like an athlete, even if they don’t play a sport. So, keep that in mind too, I think you want to do that, but you got to get going and you to steamroll that a little bit before you put up those red velvet ropes and say that we only treat athletes.

Mike Reinold:
Does that makes sense? So, can you do it? I have no doubt you can do it, Thomas. I think you can. I don’t think that’s the issue, but it’s something to really keep in mind. But what’s the fastest way to get there in my mind? Over-deliver like heck on the athletes you have, and word will spread over time and you’ll get there. Don’t get me wrong, that’s assuming your clinic doesn’t just have like parallel bars and a total gym in the corner, right? No offense, if I just described your clinic, but you know what I mean? That’s not a sports kind of clinic, right? If you don’t build a sports clinic, it’s going to be really hard to draw athletes, right? They’re not going to go there and be like, “This place is for me.” Right?

Mike Reinold:
You come to Champion, it looks like a gym, it looks like a performance center, it looks like a training room, and we act like it’s a training room. Which is what a lot of athletes feel comfortable in. We kind of created that environment.

Mike Reinold:
Awesome. But, good question, Thomas, good luck with that. I’m sure you’ll do well. I think it’s possible, I think there’s a lot of good variables in there and I think more and more people, the more you focus on one specific niche, whatever that is, I think you can do it. So, good luck with that. Great question. If you have another question like that, again, head to mikereinold.com, click on that podcast link, ask away and be sure to go to iTunes, Spotify, rate, review us and make sure you subscribe so we can keep doing these episodes every week. Thanks so much. See you guys next time.

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