Putting Joy into Practice

Cover - Health and Humor Go Hand in HandBy Patty Jo Sawvel

Jeff Hathaway was 10 years old when his factory-working father told him, “Son, when you get older, it does not matter to me what you do. Just make sure you enjoy it.”

Armed with that sage advice, Jeff paid attention to what brought him joy. Clearly, by high school it was sports. He looked up to Coach Jack Jones who was able to transform Jeff from a shy and withdrawn teen into a team player who shared the victory of a New York State Championship in basketball.

So Jeff pursued a degree in physical education and coaching. However, two years into his studies, he realized that it would also bring him joy to be able to provide for his future family. With this new insight, he fine-tuned his vision and became a physical therapist. However, he soon learned another valuable lesson.

“When I started working, I realized that it is not enough to find the type of work that you enjoy. You actually have to find a workplace that shares your values for excellence, personal growth, and happiness,” Jeff said thoughtfully.

Unable to find a practice that matched his vision, Jeff gathered the tools—business management, leadership, business coaching—and 15 years ago opened a physical therapy practice that mirrored his values. Today, Jeff Hathaway owns 14 BreakThrough Physical Therapy clinics, 12 of which are in North Carolina.

When he was looking for the right person to open the Kernersville clinic, Dr. Drew Schlabach stood out from the list of qualified candidates.

“Drew had the passion that we were looking for. He has been with us for over four years, and right away he started asking for ways to advance his knowledge and expertise. He is a team player who demonstrates excellent work ethic, and his patients love him,” Jeff said proudly.

Dr. Drew Schlabach found his way to physical therapy in a way similar to Jeff. Drew started out on the engineering track and then switched to accounting. Even though he liked it, he knew he did not love it. Then, a friend suggested job shadowing. After shadowing a physical therapist, Drew knew that he had discovered his passion.

While earning his Doctorate of Physical Therapy at Walsh University, Drew had the opportunity to experience various workplace cultures. After doing an internship at BreakThrough PT in Fayetteville, North Carolina he knew he had found the work environment he was looking for.

“BreakThrough has an exciting culture because it is all about evidence-based therapy. It is about what is working right now—what today’s science and research says is working best for any given injury or condition. So I am in a continuous state of learning and seeing amazing results,” Dr. Drew Schlabach said enthusiastically.

Indeed, to prepare for his leadership role at the newly opened Kernersville BreakThrough PT clinic, he completed several trainings, including a rigorous residency. This opened the door for him to earn his Orthopaedic Certified Specialist (OCS) designation—an achievement shared by less than 4% of therapists in the US.

Lucia Foley, a personal trainer in the Triad, says that she can tell a difference in the BreakThrough approach.

“I have been to many physical therapists over the years. Predictably, they examine me, print out a list of exercises, and have me come back. It is the same routine and I am bounced from therapist to therapist. Dr. Drew is different. He spends time getting to know me and my specific injury. Then, he uses advanced techniques that get fast results,” Lucia said.

Actually, it was one of Lucia’s clients that referred her to Dr. Drew. She had been injured in a car accident and in one visit, he was able to resolve her upper back pain. Later, she went back to him with tennis elbow and though it took several visits, he was able to show her the shortest path to recovery.

“Now, I send all of my clients to Dr. Drew when they have knee, shoulder, or back issues. They love his expertise and his great sense of humor,” Lucia said with a smile.

Amy Hargrave went to see Dr. Drew to manage her chronic foot pain caused by plantar fasciitis. She had gone as far as she could with her podiatrist—taking the maximum cortisone shots allowed in a year and did not want to have surgery. Dr. Drew manually reduced the inflammation in her feet and gave her some strengthening exercises.

“He worked with me for two months and I have been pain free for three years now. I never would have believed that my feet could feel so good! I cannot believe the pain is gone,” Amy said excitedly.

Some chronic pain is not so easily remedied. But at BreakThrough PT, patients who were formerly dependent on opioid-based pain medications are now finding relief.

“We cannot always take pain down to zero, but we now have research and strategies to help patients reverse the body’s responses to chronic pain so that they can do more with less pain and return to their lifestyle,” Dr. Drew said.

In fact, the Veterans Administration is rolling out a similar program to help veterans with chronic pain issues. It is a new alternative that works well for patients who have exhausted the typical resources of injections, surgeries, and traditional physical therapy.

Max Cohen, M.D. who is President of Spine and Scoliosis Specialists in Greensboro said, “I started sending my patients to BreakThrough several years ago when their only office in the Triad was in Winston-Salem. They have earned my trust because their focus on the latest research helps them use the fewest visits to achieve the greatest outcome. Also, they are very ethical and quick to return a patient to the doctor when they realize they have taken a patient as far as they can with physical therapy.”

Some patients start with a doctor when they have an injury, but others go directly to a physical therapist. In North Carolina, for most insurances, you do not need a doctor’s referral to see a physical therapist. It is like that in Europe as well. In fact, in Europe you are likely to be asked, “Who is your Physio?” Everybody has one, just like they have an accountant or a family doctor. If you were to ask that question to CrossFit athlete Glen Phares, he would tell you that it is Dr. Drew at BreakThrough.

“I strained my back and could not do CrossFit. Dr. Drew gave me a couple of specific stretches and used dry needling—it feels weird, like your muscle is twitching, but afterwards it is the most relaxing feeling—and I was back to CrossFit full-force in two days,” Glenn said thankfully.

He added, “Dr. Drew had me in and out in 30 minutes and he made it fun. This is huge when you have an extremely demanding schedule.”

For some people though, just turning over in bed can be very painful. Such is the case for Teresa Hauser. After going to see Dr. Drew just one time, she knew that he really cared about her personally.

“I have lower lumbar disc pain that radiates out to my sciatica. Before I know it, I am bending over, walking slower, and favoring one side. Dr. Drew noticed how this was presenting specifically in my body, took into account my age, and gave me the help that I needed to avoid back surgery. He has reduced my pain to where I am back in the driver’s seat of my life,” Teresa said triumphantly.

In addition to creating an enjoyable experience for patients and the staff, BreakThrough PT is happy to support the many Kernersville celebrations including The Honeybee Festival, Spring Folly, and Kernersville Cares for Kids Annual Lunch & Listen.

Dr. Drew Schlabach said, “My wife, Mallory, and our four children are so excited about our involvement in Kernersville because this is a town that shares our deepest values for faith, family, and good old-fashioned fun.”

Award-winning journalist and author Patty Jo Sawvel can be contacted at pjsawvel@gmail.com.

Jeff Hathaway, PT, DPT, CEO
Mark Watson, PT, DPT, MBA, COO
Drew Schlabach, PT, DPT, OCS

• Free Screening / Consultation
• Evidence-Based Physical Therapy
• Convenient Early & Late Hours
• See the Same PT Every Visit
• Chronic Pain Management
• Dry Needling / Laser / Ultrasound
• Employer Based Services

853 Old Winston Road, Ste. 115
336.310.0750 www.BreakThroughPTclinics.com

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *