Physical therapy center, director aim to beat pain

LEWISTOWN – Curtis Olivieri just wants to help people, and as the facility director at Phoenix Rehabilitation and Health Services Inc. in Lewistown, he is able to focus on doing just that.

The physical therapy clinic opened two weeks ago, and Olivieri is concentrating on providing the best possible care to his patients.

“I want you to have a good experience, and from that experience, I want that to be shared in the community,” he said.

As Phoenix’s patient base grows, so will the staff. Currently, Olivieri, who is a doctor of physical therapy, shares the office with facility secretary Kelly Peters, of Lewistown. Eventually, they hope to add an occupational therapist, a massage therapist and a physical therapy assistant.

Phoenix is a network of nearly 50 physical therapy clinics across Pennsylvania. It was founded by physical therapists to provide hands-on treatment to patients of all ages with a wide variety of issues. To Olivieri, that means a personalized experience “from the same therapist each and every time,” in a welcoming environment where patients aren’t just a chart number.

In addition to that treatment, Olivieri said he focuses on patient education.

“If you don’t know what your injury is, how do you deal with it on your own time?” he said.

Olivieri works with patients to develop individual plans specific to that person’s need. The plans may include stretching exercises, plans for improving posture or other specific tasks geared toward the patient’s daily life. For someone whose job involves working at a computer for most of the day, the plan would be different than it would be for someone who operates machinery.

This functional rehabilitation strategy is intended to strengthen the key areas people use most in every day life, so whether they are trying to get back to work or ease the stress of regular tasks, they can go about those activities in the proper way to avoid pain as much as possible.

As part of its hands-on philosophy, Phoenix incorporates state-of-the-art technology in its treatments. The Lewistown clinic offers InterX therapy and decompression traction therapy, as well as other standard physical therapy equipment like weights and resistance bands.

InterX is a form of neurostimulation. It is a hand-held device capable of identifying exact points where pain originates based on a special electrical current pattern that changes as the nerves change, to prevent the nerves from adjusting to the treatment, rendering it ineffective. It is applied directly to the site and sends gentle electrical waves to stimulate the affected nerves.

Decompression traction therapy is a treatment for back and neck pain. The patient lies on a table specially equipped to stretch the spine, which alleviates pressure on discs, joints and muscles. The treatment alternates between periods of stretching and relaxing and lasts an average of about 20 minutes.

To accommodate varying patient needs, Phoenix’s Lewistown clinic offers private treatment rooms as well as an open gym layout. For example, a person experiencing trauma to a leg may need more space for walking and other ambulatory exercises than someone who is recovering from a wrist injury.

There are windows all around the treatment area, letting in lots of natural light. But that’s not what Olivieri wants people to notice first.

“We really want this to be a family environment,” Olivieri said. He wants people to feel comfortable there and does his best to be warm and inviting when people walk in the door.

Olivieri is originally from the Martinsburg area. He received a Bachelor of Science in kinesiology from Penn State University in 2009 and earned his doctorate in 2012 from the University of Scranton. He joined Phoenix in October specifically to lead the development of the Lewistown clinic, but for the first several months he filled in at other Phoenix locations, learning the standard practices of the network.

“Phoenix tries to … give the freedom to allow the physical therapist to thrive,” he said, noting that the company selects its facility directors based not only on availability, but also on whether that person is the right fit for the needs of the area.

Olivieri specializes in neurological treatment – post-stroke challenges and Parkinson’s disease, for example – but is versed in most types of physical therapy. This makes him capable of addressing nearly any issue he encounters, including but not limited to sports injuries, surgical recovery and work-related injuries.

Not to be confined to the four walls of an office, Olivieri sees himself as a community resource and is available for wellness presentations and education programs.

Phoenix Rehabilitation and Health Services Inc., located at 71 N. Juniata St., Lewistown, is open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Mondays, Tuesdays and Thursdays and from 7 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Wednesdays and Fridays. For more information, call 953-9643.