The Story of Dresher Physical Therapy
Over the years, many people have asked me how and when I decided to start my own business. As is often the case in life, the answer is not always simple. In my case, multiple people and events pushed me to finally venture out on my own and realize a goal I had set while in high school.
Thinking back, my first thought of becoming a physical therapist actually came while I was experiencing rehab myself. My lower leg had been shattered into about a dozen fragments during a soccer match and required immediate surgical intervention. The expert guidance, kind spirit, and motivating words of my physical therapist helped me mentally and physically through months of difficult rehab. As I bonded with my PT, I realized that this was potentially a profession I could really enjoy. I could help people, tend to their mind and their body AND not be chained to a desk all day. Sign me up.
It's the people that matter:
The years of PT school training at Ithaca College certainly prepared me to be a professional. But there are two crucial people who most motivated me to start my own practice.
I walked into Matt DiPaulo's private PT practice in Blue Bell one summer day after my freshman year at college. Matt had been the head PT for the Philadelphia Flyers during their Stanley Cup Championships in the mid-1970's and was a bit of a local legend. I explained to him that I was in PT school and had taken a job a few weeks ago selling Cutco knives. I was so bad at this that not even my own parents would buy knives from me. Matt took mercy on me and instantly hired me to work in his clinic as an aide. I continued to work for Matt and his team over the ensuing summers and learned things I still use in practice today. His guidance, charismatic personality and freely-given advice were motivating and invaluable to me in the eventual creation of Dresher PT and what is now our company culture.
I lost my then-33 year old sister Kathy to a tragic car accident in 1994, leaving behind her husband and 3 children. This began a very difficult 3- year stretch where our family also lost my sister Hilary's husband and my Aunt Joan in separate car accidents. Out of that deep sadness came a truth that guides many of my life's decisions to this day. And certainly motivated me to open my own clinic. That truth: that life is so incredibly short. Even if you live deep into your 90's, time still races by. What are we waiting for? Do what you've always wanted to do. Take that trip, climb that impossible mountain, or start that business you've always dreamed of. I always wanted to make my sister Kathy proud and the memory of her too-short time here on Earth fueled my fire.
The final plunge:
After I was out working as a PT for about 6 years, I found myself working for a large corporate rehab company. Without going into details, let's just say that was an incredibly eye-opening experience. Multiple levels of bloated managerial inefficiency and highly questionable ethics were routinely on display. Throw in for good measure that one horrific boss that we all have had (at least once) in our lives, and the decision was made. I was outta there!
Yet even then, there was indecision on my part. Was now the right time? What were the trends in health care and in the economy in general that could make or break me? There would always be an excuse or a fear that could have prevented me from making that final leap. Two people came to my rescue.
First and foremost, my son Tyler. Now 18 years old and a freshman at Carbrini University, the early portion of Tyler's life was not at all easy. Diagnosed with a rare and incurable genetic disorder, Tyler went through two separate and agonizing bone marrow transplants before he was even two years old. How he handled with such grace and courage the aggressive chemotherapy, total body irradiation, immune system suppression, isolation room procedures and the massive amount of medications that needed to be taken orally is beyond me. His inspiring courage made me say to myself, "If Tyler can do this, I can certainly muster the courage to go out on a limb and start my own business."
Finally there was my wife, Chris. She put up with my many months of planning, tolerated my obsessing over dozens of pages of notes and "To Do" lists, and even patiently allowed me to vent my doubts about the venture. Her calm demeanor and infinite belief in my ability to succeed was the final push I needed.
Dresher PT was born September 19, 2001 due to the power of the positive people I was fortunate enough to have encountered in my life. And DPT has succeeded beyond my wildest expectations 17 years later due to even more amazing people (employees and patients) who I have been blessed to have encountered in my life.
That's my story... at least, thus far. What's yours?
Matt Seabrook, Owner