Local physical therapy group opens Copperas Cove office
By BRITTANY FHOLER
Allied Therapies of Texas is looking to change the therapy game by offering patients an option to seek treatment without obtaining a doctor’s referral first.
Founded by Brent Dunbar and George Becerra, Allied Therapies opened its doors in Copperas Cove on October 4, 2019 and offers physical therapy, occupational therapy and speech therapy.
Dunbar is a physical therapist, with a specialization in Orthopedic PT. Becerra is a certified occupational therapist assistant and former Army medic.
Dunbar said the idea for Allied Therapies came about five years ago. After looking around and speaking with physicians and other therapists, Dunbar said that he determined that the community would benefit from another therapy clinic.
“It came about because we didn’t like how other businesses were operating, how they were treating their patients,” Dunbar said. “We thought we could probably do it better than they could. That we could deliver a superior product without angering patients, and so that’s kind of what we set to do.”
Dunbar said that most of the time a therapist does work underneath a doctor’s orders, but sometimes it seems like there are too many bosses involved.
Dunbar, Becerra and several of the other staff members at Allie Therapies previously worked together at Metroplex (now AdventHealth).
“We all have a really good, strong relationship and we felt like, I felt like, if you empower the therapist, you’ll deliver a better product to your patients,” Dunbar said. “So, what angers therapists is when the administrators get controlling over them, so we wanted to try to do away with a lot of lot, so for our therapists here, we do not dictate to them how they have to practice.”
Dunbar said that administrators typically focus on the money and on the billing and the how and when of it, as well as how often therapists see their patients and at what times.
“It’s really none of their business in my opinion,” Dunbar added. “That should be the therapists’ professional judgement as to how you should be doing your billing.”
This type of environment is what led Dunbar to leave Metroplex and go work at a different clinic, he said. Becerra stayed at Metroplex a little while longer, but eventually the two moved forward with their dream and opened their doors just six months ago.
Allied Therapies occupies two store fronts in their building, allowing them to offer occupational therapy, physical therapy and speech therapy.
“The original mindset for me was to do PT because I am a PT, but in the time I spent working at Metroplex, I saw the utility of having all of the disciplines together, so there is overlap sometimes,” Dunbar said. He gave the example of a stroke patient who would likely need speech therapy, physical therapy and occupational therapy to help rebuild what the stroke affected.
Dunbar said this makes Allied Therapies like a one-stop shop, allowing patients to seek treatment all in one area.
Allied Therapies differs from other therapy offices in that they accept patients without a doctor’s referral.
“The other places could do it if they want to, but they don’t,” Dunbar said. “Our healthcare system has been in a manner where you have to go through all of these steps.”
If a person injures their back while lifting boxes, traditionally, they will go see their primary care doctor who then refers them to physical therapy. There is often a time lag each time a patient is referred to see another healthcare provider.
One of Dunbar’s patients, John Rachwitz, said he experienced this himself.
“I was on a list over at the other therapy place here in town for three months trying to get in, and I was able to get in with these guys,” Rachwitz said. “I got tired of waiting on them.”
Rachwitz has suffered from back pain for five years and has had injections in his back, a nerve ablation procedure done and undergone chiropractic care.
In his visits to Allied Therapies, he has seen immense improvement.
“I feel a lot better,” Rachwitz said. “I don’t think I’ll have to get injections anytime soon.”
John said he was a patient at a different physical therapy office for a different issue in the past and has noticed the difference in Dunbar’s treatment of his patients.
“He’s here the whole time,” he said. “He’s right there with me, correcting me if I’m doing something wrong and so that’s the first I’ve ever been with a therapist and I’ve had that kind of interaction. I think it’s great.”
Dunbar said this falls under a philosophy of rendering superior care and offering it sooner than later.
“Unfortunately, in my opinion, if you do an injection, it doesn’t fix the mechanical problem that’s causing it,” Dunbar said. “If you do a nerve ablation procedure, it might help your symptoms for a time, but it doesn’t fix the mechanical problem that’s causing it.”
When those procedures wear off, a patient is not better but is in fact worse off than before because they are now chronic patients, Dunbar said.
“I think the answer is we want to get people in as soon as we can before it gets more and more chronic,” Dunbar said. “The more chronic it gets, the more multiple body systems are involved.”
Allied Therapies will see a patient for three weeks before requiring a doctor’s referral. Dunbar said there is not necessarily a limit to how many visits a patient could be seen within those three weeks. It depends on the extent of the injury. Recovery from an injury occurs while a person is resting. The therapy provides stimulus which helps heal the tissue because it stimulates the blood supply.
“You really need both. You need the stimulus but then you need the rest in there too,” Dunbar said.
Usually two or three times a week is common practice, he added.
“I certainly don’t want to push the doctors away,” Dunbar said. “I love the team approach. I love the ability that the doctor can still order the X-Ray or MRI or whatever’s necessary to help with the diagnostics of that person, but I just don’t think it’s crucial that we have to intentionally make that delay.”
According to their website, Allied Therapies plans to take all major insurance plans.
Allied Therapies is located at 1521 E. Bus. 190. The phone number for Allied Therapies of Texas is (254) 238-7836. Their website is www.alliedtherapiestx.com