Davis Physical Therapy and Sports Rehab has met all the goalposts of a small business success story — starting with the fact that the business has grown by 2,000% over the past five years, and that it has outgrown its Medford practice and will be moving to a larger facility nearby.
But Dr. Andrea Davis prefers to measure success of a physical therapy and sports rehab business in another way: She wants to ensure a difference is being made in terms of informed return-to-sports decisions in New Jersey.
Because, right now, the state’s young athletes are putting their bodies on the line in a way that worries her — and should worry parents, too.
“You have kids going back to playing sports under rehab, not even aware that they’re still under rehab,” she said. “You hear, ‘My friend tore his ACL again.’ That’s not normal. Those are catastrophic injuries that lead to long-term health issues. And it’s being treated like an ankle sprain.”
Davis, a lifelong athlete herself and former softball coach at Camden Catholic High School and La Salle University, has tried to make a grassroots impact in addressing that through partnerships, such as the one she forged with Burlington Township High School.
What she brings young athletes that have participated in the injury prevention program she ran there — as well as to the athletes that utilize her practice — is research-driven technologies that evaluate injuries and how they might be prevented.
“This technology, which I feel so strongly about, is stuff that’s used by professional athletes and Olympians, but the general public just doesn’t usually have access to it,” she said.
At her practice, she’s recruited a team of team-forward physical therapists who have embraced data analytics tools for rehabilitation of post-operative clients, as well as those undergoing concussion treatment and other orthopedic therapy services.
The tech focus came not too long into the 2016 founding of Davis Physical Therapy and Sports Rehab.
“As a business owner, I was trying to look for ways we could create efficiencies in accessing data to streamline or accelerate decision-making,” Davis said. “So, I reached out to this company in Australia that had a technology I had seen a prototype of, and they sent a representative that was based in New York. Since then, we’ve totally adopted their system.”
The platform belongs to the technology company dorsaVi, which now maintains a U.S. base in Madison. Its FDA-cleared data system utilizes sensors affixed to the lower legs and spine to map out movement patterns. What’s captured by that wearable device can then be used to tailor treatment plans.
“There’s certain angles, for instance, that apply across all sports that we prefer that people move into and out of to create the lowest amount of risk for return to sport,” she said. “So, we can give clients actionable data and corrective exercises that we can quickly apply to the treatment programs. And, using technology, we can say without question if they’re progressing or not, instead of relying on opinion.”
The local therapists utilize that hard data to develop faster discharge programs for patients. The reason that’s important, Davis said, is that insurance companies typically only pay for three months of rehab for something like an ACL injury. The researcher-suggested rehab time before an athlete makes a return to the field or court? Around 12 to 18 months.
With the use of technology, the results the practice usually saw at six months are now being seen closer to four months.
As strong of an argument as its health tech-fueled business might be making, the use of this approach in New Jersey is very limited, Davis said.
“One of the things that bothers me the most is that it’s hard to facilitate change within an industry, because of the time it might take to adapt to new ways of doing things,” she said. “And there’s also a cost associated with it — one that not many clinicians or companies are going to front-load.”
She also admits there’s “a lot of gimmicky stuff” in the health tech space. She believes she’s doing the heavy lifting required to find out what’s truly legitimate — all in the service, she’ll reiterate, of reducing the risk of injury (and repeat injuries) in youth sports in the state.
“That’s one of the things I pride myself on,” she said. “The practice has my name on it. So, reputation means a lot to me.”
The growing sports rehab company this month announced it would be doubling the size of its footprint with a new 5,000-square-foot-facility in Medford.
“So, we’re excited about that,” Davis said. “We plan on putting all these pieces together and working toward being the state’s staple return-to-sports facility.”
Reach Davis Physical Therapy and Sports Rehab at: davisptsr.com or call 609-451-5404.