Who We Are & What We Do
Athens is a town known for its progressive music, progressive thinking, and progressive healthcare. In this spirit comes Athens Therapeutics. Athens Therapeutics is a privately owned, outpatient physical therapy practice with locations in Athens and Winder, Georgia. Although Athens Therapeutics practitioners are all licensed physical therapists, we are very different from traditional physical therapy. At Athens Therapeutics we take a more “wholistic” approach to healthcare. By “wholistic” we mean we consider the “whole” person. A person’s pain or dysfunction is never as simple as an isolated breakdown of one area. Therefore, we consider the big picture of how the body functions as a “whole”. We also consider how other factors may be contributing to the problem including nutrition, mental and emotional stress, and other lifestyle issues.
Athens Therapeutics' clinicians are highly skilled manual practitioners with extensive training and continuing education. Our practitioners utilize Integrative Manual Therapy (IMT) as their primary treatment modality. This gentle manual therapy approach has proven to be an effective alternative to medications and surgery. Practioners at Athens Therapeutics combine IMT with other manual therapy approaches including manual lymph drainage, massage, acupressure and traditional physical therapy techniques. Treatment also includes a individualized therapeutic exercise program often involving aquatic therapy, yoga or pilates. Each patient receives one on one attention from a skilled clinician for a full hour session at minimum. Throughout the course of rehabilitation, therapists place a strong empasis on wellness education including nutrition , stress management, and strategies for any other lifestyle issues that adversely affects your ability to live life to the fullest.
Besides the typical physical therapy cases involving musculoskeletal pain or dysfunction, Athens Therapeutics’s approach has provided another treatment option for patients with more complex medical issues and disabilities. More and more of these cases are being referred for this type of intervention as physicians are choosing this conservative approach as an alternative to traditional drug therapies or surgery. The clinicians at Athens Therapeutics treat clients with a wide variety of problems such as chronic pain, spinal and joint pain, osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, fibromyalgia ,chronic fatigue syndrome, migraines, TMJ, orthopedic surgeries (spinal surgery and joint surgeries), women’s health issues (pregnancy, pelvic floor), repetitive stress injuries (carpal tunnel syndrome) , neurological conditions (stroke, head-injuries, balance problems), facial paralysis (Bell's palsy), cardiorespiratory problems and lymphedema. We also treat numerous pediatric conditions through our Kids First program including developmental delay, cerebral palsy, spina bifida, autism, sensory processing disorders, asthma, and many others.
At Athens Therapeutics we pride ourselves in being the local health and wellness experts. One of the goals of Athens Therapeutics is to give the community broader access to this type of natural therapeutic intervention by providing our services in an insurance-based practice. We accept and are reimbursed for our services through most commercial medical insurance policies, worker's compensation, Medicare, and Medicaid.
Our Therapeutic Approach
Our approach to rehabilitation is mulitfaceted in order to address the "whole" body and the "whole" person. To read more about each of the individual aspects of our comprehensive approach, please click on the links below:
Integrative Manual Therapy™
Integrative Manual Therapy (IMT) is the primary treatment modality utilized at Athens Therapeutics. It is a unique and effective approach to many childhood and adult conditions. Integrative Manual Therapy is a specialized form of manual therapy studied and practiced by physical therapists and many other health related professionals. Sharon Weiselfish-Giammatteo PhD, PT, IMTc developed IMT through 30 years of clinical research. With nearly two decades of successful case studies, this unique science brings long-lasting results to the challenges of rehabilitation and illness. The unique aspect of IMT is that it advances many of the traditional PT clinical paradigms. From a clinical standpoint, IMT follows the tenet that 'structure dictates function'.... we are only able to function as well as our structures will permit. Therefore, the goal is to restore structural integrity (restore joint & spinal alignment; reduce soft tissue restrictions, etc.) with gentle hands-on (manual therapy) techniques. This in turn opens the potential for improved function.
Integrative Manual Therapy utilizes an all-encompassing model of how dysfunction and symptoms manifest. Treatment is based on the Integrated Systems Approach where all the systems of the body (muscular, connective tissue, biomechanical, vascular, respiratory, immune, lymphatic, neural, visceral, etc.) are assessed and treated as needed. Clinicians are trained in specialized diagnostic techniques (Integrative Diagnostics), which evaluates the anatomy and the mechanics of the entire body in order to paint a comprehensive clinical picture of the patient. Our practitioners are trained to look beyond the overt manifestation to find the underlying origins of a client's health issues. Often ailments appearing to be obviously related to one area or system of the body are often secondary to problems from other areas and systems. This results from the body's tendency to give priority to protecting the most important systems such as the cardiovascular and central nervous system. As an example, if an influence such as mechanical stress or infection is affecting the heart or proximal vasculature (blood vessels), the body will protect this part of the cardiovascular system through spasm, restriction and compression. As a result, other less critical systems such as the shoulder girdle joint alignment and motion will be stressed. This chain of events leads to postural changes, musculoskeletal imbalance, and eventual loss of range of motion and pain. Often this is the underlying mechanism to many shoulder problems such as thoracic outlet syndrome, frozen shoulder syndrome and tendonitis. Integrative Diagnostics is extremely effective at revealing how dysfunction in one system of the body can negatively impact other systems. During therapy sessions, practitioners continually revisit the Integrative Diagnostics process in order to assess and treat the layers of a dysfunction. Utilizing this approach, practitioners are able to address the multiple structural problems that affect a client's health.
Another typical example would be a client with low back pain. Inevitably with all low back pain there is some level of structural dysfunction such as tissue restriction, disruption, and imbalance. These structural dysfunctions could have resulted from cumulative mechanical trauma or biochemical means such as toxicity, infection, or other antigenic processes. These may be present in several different types of tissues including musculoskeletal (muscle spasm, bone bruise, disc problems), vascular (artery, vein), peripheral and central nervous system (impinged nerve, spinal cord fibrosis/ stenosis), lymphatic (swollen lymph nodes, decreased lymphatic drainage), visceral (organ restrictions), fascial (connective tissue restrictions), and more. With low back pain the problem may have started with compromised tissue integrity of the urogenital system (such as with kidney stones or UTI.), abdominal and pelvic digestive organs (IBS, diverticulitis, Crohn's disease), the pelvic bowl reproductive organs (hysterectomy, endometriosis, cysts), the abdominal and/ or pelvic vasculature (abdominal aorta, inferior vena cava, iliac artery/veins, etc.) or other structures. The compromised tissue integrity eventually causes the client to use compensatory movements during activities in order to avoid further damage to these vital tissues. This begins to affect the balance of the musculoskeletal system (muscles, tendons, ligaments, vertebrae, joints, discs) and eventually results in symptoms such as pain, weakness, or loss of range of motion.
With more complex conditions such as fibromyalgia, lupus, autism, ADHD and others there is always multiple system involvement. The fundamental premise of Integrative Manual Therapy is to locate all causative factors and to utilize manual techniques to reduce restriction, compression and imbalance of these tissues. This allows for more normal physiological function in the area (i.e.: improved arterial flow, venous & lymphatic drainage, immune support, oxygenation, etc.) and thus aids in the natural healing process of the body. All techniques are non-invasive in nature and applied with gentle touch. All techniques are "indirect" in nature. This means the techniques are designed to allow the body to self correct instead of forcing a correction into the body. We are never attempting to "fix" or "cure" or "heal". The body has an amazing capacity to heal itself and the philosophy of IMT is to help the body do its own healing.
In contrast, traditional Physical Therapy usually focuses on an exercise based approach along with the use of electromedical modalities such as hot packs, electrical stimulation, and ultrasound to attain symptomatic relief. In many cases this approach will obtain a satisfactory clinical outcome. However with the more complex and challenging clients, it is often difficult to obtain success with this approach. With these types of clients, there are always significant structural dysfunctions. Without addressing and correcting some of these structural dysfunctions, progress is difficult. With IMT, these structural dysfunctions are corrected. A program of exercise and movement will then reeducate the body and integrate these structural changes. The results are improved structural integrity, which increases the potential for more normal movement and ultimately improved quality of life.
Manual Lymph Drainage
Manual Lymph Drainage (also referred to as simply MLD) is a very gentle type of massage therapy used to drain excess fluid from the body and improve the overall functioning of the lymphatic (immune) system.
MLD is most commonly used to treat Lymphedema, which is characterized by the blockage of lymph nodes in the arms and legs. MLD originated in Europe during the 1930s. It was first used on patients as an effective way to detoxify (ridding of waste) the body. Today, MLD is still used as a way to improve the inner workings of the lymphatic system. The massage is applied gently in the direction of lymph flow in order to unblock any obstructed lymph vessels, and allow lymph flow to transport waste from the body freely.
MLD massage is performed by a certified MLD massage therapist, who applies a light form of circular massage to their patient’s skin. MLD massage is applied in gentle strokes towards the heart. This technique will lightly stretch the walls of the lymph vessels and encourage lymph drainage.
Functional rehabilitation through therapeutic exercise and movement therapy is an essential component of our comprehensive approach to wellness. After structural corrections in the body are achieved with Manual Therapy, different forms of therapeutic exercise and movement therapy are used to help integrate these changes. Patients are issued an individually designed home exercise program to help improve strength, flexibility, balance and stability. Patients are often guided through exercise and movement as part of their therapy session in the clinic. Yoga and Pilates are forms of therapeutic exercise which are often incorporated into a patient's treatment plan. Yoga and Pilates are unique and invigorating forms of therapeutic exercise that integrates movement, breathing, and body/mind awareness. They are amazing tools for integrating the structural corrections and facilitating normal movement. The overall goal for any patient is for them to be able to perform daily activities with more mobility, less stress, and decreased fatigue. Therapeutic exercise and other forms of movement therapy contribute immeasurably towards achieving this goal.
Through our relationship with the YWCO, Athens Therapeutics patients have the ability to perform exercises in a heated pool under the guidance of a skilled therapist. Aquatic Therapy is often part of a patient's treatment program when traditional exercise is either too difficult or too painful due to arthritic, neurological or other conditions.
Aquatic therapy uses the physical properties of water to assist in patient healing and exercise performance. One benefit of aquatic therapy is the buoyancy provided by the water. While submerged in water, buoyancy assists in supporting the weight of the patient. This decreases the amount of weight bearing which reduces the force of stress placed on the joints. This aspect of aquatic therapy is especially useful for patients with arthritis, healing fractured bones, or who are overweight. By decreasing the amount of joint stress it is easier and less painful to perform exercises.
The viscosity of water provides an excellent source of resistance that can be easily incorporated into an aquatic therapy exercise program. This resistance allows for muscle strengthening without the need of weights. Using resistance coupled with the water’s buoyancy allows a person to strengthen muscle groups with decreased joint stress that can not be experienced on land.
Furthermore, the warmth of the water experienced during aquatic therapy assists in relaxing muscles and vasodilates vessels, increasing blood flow to injured areas. Patients with muscle spasms, back pain, and fibromyalgia find this aspect of aquatic therapy especially therapeutic.
Proper nutrition and supplementation are essential components of health and wellness. Good nutrition will improve the body's physiology and significantly speed up the recovery process. Our therapists are highly educated in the field of diet and nutrition. Although our nutritional education programs are not a substitute for professional dietary counseling, general nutritional education is often part of a patient's treatment process. Therapists strive to inform our patients on balanced nutrition, simple diet modifications (such as increasing or eliminating certain foods) and other general nutritional issues. Often these simple dietary changes can yield amazing results for many conditions such as low back pain, allergies, digestive issues, behavioral issues such as ADHD, and more. In addition to diet, supplementation is another excellent way to help improve the body's physiology and to speed up the recovery process. Although Athens Therapeutics practioners do not specifically prescribe nutritional supplements, they can provide general information about the role of nutritional supplementation. For those patients who are knowledgeable about the use of nutritional supplements, and are seeking the highest quality nutritional supplements, these products are available for order at Athens Therapeutics. An extensive variety of nutritional supplements are available through our accounts with several nutritional manufacturers who only distribute through health care providers. These include products from such reputable company such as Metagenics, Standard Process and Seroyal.
Often physical symptoms are compounded by emotional and mental stress and a hectic lifestyle that does not allow time to 'regroup'. Patients will be empowered with simple and effective tools to help identify and manage the stress in their everyday lives. Simple strategies to help manage stress can expedite the recovery process remarkably. As part of their treatment program, patients will be educated on stress management techniques such as imagery, breathing and other relaxation methods. For patients who wish to practice these stress management techniques outside of their physical therapy treatment, we also offer Therapeutic Meditation Groups.
Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day....teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime. This axiom is paramount in healthcare. One of the chief goals of our physical therapy program is to empower our patients with the knowledge and tools to make better decisions about their health and wellness. This sort of education on health and well-being is dispensed within a patient's treatment session and in formal settings such as our Community Wellness Evenings and Parenting Support Groups. Community Wellness Evenings include discussion and education on a wide variety of health related topics including physical health (nutrition, exercise, body mechanics), non-physical health (lifestyle issues, attitudes and outlooks, emotional, mental and spiritual health) and exposure to different therapeutic interventions (complementary and alternative medicines). The Parenting Support Group is an open forum for sharing ideas and strategies on parenting while also learning ways to improve your communication with your child .