New physical therapy practice seeks to help patients at all stages of life,

Published 3:00 am Friday, July 1, 2016

Dr. Stephen Greer, manager and lead physical therapist at Health Actions of Troy.

Dr. Stephen Greer, manager and lead physical therapist at Health Actions of Troy.

Debbie Powell and Beth Whitehead founded Health Actions Physical Therapy in 1981 in Jackson, Alabama. Since then, the company has expanded to five locations around Alabama, with the most recent center landing right here in Troy.

Stephen Greer, manager and lead physical therapist at Health Actions of Troy, talked about misconceptions that people have about physical therapy.

“In my experience, people tend to think that physical therapy is just for old people or for after surgery,” he said. “People also think that it’s really painful and that it’s something they could do themselves at home.”

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Greer broke down the issues with each of those misconceptions.

“We treat all age ranges, from babies all the way up through life,” he said. “Middle-aged people deal with headaches and other pain and get left to the wayside because they never knew we could help with that. We also don’t just work with post-surgery patients. We want to work with patients to avoid surgery or even prepare for an upcoming surgery.”

Pain isn’t always avoidable, Greer said, but his team can usually get away with pain-free therapy. “Pain says to the brain ‘that movement is bad.’ So we do everything we can to minimize pain, not just to help the immediate pain level of the patient, but also to help accelerate their recovery.”

Greer said that physical therapy isn’t something that people should try to do themselves at home, because they may not fully understand what they need.

“We’re like coaches,” he said. “We need to be there to see if you’re doing something less efficiently then you could be and to teach you what you need to do.”

Some people also think of physical therapy as just exercise, but Greer said it goes much further then that.

“We have a four-phase treatment plan here,” he said. “Our first phase is to control pain. Next, we work on restoring motor control. The third phase is to strengthen the problem area.” The fourth phase, fitness and wellness, isn’t currently integrated into Health Actions of Troy, but could be in the future. Until then, Greer encourages patients to participate in fitness and wellness programs outside of the center.

Greer said that Health Actions therapists are movement specialists that heavily focus on manual-based physical therapy, which means that their treatments heavily involve working with their hands.

“We do a lot of manual therapy,” he said, “such as soft tissue massage, joint-mobilization, spine and quite a bit of shoulders.”

Greer grew up in the Birmingham area and attended the University of Alabama before going to Jackson to start his career with Health Actions. “That was a real culture shock moving to such a small town after living in Birmingham for most of my life,” he said. He later moved to Grove Hill to become the manager of that Health Actions facility before finally winding up in Troy to lead its center. It’s not quite Tuscaloosa, but Greer said the feeling of being in a college town does make it more familiar.

Health Actions offers free screenings. To see if you’d be suitable for physical therapy, you can call Health Actions at 334-670-5435 or walk in to schedule a screening. Health Actions is located at 1018 S. Brundidge St. It is open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Thursday, and is open from 7 a.m. to noon on Fridays.