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McGowan specializes in Pilates-focused physical therapy

October 15, 2010

Photo by Becky Polaski Sherron McGowan, physical therapist, orthopedic clinical specialist and certified Pilates instructor, recently opened Phoenix Rehabilitation and Health Services, Inc. McGowan, right, is shown instructing Kerry Hillebrand, left, in the use of the Pilates reformer.

Area residents in need of physical therapy now have a new option for meeting their rehabilitation needs.
Phoenix Rehabilitation and Health Services, Inc., which specializes in physical therapy with Pilates-focused techniques, opened at 425 Old Kersey Rd. next to the Red Fern at the beginning of September. The business is under the direction of Sherron McGowan, a physical therapist, orthopedic clinical specialist and certified Pilates instructor.
"Pilates is a whole method of exercise that was developed by Joseph Pilates in the 1920s, and it really focuses on the core muscles of the body and also getting people to move with more ease," McGowan said.
Much of the rehab done by McGowan focuses on using a Pilates reformer, which is a piece of equipment invented by Joseph Pilates.
"It's based on spring tension," McGowan explained. "The reformer puts you in the perfect alignment to work on whatever kind of problem that you have."
McGowan noted that the reformer works for all body types and sizes and she added that so far she has been hearing positive feedback from all who have tried it.
McGowan has been a physical therapist for the past 20 years and noted that Pilates-focused techniques for rehabilitation only recently started to gain popularity.
"I started doing Pilates about five years ago, and then I went to a course and went to more training. Over the course of that time, I found that there is this whole subset of physical therapists who just use Pilates-based [techniques] in their rehab. It's nice because we (can) get somebody strong, and then we get them on a home exercise program and off they go on their merry way, hopefully healed up," McGowan said.
While it remains to be seen if using Pilates results in a quicker recovery time, McGowan explained that the method is unique in that it does not cause a person any pain.
"We're getting some pretty good results, which is nice, and there is a lot of studying being done on it," McGowan said.
She added that she is currently working toward a Ph.D. and plans to focus her dissertation on the effects of certain types of Pilates exercises on recovery.
"I haven't started into the actual dissertation phase, but I will be collecting data, probably sometime within the next year or year and a half. [People will] know that they're in the study because they're going to have to sign the informed consent and everything," McGowan said.
McGowan explained that her involvement with Pilates-focused therapy techniques has required a considerable amount of training. There are six levels of Pilates training; McGowan is currently at level three and is scheduled for level four training in November.
"The reason that we're PTs and the reason that we're in this business is to help people feel better and get well from injuries, and then continue to feel healthy in their body so that they can continue on with their life and have no pain, no disability. So when we can add something like this that gets pretty good results, it's a nice blend," McGowan said.
Prior to opening Phoenix Rehabilitation and Health Services, Inc., McGowan held physical therapy sessions at Ferragine Spas and Pools - Sun Center on Haller Road and still currently holds a mat class at that location.
McGowan said one of the biggest changes with moving to her own business location is the ability to accept insurance from all plans.
"I'm glad that we can take all insurances now because that means that we're able to help more people," McGowan said.
In addition to physical therapy, McGowan also performs instruction in Pilates for general fitness as well. The typical session time for fitness-based Pilates is about an hour, while for physical therapy, each session is tailored to specific needs of each individual.
"We set up their goals and we just have to work to meet those goals each session time. Most people are here for an hour to an hour and fifteen minutes or so," McGowan said.
McGowan offers flexible hours for session appointments. She noted that new patients are always welcome and there is no waiting list. A free consultation to aid in managing pain, restoring balance, improving mobility or preventing injury can be scheduled by contacting McGowan at 814-834-1990.

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