Joseph Sullivan said he has seen a graying but growing population still eager to exercise since he decided to open his first Peak Performance location in 1989.
Now, more than 20 years later, Sullivan oversees a growing chain of four physical treatment centers including a location in New Hyde Park that will celebrate its 10th anniversary in the fall.
“I think there’s an increased realization of the need for physical therapy,” Sullivan said. “We’re on the edge of a very aging, active population.”
Sullivan said the growing number of older but still active patients has prompted a need to address dizziness problems and therapy joint replacements, with hip and knee replacement increasingly common.
“Surgical procedures have evolved. Therapeutic procedures have evolved,” he said.
Typically, in a given week the five physical therapists in the New Hyde Park center treat 300 patients, according to Maria Ponzio, Peak Performance’s marketing director.
The New Hyde Park center features a pool for aquatic therapy, which reduces stress on patients’ limbs, and treatment tables in its exercise room, where clients also work out as part of weight-loss programs.
Each patient is treated by a physical therapist, a physical therapy assistant and an aide.
“We make sure everyone’s always attended,” Ponzio said.
Ponzio said that while Peak Performance has benefitted from the growing number of people staying active longer Peak Performance’s patients begin as young as seven years old and go all the way up to 97 years old.
Peak Performance, she said, draws patients from doctors affiliated with the LIJ-North Shore Hospital system, Winthrop University Hospital and through its affiliation with the Hospital for Special Surgery in Manhattan.
“We get patients from different areas,” Ponzio said. “We get a lot of young athletes who’ve injured themselves in sports. And we get patients on Medicare.”
Sullivan said the growth in women’s scholastic sports over the past 15 has also prompted a rise in the number of prospective patients seeking treatment.
“Girls are participating more frequently and more competitively in sports,” he said.
Most of the Peak Performance
clients in New Hyde Park and the other centers are referred for treatment by orthopedists. As doctors have increasingly recognized the value of physical therapy for their patients, Sullivan said, the field has gained more credibility.
“Overall, the field has been more recognized, especially as far as post-operative care is concerned as physicians have realized the need for post-operative care,” Sullivan said.
Sullivan encourages his staff members to acquire advanced therapeutic training.
He himself earned advanced certification as an orthopedic clinical specialist in 1999 as well as certification from the Hospital for Special Surgery as an advanced hip clinician three years ago.
Apart from the sheer numbers of patients seeking treatment, Sullivan attributes the expansion of Peak Performance’s client base to the quality of treatment it offers.
“We’ve earned a good reputation in the community and with the physicians who refer,” he said.
Sullivan was working as a physical therapist at North Shore University Hospital in Manhasset when he decided to open the first Peak Performance in Lynbrook in 1989. At the time, Sullivan was also completing his bachelor’s degree in physical therapy at Stony Brook University.
“I always had an eye on orthopedic and sports physical therapy. And there was a need,” he said.
At that time, he said, the primary focus was on post-operative care.
“In the beginning, it was more of a general practice. We had a very wide spectrum of orthopedic conditions,” he recalled.
In the intervening years, his practice in Lynbrook expanded and relocated twice. After opening the New Hyde Park location, he then opened in Island Park and Wantagh.
Sullivan also has two other physical therapists, Glenn Granzin and John Finnernan, who have joined him as partners in the business.
More information about the programs Peak Performance offers is available on its Web site at http://peakptfit.com/. Prospective patients can also contact the New Hyde Park center by phone at 516-326-0793.