By Shell Lessen

Big Bear Lake, California obviously does not measure up in size to the monstrous metropolis of nearby Los Angeles. But it’s a giant of joy for many disabled people who find kindness, understanding and fun, while learning ways to cope with very serious physical problems.

Making this all happen since 1983 is the United States Adaptive Recreation Center at Big Bear.

For the fun of it

USARC provides outdoor recreation activities winter and summer. Each program is laid out and operated by trained full-time experts as well as highly skilled volunteers. They work with injured men, wounded warriors and women as well as children of all ages. The results are often remarkable.

For example, one volunteer ski instructor has taught USARC visitors in need for 21 years and has been a member of The Professional Ski Instructors of America just as long. His name is Ray LoCascio.

A dream come true

Among Ray’s many successes is the work he has done with a determined teenage girl fighting ambulatory disability while setting her hopes on earning a degree in child development. Not only did hope become reality along the way, she became a star pupil on the ski slopes of Bear Mountain Resort.

As Ray sees it, “this girl’s achievements are the result of training based on aid and instruction given individually to children and adults at USARC. Moreover, we urge them to practice their chosen activity with maximum strength.”

“When following these suggestions, chances are better in winter or summer that they will find themselves enjoying what they’re doing beyond expectations. With an attitude this positive, the skier or anyone else in training here often begins to feel that “if I can do this, I can do anything.”

Take your pick

“That word-‘anything’ at USARC also stands for the fact that a wide variety of health-promoting activities are available. They range from Bi-skiing for beginners, to out rigging, jet skiing, paddle boarding as well as warm-weather sailing, fishing, and kayaking.”

Among this past winter’s visitors Ray and fellow instructors welcomed a number of skiers who were faced with giving up the sport completely.

Vicious enemies

They suffer this sad situation because they have extremely serious disabilities in the class of Brain and Spinal cord injuries, Cerebral Palsy and Multiple Sclerosis.

Yet there is reason for hope. Good reason. To support the battle against these and other misfortunes this past winter, Ray volunteered to teach USARC trainers the in’s and outs of working with Sit Ski.

Why pay particular attention to Sit Ski equipment?

Why not?

Sit Ski includes a specially designed bucket seat that is suspended above either one or two skis. Due to this exceptional Sit Ski arrangement, most impaired skiers are able to make vital accurate turns using the upper body. This puts skiing in sight for many and gives satisfaction to Ray LoCascio.

Surprise Surprise

Ray is a man who in his own words grew up wanting to be of help regularly to people in need but lacking enough self-confidence to give it a try. “It wasn’t until I entered California State Fullerton University that I began to gain confidence,” he explained.

After graduation he took his first steps toward guiding others closer to better lives. He discovered Hypnosis.

Having chosen his ideal career, Ray went to work, determined to convert the dreams and words to action and satisfaction.

Today Ray LoCascio C.Ht. heads a thriving private practice of hypnotherapy.

Many ask what is Hypnosis?

According to Merriam-Webster Dictionary, hypnotherapy is “a trans-like state of altered consciousness that resembles sleep but is induced by a person whose suggestions are readily accepted by the subject or any conditions that resemble sleep.”

Problems range from fear of flying, sleeping problems and weight management… to lowering anesthesia and pain medication requirements… which can frequently shorten and reduce discomfort time and their need for drugs.

How does Ray fit in?

“I am here to help those who need to learn to relax, change unwanted habits, build self-esteem and achieve their goals, while enabling them to enjoy and experience life without unnecessary challenges.”

Missions accomplished!




By Shell Lessen

Kinesiology is the study of human movement. Emily Shigenaga is a study in compassion, dedication and enthusiasm. She also has a Bachelor’s Degree of Science in Kinesiology, Exercise Science.

It’s a mix that adds up to a marvelous mission, centered at California State University, Northridge.

As a CSUN undergraduate, Emily joined an organization named at that time 100 Citizens. This highly active campus organization is now known as “3 Wins Fitness”. It maintains the tradition of improving the health of its program participants living in under served Southern California areas.

Their efforts focus on providing outdoor fitness programs that create healthier environments where needed. All facilities are community-based, replicable and open to the public at no charge.

Help for all who need it

3 Wins Fitness programs are operated by CSUN students working as either volunteers or interns. Interning not only presents an opportunity to help people in need, student interns are eligible to receive units awarded by the university as well.

“I’m proud to report that we have already improved the health of people at a number of locations. Unfortunately needy forgotten places are not only in Southern California. They are nationwide,” she added.

Emily also pointed to a statistic that sums up the seriousness of the situation. Studies show that physical inactivity is the 4th leading risk factor of premature death in the United States.

Regular exercise can go a long way toward reducing that number, the experts tell us. For example, it has been proved that well-planned outdoor workouts can prevent weight gain, provide an emotional lift, boost energy as well as promote better sleep. And the list goes on.

Benefits for all

As far as Emily is concerned, 3 Wins Fitness is a solution to improving public health. Its program is needed across the nation, she noted.

While praising what she calls “the powerful benefits from exercise,” Emily also listed some personal advantages that are enjoyed by the CSUN students working with 3 Wins Fitness.

For one thing, they rarely, if ever, get out of the classroom and into an on-the-spot experience within the program of their degree. Now they can study and SEE their goals at any of six parks and the Senior Exercise Group.

Extra good news

Moreover, CSUN students gain leadership skills as well as enriching personal growth, while people grieving in under-served communities receive vital service.

And Emily’s association with 3 Wins Fitness assured her of a platform from which she was able to express her desire to make certain changes in the development and delivery of additional public health programs.

She maintained her relationship with what was then called 100 Citizens for three of the five years in her undergraduate career. And having joined the organization in the middle of her career, she remained active beyond graduation from CSUN.

It seems like yesterday

Emily now leaves behind a series of well-planned programs in the hands of knowledgeable students who take the time to explain and demonstrate each exercise. Their primary goal is to make sure the proper form and techniques are used correctly.

Exercise programs are designed around a structured agenda created by the Program Director. At the beginning of the session instructors lead participants in a warm-up. And they demonstrate every exercise during the warm-up period.

Next comes instruction in specific exercises, after which the participants take over. While they huff and puff students walk among them to make sure all is well. A special cool-down session ends the show.

It’s actually a double feature with a workout script written particularly for older people, along with one for the younger generation.

Two for the money

Known as The Senior Exercise Group, it serves elders 65 years and up. “However, we frequently get adults younger than 65 interested in our program. They are attracted to all the fun our program participants have,” according to Emily.

And Emily should know. She was in charge of The Senior Exercise Group for well over a year.

This popular program is the only one of its kind among the six CSUN parks in Southern California. All six are designed to get  people actively associated in a social environment. “Needless to say this is a program close to my heart,” Emily said.

“My responsibilities include making sure the program runs safely, catering to the needs of our participants and insuring student growth and leadership,” Emily pointed out. “My main objective was to provide a learning environment for both student volunteers, interns and our participants.”

For the fun of it all, The Senior Exercise Group offers an extensive collection of fitness equipment including weights and handballs along with resistance bands, battle ropes and small beanbags.

Emily wrapped up her story on a happy and hopeful note declaring that “it has been a gratifying and humbling opportunity to watch grandmothers get on the floor to exercise for the first time in years. Or be told “My doctor took me off my medications because I exercise consistently.”

Mission accomplished!


By Shell Lessen

Vince Von’s career was decided in childhood. He would not have had it any other way.

The story began in Clovis, New Mexico, a small town just west of the Texas border. The Von family took up residence there after leaving their life-long home in the nation of Laos to become citizens of the United States.

Vince, who was 3 years old when they arrived, attended elementary, junior and senior high schools in Clovis. And when he was old enough he mastered three additional subjects that his schoolmates never had to face.

They were:

*Making sure the entire family, consisting of his grandmother and parents, regularly fulfilled their doctors’ appointments. Vince was only in grade school when he took on this very important chore.

*Interacting with doctors and all others involved in the family’s health issues. The objective was to maintain the most beneficial medical program possible.

*Translating to English the family’s traditional Tai-Ka dai language which is closely related to Thailand’s tongue. Vince would then revert back to Tai-Ka dai to complete a conversations between family members and others.

‘These three “subjects” plus the years spent at Clovis’ schools provided Vince with what might be described as an education within an education at no extra cost. It was made to order for Vince, a student determined to carve out a rewarding future of his own making.

Time well spent

As for that second education, he explained that “I didn’t realize at the time that the hours I put in with so many different doctors and their allied staffs– in addition to caring for my family–fed a desire that had been in my mind since grade school.

Then as now, I had wanted to be in a position to help people suffering with serious health problems like cancer. The more serious the cases were, the more I wanted to do my best as a member of the medical profession.”

A happy bachelor

Fourteen years ago this benign dream began to give way to reality. Vince earned his Bachelor Degree in radiation therapy. He graduated from the University of Arkansas For Medical Sciences in Little Rock. UAMS is the largest academic health center in the state of Arkansas.

It is also 1,482.8 miles east of Beverly Hills, California, site of The Center for Radiation Therapy of Beverly Hills where Vince has worked for the last eight years.

Selecting a winner

What drew him all the way to The Golden State?

Plenty, as Vince saw it.

For starters, he pointed out that “the Center’s staff is outstanding. It consists of four eminent board-certified oncologists and cancer specialists, as well as an oncology nurse, a physicist and, of course, radiation therapists.

“Their equipment is state- of -the- art, providing the latest technology and a superior radiation treatment plan for most cancers. Also, radiation dosimeters are available to precisely measure radiation exposure and doses.

Only the best will do

“In addition, three first-rate machines are in operation at the center. One is for treatment planning only and the other two deliver radiation for treatment. We also work with imaging and guidance equipment to ensure accurate positioning and tumor targeting,’’ he explained.

Vince’s chief responsibility is to deliver prescribed treatment daily and make sure the plan is properly executed.

To say the least, he became quite thoughtful when asked what character traits he believes a student would need to carry out the duties of a radiation therapist.

Those who make the grade

His reply was “She or he must have compassion, and in my opinion, they should also be detail-oriented, computer-literate, a problem-solver and have a positive outlook on life.

He was quick to point out that the first and last traits named are specially important “because, in many cases, they can bring hope to patients who need it as much as medication.”

A sense of humor is another trait, not required but definitely welcome, at The Center For Radiation Therapy. Most of the patients have one—and they come in various types. For example, some “Haves” smile frequently. Others whistle loud or soft music. Then there are “Haves” who tell all kinds of jokes. “You can spot them right away. And these patients often perk the others up.

Vince to the rescue

Then there are the “Have-nots.” Quiet, pessimistic, worried. Vince has dedicated part of his job to keeping the “Haves” happy and turn sad “Have-Nots” into “Haves.”

He definitely is the man to do it!

Friendly, smiley, optimistic, good-looking Vince Von is also the first citizen of another planet ever to visit Earth. At least that’s the running gag he tries to get his patients to go along with– in hopes that cancer talk and cancer thoughts can be pushed aside and forgotten for a while.

Just imagine making small talk about the heavy traffic in L.A or the Dodgers’ latest victory or the smog with someone (or some thing) whose home is a planet named REINIER billions of miles away.

Vince Von can…with a smile.


By Shell Lessen

“Arabesque” and “pirouette” were not the first words uttered by Ali Elder in her infancy. But if they were, it wouldn’t have been surprising. After all, Ali grew up practicing ballet and was exposed to its terminology almost from day one.

Along with developing lasting love for ballet, as she matured, Ali became fascinated by the intricate positions the body can attain when properly trained for ballet and exercises in general.

In fact, there was a time when her interest in body movements was so intense that when performing in ballet dance classes she would forget the next step.

A deep thinker

Ali attributes this to the fact that “my mind was off somewhere thinking about how amazing it is that our bodies are capable of mastering dancing’s most difficult positions and movements. I was also extremely interested in the forces that differentiate every dancer’s movement.”

In time, of course, the habit of overlooking steps disappeared, buried under countless hours of work that lifted Ali’s performance to the level of a professional—while she was still in high school. Handling the daily demands of school plus the pressures of professional dancing appearances was far from easy. Nevertheless, she excelled in both.

Meeting the challenge

Ditto excellence at her next stop as well: California State University at Long Beach and its unique Dance Science course.

Ali explained that CSULB required a dance audition to qualify for its program. But also essential were physical science classes including such subjects as anatomy and physics. They may be appropriate for science majors, but they were big bad barriers for liberal arts dancing students. Reason: most of them had little or no interest or experience in these fields of physical science.

Ali, however, was quite willing to take on whatever CSULB had to offer in the way of requirements. The word “can’t” simply is not in her vocabulary. “DETERMINED” is, in capital letters.

A professor’s happy helper

In spite of her busy and challenging schedule at CSULB she somehow found time to serve as an assistant to the renowned Professor Karen Clippinger. She was assigned to the professor’s Body Placement and Anatomy for Dancers Classes.

Professor Clippinger is known worldwide for her lifelong work on application of scientific principles to alignment and movement performance while lowering injury risk.

She has given more than 400 presentations in Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, Canada, and Europe and worked with the Joffrey Ballet Dance Company, and Pacific Northwest Ballet among others throughout the United States. In addition, much of her writing has been translated into eight languages throughout Europe and Asia.

Nothing but the best

“Assisting Professor Clippinger was a great honor and pleasure,” Ali said. “In a sense, my CSULB career was launched in her classes that teach body placement and anatomy for dancers.”

Ali added that “working between semesters, I also earned my Body Arts and Science Pilates certification from Professor Clippinger.

“Most important was that I came to realize studying movement and its application in the form of the Pilates physical fitness system made me want to be the best trained physical therapist possible.”

And the best wanted her.

In 2012 she was accepted by USC’S number one ranked physical therapy school in America.

Discovering one of a kind

While at USC, she spent an internship at re+active physical therapy and services in Los Angeles, a company specializing in outpatient neurologic physical therapy. “And I found it to be extremely forward-looking,” she noted.

Her observation was on target. For example, when she arrived, re+active was in the process of setting up the very first movement disorders fellowship program serving physical therapists anywhere. The project was undertaken jointly with the Movement Disorders Clinic of UCLA.

It is specially designed to provide individualized training involving treatment of Parkinson’s diseases and syndromes, plus Huntington as well as other genetic diseases. The team of UCLA and re+active bases its one of-a-kind service on the particular interests and goals of entering fellows.

Founded in 2011, re+active is one of the few outpatient neurologic physical therapy facilities in operation. Its staff includes four physical therapists, along with a part time occupational therapist. Available weekly are wellness classes for voice, yoga and skilled-based training instruction.

On the job

In May of 2015 Ali graduated and went to work full time at re+active, having earned a doctorate in physical therapy. In addition, she was named the first Movement Disorders Fellow.

With this honor comes the opportunity to attend numerous educational courses, observe experts in the field of movement disorders, and speak at community events focusing on the benefits of physical activity.

Ali Elder has been cited for a number of outstanding achievements since those high school/professional ballet days.

But when asked to name the most gratifying honor of all, she answered: “seeing creativity applied and progress achieved with our clients in a very short period of time, and being part of it all.”

An answer to be expected.




His name is Israel Bick. Occupation: collectibles, mainly postage stamps and coins. Israel has been buying and selling stamps to collectors since junior high school days in the early 1950s.

Those years are remembered in elderly circles today as the time when stamp collecting was the number one hobby of young and old.

“Practically every kid I knew collected stamps, for good reasons,” Israel recalled. “It was an inexpensive hobby, fun and fascinating.

A learning experience

“Without realizing it, we were also receiving history and geography lessons while enjoying one of the most popular pastimes in the world.

“Collectors everywhere were being introduced to famous individuals. Their accomplishments were recognized too. Stamps also briefed us on historical events and current activities of countless countries. It all broadened our knowledge and understanding of the world around us,” declared this budding Bronx businessman.

For readers unfamiliar with the word “Bronx,” it is the name of a borough in that famous five-borough eastern city which guarantees that if you can make it there, “you’ll make it anywhere.’’

To young Mr. Bick Bronx, New York was home. “Making it there” meant selling enough stamps to earn a few dollars that would somewhat ease the grinding burden of near-poverty that plagued his family.

Heading for success

The most meaningful enterprise in his life during those hard times was getting good grades. The Bick family rightly considered this essential on the way to success no matter what career Israel chose. Fortunately A’s and B’s came regularly from junior high through four years at Yeshiva University in the Big Apple.

There he not only sold stamps to students. A number of university professors became regular customers as well. “This led me to believe that if the demand for what I was selling remained strong and steady among students plus their professors, stamp collecting would probably continue as a habit of many graduates along with others in the adult world.”

Student-teacher support plus a short but growing list of direct mail customers promised at least a steady cash flow in the near future.

Encouraged by what he saw as probable assurance of security, Israel founded Bick International immediately after graduation. It was largely a mail order operation. And its Founder/President was well aware that “we were nowhere near competing with the giant mail operations of the industry. But business was steady. We were also building a name for ourselves nationally via mailings.”

Putting the country first

In a sense, Bick International was a pioneer venture as well as a business with a bright future. From 1961 to ’63 it was run by a woman— very much a rarity in those days. Israel’s sister, Lorraine, took charge while her brother served a two-year stint in the Army. Upon his return to civilian life, the boss happily announced, “Lorraine did a terrific job in The Bronx. Our company is in great shape”

He also declared that “as far as I was concerned, we made it in New York and had an excellent opportunity to expand if we set up shop in Southern California. The area was booming, especially Los Angeles.”

The move west not only boosted business. It provided an opportunity for Bick International to reach new regional markets through recurring attendance at prestigious coin, stamp and collectible shows. “Show appearances have played a key role in the growth of our company,” Bick explained.

“The most current example of this is our appearance every two months at the Hotel Orleans in Los Vegas. A selection of our choice items are on display, and for the most part serious collectors attend this stamp and collectibles showing,” he added.

End of an era

On that note, we conclude our look at what might be considered stamp collecting’s bright side. Unfortunately there is darkness to spare, while postage stamps as a hobby steadily fade into history.

Linn’s Stamp News, the industry’s leading publication, sums up the story by the numbers. An LSM study reveals that approximately five million Americans, averaging 72 years old, now collect postage stamps. Virtually no new young collectors are joining them to sustain the hobby. “Those who do collect are well-to-do senior citizens, searching for rare high-value investment stamps.”

Similar situations are evident worldwide, according to a Wall Street Journal report in 2013. It put the number of stamp collectors on the entire planet at only about 60 million.

“In short, stamp collecting is clearly at rock bottom and has been there for quite some time. Active collectors are largely well-to-do seniors,” according to Bick.

What caused this fall from the top?

Bick pointed out that collectors began to lose interest with the end of World War 2 and the appearance of new, action-packed mechanical and electric toys and games. The final blow was the computer era.

Unbeatable competition

Very few if any 21st Century hobbyists would be satisfied quietly collecting little colored pieces of paper representing nations around the world. Their kicks come from playing and collecting fast-moving games set in thrilling, life-like worlds of their own, featuring daredevil adventures, athletic competition, outer space discoveries.

These and countless other games make up a steady flow of new and remarkably inventive designs to chose from.

In their own way, members of the world’s dwindling bands of stamp collectors are quite possibly as enthusiastic as today’s game-players. Many may happily share moments of the past filled with fun and friendships that came from trading stamps with other collectors. Or they may enjoy browsing through the old stamp album and letting the moments come to them as they turn page after page, traveling the planet.

Whatever they are up to is pure pleasure.

Just ask Israel Bick.


“Cute, huggable teddy bears in a court of law! Is that really appropriate?” I asked.

The question came up while interviewing the subject of this blog. “Absolutely,” she replied. “Things run more smoothly when teddy bears are available in Juvenile Dependency Court,” declared Nancy Rabin Brucker, Esq., a vigorous, very much involved attorney specializing in California juvenile dependency law.

Juvenile dependency law deals with allegations of abuse or neglect of children investigated by the Department of Children and Family Services.

It seems that hugging a teddy bear brings on a feeling of security in these children who must attend courtroom proceedings, particularly the first-timers. Without a familiar Teddy they tend to become quite uncomfortable among such strange unknown surroundings.

Supplying this welcomed gift is a charity known as Comfort For Court Kids. “CCK provides free, friendly teddy bears for one and all,” Nancy explained.

Someone to count on

The kids may not realize it, but Nancy herself ranks high on the list of their good friends, right up there with the teddies. Caring about—and caring for—children have always been imperative “to do’s” in her life. So it comes as no surprise that she is a founding member and longtime supporter of Comfort for Court Kids.

Also, close-up caring has made this devoted re-married divorcee well versed in the ways of children. She has raised three of her own, on her own.

Adding to her understanding of child-family relations and problems are over 31 years of representing parents, foster parents and relatives in juvenile dependency cases. She has also represented youngsters in family law matters. Above all, Nancy has dedicated herself to keeping the families she serves together.

Searching for satisfaction

That’s quite a remarkable resume’ for someone who had no interest in becoming a lawyer for quite a while after graduating from high school. Nor did she jump with joy at the opportunity to be one of the many college-bound girls of the 50’s who registered for courses leading to a teaching career. Teaching was considered “The Career” for girls in those days.

Despite her anti-teacher feelings, she decided to give the pre-teaching program a try and joined the crowd at UCLA for a while. Then quit. She did take a job as a legal secretary. As Nancy sees it “the profession itself interested me. Being a part of it just didn’t appeal to me.”

Years later Nancy took advantage of a UCLA program designed to determine whether or not she had the skills to pursue a law career. The results were positive.

“One reason why I was drawn to the law was the fact that a brother of mine, whom I greatly admired, was a lawyer deriving much happiness and personal satisfaction from his work. He enjoyed the kind of payback I was looking for in a career. Ironically my brother died at the age of 35.

On the right path

In 1977 she finally took a step toward the Bar by enrolling in the University of West Los Angeles Law School—still without actually practicing law in mind. “You might say I did it mainly to have something worthwhile to do. Nothing more,” Nancy stated.

That “something” turned into a serious interest in the law, which blossomed into graduating with high honors; passing the bar the first time around; and subsequently launching a private practice.

The private practice part of her transformation was the only alternative. Jobs at most law firms were rarely open to inexperienced family law practitioners. That, at this point, defined Nancy’s professional life to a T.

A can-do lawyer

Without doubt, going it alone was the right decision. It was the key to the opening chapter of a success story. During the next 12 years the practice grew steadily. So did the question of its identity. The end of that period was Decision Time.

Nancy’s practice included both family law and juvenile dependency. To be determined was: should Nancy Rabin Brucker Esq. continue to practice in both areas or was Juvenile Dependency where it could do the most good, bringing maximum satisfaction to its CEO?

On this issue, as in so many others, Nancy chalked up one more wise decision. Juvenile Dependency won out, as did countless Los Angeles area families with legal problems—then and now.

But skillful management of her law firm is only part of Nancy’s success story. She also serves as an appellate attorney, receiving court appointments from the Court Of Appeal for indigent parents in juvenile dependencies.

This is in addition to representing parents, foster parents and relatives in the trial courts.

Finally, she has been a consultant for “California Juvenile Dependency Practice,” published by Continuing Education of the Bar (CEB).

Ready when needed

Clearly, Nancy’s record of service is remarkably extensive. For many people its most meaningful commitment is a pledge that all clients will have ready access to her around the clock.

To assure service, each client is given Nancy’s cell phone number. She thinks of this as “a teddy bear program for our clientele. It’s a service they deserve.”

Making a good thing better

According to Nancy, families involved in Juvenile Dependency cases deserve a number of other expanded services as well. And she is behind them one hundred percent. Among the most essential are:

-More social workers to assist the families.

-More funds allotted to maintaining children receiving in-home care.

-More systems for therapeutic health services.

-More financial help to Comfort for Court Kids.

It’s all quite clear that in representing her clients, Nancy Rabin Brucker represents the best of her profession as well.


At the ripe young age of nine, Zachary Pevnick could predict the future. His future.

He saw himself as a physical therapist trained to minimize patients’ pain, improve their mobility, and increase their strength and endurance—in the privacy of their own homes.

By the year 2010 Zach’s seeing became believing, and then some. He had earned his license and become a rather uniquely qualified physical therapist.

Honors Earned

Zach graduated from the University of Southern California with a Bachelor of Science degree, having majored in kinesiology (the study of human movement). He crowned a distinguished academic career at USC by earning a Doctor of Physical Therapy degree (DPT).

But what set him apart from all the other new PTs were the years that supplemented his formal education. Years of part-time administrative work under the loving guidance of Gary Pevnick, Doctor of Physical Therapy and Zach’s father.

“I worked with him from the 8th grade through college and occasionally helped out at his friends’ clinics too. I also was an aid to volunteers at the USC Faculty Clinic,” he recalled.

To-do list

Zach’s primary duties involved a considerable amount of paper work, which often meant typing his father’s notes covering each patient’s condition. In addition, he performed modalities in his father’s clinic, which included heat and ice packs, ultrasound, anodyne therapy, mechanical traction and electronic stimulation machines.

These assignments provided Zach with close up, real-life views of both the business and medical sides of the profession he admired so much. To him, “the experience had me living in a world of physical therapy, loving it and learning from it.”

The early years of practice brought him many patients who were financially supported by workers’ compensation and plagued by everything from impairments and disabilities to mobility and movement problems.

He soon added orthopedic patient sports medicine to a practice that took off quickly. Thanks to his very first patient launching that practice was never to be forgotten.

Surprise, surprise                         

As Zach remembers it, “the patient had just been released from the hospital. I expected to deal with weakness, but this was excessive weakness. He was lying in bed hardly able to move. When I removed his blanket I discovered why. One of his legs had been amputated.

“I knew which procedures a physical therapist could rely on to help him regain strength. The question bouncing around in my head and making my heart beat faster was: Can a rookie like me with no real experience, take on such a demanding challenge?” Blessed with an unshakable sense of purpose, this rookie decided he could handle the situation. The result reflected the right decision.

A happy ending

After three months of therapy, Zach’s first patient was walking on a prosthetic from the knee down.”

Less dramatic but quite important to Zach was his growing interest in establishing a home-health PT company, similar to his father’s service. When it fell, this apple hardly budged an inch from the tree.

Zach’s interest eventually turned into resolve, and three years after he treated his first patient he opened California Therapy Services, LLC., where he now serves as Chief Executive Officer. This Los Angeles-based company “contracts with major health organizations that recommend us to patients in need of physical or occupational therapy,” he explained.

Sweet success

And recommendations have increased steadily throughout Southern California. According to Zach, “the area-wide demand for at-home PT assistance has risen to the point where we are considering an expansion program that would include the San Fernando Valley, Pasadena, East Los Angeles and Antelope Valley.” In addition to PT, California Therapy offers occupational therapy services.

Another example of home-health’s widening acceptance—and Zach’s dedication to it—is Home Care Administrative Services, LLC.

Zach is Vice President of this organization that serves people with eye problems. Medicare coverage allows the optometrist to visit patients at their homes. The company’s vehicle carries all the equipment available in a doctor’s office. Moreover, Home Care representatives will obtain necessary lens and frames for patients, then turn them over to the patient’s regular optometrist for any required adjustments.

Service is available in Los Angeles and San Diego, as well as communities in Missouri and Illinois.

“Home Care Administrative was introduced in Los Angeles two years ago. Growth has been steady and strong since then,” said Zach, who is the firm’s vice president.

Senior Power

What or who is responsible for the home-health surge? Zach’s answer to that one is “senior citizens. Large numbers of ageing baby boomers now make up a vast market of those in need of the services we provide.

This ballooning market is also creating a great number of employment opportunities for therapists. Rural areas in particular are the sites of a great many open PT positions that tend to be quite lucrative,” he pointed out.

Physical therapy patients have reasons to cheer as well, thanks to stepped up research program. One outstanding example is the work of Christopher M. Powers, PT; PhD. Dr. Powers is an Associate Professor at USC’s Department of Bio Kinesiology and Physical Therapy.

Ace researcher

“He is recognized in the United States and abroad for his research into causes of lower extremity injuries,” Zach stated. Dr. Powers focuses on improving hip function and determining the influence of abnormal hip mechanics on knee injuries.

Another significant development is the recently introduced TRX strap. This new whole-body device assures the physical therapy patient added freedom of movement.

New, innovative equipment and support from ongoing research programs obviously promise an attractive working environment for job-seeking physical therapy graduates. Current PT students have much to look forward to as well.

Important Issues

Zach, now a 29-year-old “veteran,” offers some valuable advice to those students keeping an eye on their future.

“While in school, volunteer to work in the area that interests you most. It will broaden your knowledge and deepen your understanding of your chosen profession.

“Select kinesiology as your major. It’s a great way to familiarize yourself with the basics of PT.

“I’m convinced that students who follow these two steps will be better prepared for what lies ahead. I did, and things worked out that way for me.”

Good advice from a young man who is quite adept at dealing with the future.