HOMEMADE HAPPINESS…….By Sheldon Lessen

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.