Exos Physical Therapy integrates behavioral health with re-injury prevention

When Katie Redmond* found herself battling chronic knee pain, her primary doctor recommended physical therapy. A quick search of her options turned up a nearby Exos Physical Therapy and Sports Medicine clinic. Having some familiarity with the Exos whole-person approach to performance due to her work in the fitness industry, she signed up.

“My biggest concern was getting back to normal,” Redmond said, admitting that she wasn’t keen on rearranging her daily work and family obligations for PT. “I knew something had to give, though. I was ready to do whatever it took to feel normal again.”

Building a workable therapy plan

What struck Redmond at her first appointment was the detail with which the therapist addressed all forms of movement. Using a proprietary Exos intake process, the physical therapist worked with Redmond to assess the health and range of motion of all her joints – including everything from her ankles to her thoracic spine and how they worked independently and in concert with other joints – in just 20 minutes.

“It really was phenomenal,” Redmond recalled. “I remember thinking that I should maybe point out it was my knee that hurt, but I was curious about what he would find with the assessment.”

Her patience and curiosity paid off. Through an interactive combination of Functional Movement Screening, traditional orthopedic tests, and the 21-step Exos Pillar Pre-Requisite Assessment, Redmond said her therapist found some movement restrictions in her hip and spine that were contributing to her nagging, recurrent knee pain issue.

“He explained everything so well that it made perfect sense,” she said. “In that first session, I learned a set of exercises I could do at home to improve the way I move so that my knee could get some relief. We talked about nutrition and my therapist gave me some great tips for working my PT exercises into my daily schedule. I thought, ‘I can do that!’”

Within just a few days of starting her at-home exercises, Redmond said she could tell her back and hips were moving better. Within the first two weeks, and with check-ins with her therapist on video and in person, she said the knee pain began to lessen. As a team, she and her therapist, physician, and dietitian adjusted her treatment plan to account for her increased mobility to incorporate some strength and stability components.

Three months after that unique first visit, Redmond says she’s confident that her knee issue is a thing of the past.

“Now that I understand what I need to do to move my whole body more efficiently, it’s pretty simple,” she explained. “My knee pain is almost completely gone, and I’ve started the transition to a performance training program to focus on strength and functional movement. I was pretty skeptical of PT overall, but this experience has been different than what I expected. I feel great.”

Positive clinical outcomes begin with a different approach

Redmond’s experience isn’t unique among Exos Physical Therapy patients. Exos Director of Rehabilitation Jim Godin says it all starts with that first visit Pillar Pre-Requisite Assessment.

“Exos has a system in place that allows us to objectively assess each client’s movement, both from a global view as well as from a smaller, more segmental view,” Godin said. He also emphasized that the Exos approach to physical therapy is to focus on the root cause of injury rather than becoming fixated on the painful structure, such as a patellar tendon. Digging deeper during the assessment and identifying both the root cause of the pain as well as the actual painful tissue(s) or joint(s), a clinical team can work together to develop a comprehensive treatment plan along with the patient’s physician, nutritionist, and performance coach.

“It’s an integrative and long-term approach to physical therapy that sets the Exos Physical Therapy philosophy apart,” Godin said. “You might expect that, when you go to physical therapy for knee pain, the therapist will just give you a bunch of ‘knee exercises’ or perform treatment only local to the knee. The Exos approach attacks the root cause(s) of the pain using manual techniques, corrective exercises, and various loading strategies at the hip, ankle, or spine (possibly all of the above) while simultaneously addressing any local joints or tissues that are painful.”

“In general, pain is a great ‘check engine light’ as it allows us to dig deeper into a person’s movement strategies while we rid them of their current pain symptoms quickly. This clears up what’s causing the source of pain so the patient experiences relief and doesn’t get injured again in the future.”

What the Pillar Pre-Requisite Assessment provides

Exos Physical Therapists developed the Pillar Pre-Requisite Assessment to provide consistency at each initial therapy visit with a focus on whole-person movement health. Using the tool, a physical therapist can analyze a patient’s quality of movement, then follow a logical approach to treatment that addresses the patient’s lifestyle and overall health.

“Movement quality impacts sports and performance in everyday life,” Godin said. “For Exos clientele, performance needs range from running a 40-yard dash at an NFL Combine to a mother being able to pick up her child.”

Despite that wide range of physical activity and goals, Godin said the Pillar Pre-Requisite Assessment is applicable to every unique patient, and that the end goal is always the same.

“This tool is universally applicable to all patients,” Godin said. “We want to make sure they can absorb force and propel force while minimizing any energy leaks, and the assessment tool helps us avoid missing anything that could potentially positively or negatively impact their ability to do so pain free”. 

“Using this systematic approach, we are able to differentiate whether it is a tissue or joint that is restricted or if there is a sneaky, underlying inability for the person to actively control their available range of motion, which we term a ‘neuromuscular control’ issue,” he continued. “The results allow us to be more targeted in our treatments and, at the same time, create a theme to follow throughout the plan of care with specific exercises and complementary manual therapy techniques to improve a patient’s movement. We want to respect our clients’ time by being very specific and intentional with all of our rehabilitation strategies.”

A focus on getting back to better-than-normal

Some Exos Physical Therapy clients include professional athletes, first responders, and military special forces personnel. Godin emphasized that developing the Pillar Pre-Requisite Assessment to serve those highly physical individuals has only made it more useful for everyone, at every stage of treatment.

“We use the tool to assess, reassess, and then transition the patient back to their workplace, whether that be the battlefield, the streets, or the boardroom,” he said. “This approach allows us to create a plan of care that seamlessly transitions clients from their injured state all the way back to full performance.”

And, true to the Exos focus on healthy lifestyle and performance, Godin said the team-based integrative therapy approach addresses lifestyle improvements through patient education to improve outcomes.

“We connect all the dots and explain what we’ve found in the assessment so the patient understands why they’re experiencing pain. That creates a level of autonomy that enhances patient compliance so they continue the PT work at home.”

“We give our patients tools for personal wellness and autonomy. It’s a behavior upgrade model that creates healthy habits.”

Post-therapy return to training, made easier

The Exos Physical Therapy rehabilitation approach to lifestyle improvement was built upon the company’s foundational human performance training, so it’s no surprise that the Pillar Pre-Requisite Assessment and Exos PT treatment plans make sense to athletic trainers and coaches.

“Our rehabilitation system is based on absorbing force and propelling force, and we break down those movements to make sure each patient is ready to train using that reciprocal process,” Godin said. “Coaches speak our language, and we work with them to clearly indicate where their clients are so they can manage loads and intensity and get their clients back to preparing for their upcoming season or event.”

That bridge between rehabilitation and performance may look different for each therapy client, but what doesn’t change, Godin explained, is the proven process used to get them there. 

“Exos Physical Therapists can provide return-to-sport rehabilitation, injury prevention strategies, and return-to-occupation rehabilitation, as well as more traditional outpatient orthopedic therapies while working in collaboration with an extensive network of researchers, industry professionals, and partners,” he said. “We do this within a model that allows our therapists to learn about the various aspects of the client’s life so they can design a sustainable plan that fits their goals and lifestyle.” 

“The client gets just the right combination of education, manual therapy, exercise, and movement strategy while the clinician continuously refines and optimizes the plan,” Godin said. “We set them up to succeed, and that’s what it’s all about…ensuring a positive outcome for each individual.”

Learn more about Exos Physical Therapy and Sports Medicine’s approach to long-term patient wellness outcomes and Practice Management Services. Contact us today to learn how Exos Consulting can help your practice reach more patients, focus on proactive injury prevention, and speed recovery through a proven, integrative approach to human performance training.

*Patient name and certain details have been changed to protect the patient’s privacy.