That's a Stretch! He Strikes Up the Thera-Band

By Stephanie Stephens

"It has some karma to it." That's Phil Page, MS, PT, ATC, CSCS, speaking about the undeniable global success of the versatile Thera-Band product line, its motto being "The shortest distance between therapy and fitness." Simple idea, great concept, and indeed surveys show, says Page, that "almost 100% of physical therapists (PTs) use elastic bands."

Thera-Bands are developed and manufactured by The Hygenic Corporation. Page, who is also an athletic trainer and certified strength-conditioning specialist, is manager of clinical education and research for the company, which is based in Akron, Ohio. Married and a father of four, Page lives in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. He travels the world—with his conveniently portable Thera-Band—to observe firsthand how PTs work in other cultures and gets to learn as much as he teaches from his international colleagues. He has trained physical therapists to teach Thera-Band courses in more than 20 countries.

"I enjoy creating these clinical solutions for the issues we [as PTs] face," he says, "and the needs that exist. I get a kick out of helping more than one person at a time now, as when I help 10 or 20 physical therapists that, in turn, help others."

This isn't a commercial for Thera-Band, but as a PT, you may well share Page's enthusiasm for the product. "It's so versatile, and can do so much with limited space, limited reimbursement, and limited time," he says. "It can solve problems for clinicians who have to make a patient better in a shorter period of time, with less money."

Not bad for a little product that was conceived over 25 years ago when two PTs who approached the parent company, The Hygenic Corporation, with their now-big idea. "We've branched into exercise balls, balance training devices, aquatic therapy, hand rehabilitation and hot and cold therapy. It's all very exciting."

Page and his employer are a good team, and in fact his résumé includes tenures with the NFL's New Orleans Saints and Seattle Seahawks and with athletic programs at Tulane University. He's also certified by the National Athletic Trainers' Association (NATA) and was awarded its Otto Davis Postgraduate Scholarship in 1991.

Being a PT has meant that with Thera-Band, he can use his experience to positively affect the profession and its clientele. "You have to direct a business to meet needs of customers, and sometimes it's hard to really understand those needs unless you're actually there with clinicians. I get to represent the profession and be its voice, which is very diverse, and I help our company provide products that can help everyone across the life span."

He thinks frequently about where our profession is headed and recognizes new opportunities all the time. "Coming from an orthopedic and sports background, I've become very interested in public health, older adults, and chronic disease management with exercise," says an enthusiastic Page. He's also a member of APTA's Task Force on Promoting Physical Therapists as Exercise Experts for the Aging Population, the National Blueprint to Increase Physical Activity in Older Adults and an adjunct to the traditional rehabilitation focus.

He's a believer that "as PTs, we're the professionals with the best abilities to create these exercise programs for special populations."

You'd think Page has enough on his professional plate, but he's also completing his PhD in kinesiology at Louisiana State University, focusing on fall prevention at the community level—"taking my passion for translating exercise into the real-world community and blending that with the older adult population. This job has supported me to do that," he says.

Perspectives for New Professionals of the American Physical Therapy Association, Supplement to Physical Therapy, June 2007, pages 27-28 

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