On May 1, 2003, when Sallie Rediske started Homer Physical Therapy in a rented space on Pioneer Avenue in what’s now Refuge Chapel, she took a lunch break and walked across the street to another new business that also opened May 1, 2003, Cosmic Kitchen.
“I remember thinking ‘I hope we both make it,’” Rediske said.
Ten years later, both businesses are going strong.
Rediske started Homer Physical Therapy with Katherina Sherzin, but bought her out in 2006. That year she also bought the old Homer Chamber of Commerce modular building and moved it to Homer Physical Therapy’s current location on Pennock Street off East End Road.
Homer Physical Therapy continues doing what Rediske set out to do when she started the business: relieve pain and stress.
“I wanted to create an environment that was very supportive and met the very unique needs of people who experience chronic pain,” Rediske said.
Raised in South Carolina, Rediske came to Homer during the 1992 downturn in the Lower 48 economy looking for adventure and a change. She met her husband, Dan Rediske, in north Kenai in 1993, where she took a job as a physical therapy aide.
Rediske had a degree in history and international studies from University of South Carolina, Columbia. When she decided to get her masters in physical therapy, Rediske said she thought of going to Pacific Northwest universities. Dan encouraged her to go back east so he could see the part of the world where she grew up. They did, and in 1998 she graduated with an MPT from Old Dominion University, Norfolk, Va. The Rediskes returned to Alaska where she started working as a physical therapist, first with another Homer business and now on her own. They have a son, Roan, 13.
Most of Rediske’s clients have chronic pain or issues dealing with the reproductive system, such as pelvic pain. Darcy Souza, a physical therapist at Homer Physical Therapy, sees a wider range of more traditional physical therapy issues, such as knee, hip, shoulder and other joint pain.
Treating chronic pain can be a challenge, Rediske said. Some have had pain for 15 years that’s so pervasive they’ve lost joy in living and are even suicidal.
“A lot of people have no idea why they hurt. They just hurt,” she said.
Some clients come without referrals, but insurance companies generally want a doctor’s referral first. Most people with chronic pain already have a group of health providers they’ve seen first, Rediske said.
“You can’t treat chronic pain the way you treat acute pain,” she said. “It requires a whole different mentality. … Working with people with chronic pain requires a much more realistic, holistic perspective.”
Homer Physical Therapy helps educate clients on issues like diet, nutrition, exercise and movement. Fitness instructor Fran Evarts teaches exercise classes with attention to injury prevention and to help guide clients from physical therapy to physical fitness.
“Really listening to how they’re doing stuff, working on technique and quality of movement is a big deal,” Rediske said.
Naturopathic doctor and licensed acupuncturist Ane Mane works Fridays and Saturdays at Homer Physical Therapy, helping people with a holistic approach to treatment.
While some injuries are obvious, such as sports injuries, other issues can be complex, Rediske said, and can be related to childhood surgeries such as appendectomies.
“‘I had no idea physical therapy could help me with this problem,’” is something Rediske said she hears quite often. “They don’t know about the other things physical therapy can do.”
In her 15 years as physical therapist, Rediske said the biggest change she has seen in the business is an increased awareness of the brain’s power to regulate sensory perception. Physical therapy takes an approach that’s not just mechanical, she said.
That can mean some homework by clients. Beyond office sessions, clients might do exercises on their own and look at changing their lifestyle.
“If they really want to make the change, it really requires a fundamental shift in how they do much of everything in their lives,” Rediske said.
To celebrate its 10th anniversary, Rediske plans a year-long celebration. It will offer webinars on various subjects and have prize giveaways over the months to come. A supporter of the arts, Homer Physical Therapy provides massages to all visiting performers in Homer Council on the Arts presentations. Homer Physical Therapy. Rediske said if she wasn’t focusing on chronic pain, she would work with performing artists. Part of Homer Physical Therapy’s celebration also will involve special events associated with next October’s visit by the Quixotic dance, music and performing arts group next fall.
Michael Armstrong can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Homer Physical Therapy
Opened May 1, 2003
Location: 4141 Pennock Street
Owner: Sallie Rediske, master of physical therapy
Deena Benson, office manager
Caroline DeCreeft, physical therapy aide
Fran Evarts, fitness instructor
Beth Laffan, licensed massage therapist
Vassilisa Reutov, receptionist and office assistant
Darcy Souza, physical therapist
Ane Mane, naturopathic doctor, licensed acupuncturist