Atlantic Physical Therapy Planning For 6th Location

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BERLIN — Atlantic Physical Therapy (APT) will be expanding this year with a new location in Salisbury set to open on Dec. 1.
That will be the sixth APT location, a huge leap from when owner Robert Hammond opened his first site in 1998 on Cathell Road in Berlin. But no matter how big Atlantic grows, Hammond promised it will always be a community-oriented business.
APT, which has locations in Maryland, Delaware and Pennsylvania, started out small 15 years ago with a single, therapy center on Cathell Road, which was later moved slightly and upgraded in 2006. A former boxer, Hammond spent several years in the medical equipment industry before opening APT. Over the last decade and a half, he’s made it a point to build the organization into something unique with services that are uncommon among the competition.
“We do a lot of stuff here where other places don’t have the equipment,” he said.
Besides the traditional services like physical and occupational therapy and trauma rehabilitation, APT offers aquatic therapy, soft-tissue mobilization and fall risk prevention at all locations. The Biodex Fall Risk program, a disk that charts balance and is often used on athletes after concussions, “improves balance, gait, strength and flexibility,” according to APT. Physical therapists at APT are also knowledgeable in the Graston technique. It is instrument assisted soft tissue mobilization that has therapists treating areas displaying signs of fibrosis or chronic inflammation with the application of stainless steel instruments.
One of the pieces of equipment that Hammond is most proud of is the AlterG anti-gravity treadmill. The machine is able to simulate weightlessness via air pressure manipulation. It’s easy on joints and a great injury recuperation tool, said Kim Adams, a physical therapist at APT.
“Just walking in there is a benefit,” she said.
The anti-gravity treadmill is also popular among athletes, Adams added, including those who are recovering from injuries and others who simply want to train in a low-impact environment.
“I’m training in there,” she said. “It’s good for both.”
Hammond is a big advocate of fitness as part of physical therapy, which is why he includes a free month membership to APT’s onsite gym at his Berlin location at the end of therapy programs.
“In order for you to maintain [recovery], you need to keep exercising,” he said. “That is the key.”
Another thing that sets APT apart, Hammond continued, is rate of recovery.
“We’re going to get you to full-functional capacity as quickly as we can. We’ll get you back to your doctor, get rid of you and let you go on to your own lifestyle,” he said. “That’s why I offer the free month in the gym for patients when they’re done. No one else does that.”
Atlantic doesn’t want to make visitors “patients for life,” said Hammond, though he does hope to encourage them into better lifelong habits and convenient exercises that can be performed at home to avoid future problems.
In addition to all of the equipment, APT has a number of unique therapists like Sally Hawkins, who is one of only about 5,600 certified hand therapists in the world and the only one in the immediate area, according to Hammond.
It isn’t only the service and equipment that defines Atlantic, he added, but the people and attitude.
“I like to think that I’m a community oriented guy. I like to think I do a lot for the community and I’m proud to say that I do,” said Hammond.
APT is involved with area schools with its Tough Guy Awards for athletes, participates in the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure and conducts an annual donation of bikes to the Ocean City Police Department’s Christmas Toy Drive, among other events.
Hammond compared APT to the bar in Cheers where everyone knows everyone else’s name. No matter how many locations Atlantic expands to in the future, Hammond said he is committed to keeping a “mom and pop” feel and not just becoming some physical therapy franchise. This is reflected in part in the design of his therapy centers, especially the corporate headquarters in Maryland, which avoids a stale clinical look and instead features large open spaces and classic architectural highlights.
“I made everything in marble and granite. I did it like Rome,” Hammond explained. “We’re here to stay. We built it to stay.”
Whatever success APT has, Hammond contributes to hard work but especially a sense that he’s been blessed both personally and professionally. A spiritual guy, Hammond doesn’t believe in luck but is a firm believer in the adage that God helps those who help themselves.
Hammond owns Atlantic along with his wife Jessica. He has five children, ages 26 to just 7 months old. Several of his children have taken steps to enter the medical and physical therapy field along with their father, including Hammond’s oldest son Bobby Hammond, III, who already runs the APT locations in Philadelphia and will become an even larger part of the operation in the future.

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