Physical Therapy Services provides care to athletes locally, example to world

Published 8:48 am Thursday, August 27, 2015

Danny D. Smith, founder, president and CEO of Elizabethton and Johnson City’s Physical Therapy Services, P.A., began his work in Carter County in 1977. Now, his knowledge and experience are spreading globally, though his focus remains local with programs providing occupational therapy and assistance to students and athletes of the Northeast Tennessee community.
“We do it right,” Smith said. “Based on my experience in sports and my background as an emergency medical technician years ago and being an instructor and instructor trainer for American Red Cross, we put all that together and apply it to sports.”
They have developed a program that they model 30 to 40 times annually all across the country, as well as having taken it to Canada, Europe, Germany, Poland and the Netherlands, all based on what they do here in Elizabethton.
“What we do here and how we take care of athletes is truly world class,” said Smith. “There are a lot of people around the world that are doing what we do and a lot of others wanting to learn the way we do it.”
About four months ago, he was invited by a group in Seattle, Washington called MedBridge to film continued education courses on everything from equipment fitting to fracture and heat-related problems.
“We’re taking these programs worldwide, so people in Thailand can find out how we handle ankle sprains in Elizabethton,” he said.
Smith has delivered over 200 national and international presentations in over 40 years of practicing physical therapy and continues to get requests for courses for therapists. He has lectured at Duke, Cleveland Clinic, Mayo Clinic, Madison University of South Carolina and Vanderbilt Sports Medicine Clinic, just to name a few.
He has been an adjunct professor in the physical therapy programs of Belmont University, East Tennessee State University and Milligan College. He currently trains instructors in Emergency Medical Response.
In the Sports Physical Therapy Section, he has served as Secretary, Member-at-Large as well as the first Emergency Response SIG chair.
He has been awarded the Turner A. Blackburn Lifetime Achievement Award and the Ron Peyton Award, the highest given by SPTS. He has been inducted into the SPTS Hall of Fame, the Northeast Tennessee Sports Hall of Fame, the Elizabethton High School Sports Hall of Fame.
Additionally, he served as one of 50 Physical Therapists, chosen out of approximately 3,000 applicants, for the 1996 Olympic Games in Atlanta, Georgia. He came home after the games then returned to Atlanta where he was the director of sports medicines for the Paralympics. For about 3 years following that, he traveled the world with the US disabled volleyball games competing against other disabled athletes.
“Both Olympics were probably the most regarding experience I’ve ever had,” he recalled.
Now, back in Tennessee for over a decade, his focus has been on serving the community at his office, in schools, with athletes, coaches and even at the Boys and Girls Club.
Every Saturday morning during football season, PTS provides a sports injuries clinic in which any student athlete can come from Northeast Tennessee at no charge for evaluation. They may be offered therapy by PTS or assistance finding a physician.
Along with his staff and son Justin C. Smith, PT, DPT, SCS, RN, TPI-MP2, vice president of PTS, they provide therapy, orthopedic and pediatric care to area residents and athletes.
“Athletes are probably only 10 to 15 percent of what we do,” said Smith, explaining that they largely focus on general orthopedics and taking care of injured workers. They have a pediatric program for handicapped children and a big pediatric practice in Johnson City, where they most commonly assist patients with cerebral palsy, attention deficit disorder and attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder.
“We provide services in the school system in addition to what we do with athletes,” he said. Both the Johnson City and Elizabethton branches send therapists into classrooms to help students with fine motor skills, like handwriting, and general comprehension. Smith said their work is pretty broad and they stay very busy.
They’ve been working with Carter County since the beginning, so many of their students are second generation clients.
“They say, ‘You took care of my daddy or my mommy when she played,’ and it speaks of us that they come back,” he said.
According to Smith, many of his employees formerly studied with PTS.
PTS offers the only Sports Physical Therapy Residency in Tennessee to one student each year for 13 months. Five students have participated thus far from Kentucky, Alabama, Arizona and Hawaii, and the current resident is from Michigan. His first resident currently works at PTS.
“They come here specifically to learn about how and what we do in sports on sidelines, in education and in rehab and how we get them back to play,” he said.
All of their residents have graduated and passed the Sports Clinical Specialists Exam and have been given the chance to teach on the graduate and undergraduate level. They have also had the opportunity to travel with Smith and to do educational courses around the country. Most of the work is with high school and junior high athletes, but sometimes they work supplementally with ETSU and Milligan.
They are currently accepting applications for the position starting Jan. 2016 and ending in Feb. 2017.
“We’ve been doing it for a long time, so we’ve got to be doing something right,” he said.

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