By Shari Valenta
With the ski and snowboarding season upon us, along with fluffy powder and hot chocolate come shredded ACLs (anterior cruciate ligaments) and sprained ankles. Have no fear-–Dr. Michael Keirns and his team of physical therapists at the Greenwood Village Athletic Club will get you back to the slopes in no time!
Dr. Keirns is the clinical director of Physiotherapy Associates at the club located on the corner of Orchard and Quebec. There are seven physical therapists that focus mostly on orthopedics specializing in sports medicine. Each therapist is proficient in a different area. For example, some work with shoulders whereas other experts treat knees. They help anyone from the retiree who misses playing golf for fun because of an accident, to members of the Colorado Avalanche suffering from professional related injuries. Because the center is located in an athletic club, a number of clients are triathletes recovering from running or bicycling accidents.
The practice itself has a lively atmosphere, often filling all of its 13 beds in the afternoon with people working out their various problems. There are a few semi-private curtained areas for the modest and also a secluded room for massage therapy. Various pieces of equipment and therapy aids line the walls. Sometimes hot packs and ice are offered to ease sore muscles. Exercise balls are available to balance on and there’s kinetic equipment to test an athlete’s force output.
Onsite is a Pilates exercise studio, a large weight room with personal trainers and a pool the therapists use frequently for water therapy. The club has courts to play racquetball, squash, basketball and tennis. Members can participate in a number of classes such as yoga, martial arts, swimming, spinning, kickboxing and dance. Many of the exercise classes come complimentary with the membership (not Pilates and personal training classes).
“It’s been a nice marriage between the athletic club and us. We rent the space here but we do maintain a good relationship and collaborate on certain programs,” said Dr. Keirns. “One of these collaborations would be our performance enhancement training. We measure strength and force of muscle to help people become better athletes. We figure out where their weak spots are or what they have to work on to design programs to help them can get back to a competitive level or just improve their golf game, for example.”
Keirns has performed physical therapy at the club since it opened 17 years ago. Originally, the physical therapy clinic was called Therex, Inc. It became Physiotherapy Associates in 2000 when Keirns took over the clinic.
“There are 430 Physiotherapy Associates locations across the country,” he explained. “They contract with LPGA and PGA golf groups. We follow the tournaments around and take care of their professional golfers.”
Keirns is soft-spoken, reserved and has a gentle bedside manner. Many of his patients comment that he’s the best. The doctor has over 25 year’s experience in his field. He received his physical therapy degree from the University of Michigan in 1979 and his Ph.D. from the University of Denver in 1994.
Keirns became interested in physical therapy because of his love for sports and serving the community. He’s worked as an athletic trainer for many metro area high schools and colleges over the years. He’s currently head physical therapist and athletic trainer for the Littleton Public Schools sports medicine programs.
He’s a diligent worker who has very little time to talk. He focuses his time on helping patients and doing studies to learn innovative techniques. The busy doctor not only founded his physical therapy operation at Greenwood but also developed (along with two colleagues) the physical therapy curriculum at Denver’s Regis University back in 1994, which is implemented today.
“I presently work on three research grants,” said Keirns. “One of them is our baseball study. We evaluate baseball pitchers and come up with precursors for injury. To do this, we use high-speed videographic analysis. We also do 25 other kinematics measurements (measuring the range of motion) of the athletes to describe their pitch. There are 150 subjects so far in the study. We try to guess what injuries they may receive in the future based on their pitch.”
The work is paying off; Dr. Keirns and his team see success stories daily.
“One example is Brad Lidge who pitches for the Houston Astros,” Keirns said. “He’s the team’s closer and we treated him for about six different injuries that may have been career ending. He was able to continue playing the same position for the World Series; their first game was October 22.”
On top of teaching fulltime and doing research, he works three days a week with patients at his practice. When he’s not working, he’s an active member of his parish, serving as Eucharist minister at St. Francis Cabrini Catholic Church in Littleton. At the end of his busy day, he still manages to relax with his wife and two kids at home.
Have an injury you want to rehabilitate or just want to become a better athlete? Contact Greenwood Athletic Club for class schedules and fees. Anyone can join; it’s not limited to the city of Greenwood Village.
Physiotherapy Associates and Greenwood Athletic Club are located at 5801 S. Quebec St. Therapy sessions are by appointment only from 7:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m., Mon. – Fri. To schedule a visit, call 303-694-9193. For more information about Greenwood Athletic Club, call 303-770-CLUB (2582) or visit [http://www.greenwoodathleticclub.com].