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Monday, December 10 News

Physical therapy clinic opens

DARIEN — At Elevate Physical Therapy, it’s all about the individualized approach.

“We actually under-schedule so we can have more time for more one-on-one, hands-on treatment,” Steve Melchionno, one of the owners, said. “A lot of the competitors tend to overschedule and they don’t get that individualized treatment.”

The business, which opened in mid-April at 19 Old Kings Highway S., is Elevate Physical Therapy’s first clinic in Connecticut. Melchionno also owned a physical therapy spot a few years ago in Darien.

“A lot of old patients, friends and docs wanted us back in the area,” he said.

Melchionno said his interest in therapy came from the effect it had on his own life. While playing soccer in high school, Melchionno broke his hip and was told he may never play again. However, after going through surgery and therapy, he was able to return.

“I wanted to give the same experience to other people who had injuries,” he said. “So they have the chance to get back to doing whatever they love, whatever that may be.”

At Elevate Physical Therapy, the therapists bring an evidence-based approach, and a patient-centric focus to their work. “Everything we do there is evidence, documentation and literature behind it,” Melchionno said.

By not overscheduling patients, Elevate looks to stand apart from the competition. Melchionno said his approach came from seeing a lot of larger physical therapy companies come in, buy smaller companies and pushing numbers.

“The backlash from the patients and the doctors are saying they’re not getting good, quality care,” he said.

Elevate also allows patients to use their insurance; often, places that do more one-on-one work won’t accept it, Melchionno said. The clinic is in network with all major insurances companies except Connecticare.

“People pay a lot of money to use health insurance,” Melchionno said. “They deserve to be able to use their health insurance and not go to places out of network all the time. You’re getting the same if not better individualized care here and you’re paying your $20 copay.”

Elevate has three therapists and is potentially bringing a fourth one onto the team.

“All our PT’s are very highly trained. All have subspecialities in orthopedics,” he said.

Each therapists also specializes in certain areas. For Melchionno, he specializes on the neck and back.

Emily Besson, an Elevate physical therapist, said she tends to work with dancers to help them overcome, as well as prevent, injuries. She also treats post-concussion syndrome.

Besson has been working as a therapist for over a decade, but her current career doesn’t stray far from her original interests.

“I was a dancer my whole life,” she said. “When I stopped dancing and focused on my career, I became passionate about combining the two.”

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Dancers are often very flexible, so when she works with them she focuses in on strengthening exercises. “A lot of times dancers end up with injuries in their hips,” she said. “So a lot of time that’s the focus.”

Many of the patients she works with are clientele built up over nearly nine years working in Stamford.

“I know people in the area. I know doctors in the area,” she said. “It kind of felt like home coming back to this office.”

Though this is their first location in Connecticut, there are plans to expand the business further.

“We would like to stay in Fairfield County,” Melchionno said. “But we would like to have multiple locations as well.”

dj.simmons@hearstmediact.com, 203-842-2568

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