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August 11, 2022

Improve the Way You Move

I had wondered why stretching my left arm above my head hurt so much. After several sleepless nights and experiencing high pain levels, I called my doctor. Her assessment alarmed me, but I insisted on X-rays. I am officially a senior citizen; I can handle that, but not the steady erosion of my body.

The diagnosis was stunning. Arthritis, not in one shoulder but in both, including a tiny little bone spur forming in one, as if this was reassuring news. Solution? “No, not physical therapy,” I cried.

Valley Physical Therapy (VPT)

I had physical therapy with a severally strained left foot in my early years. Still, all I can remember from that experience was being given paperwork to do various exercises and, with each visit, handed over to a new physical therapist. Luckily, this time, I landed in the care of Sara Clayton at Valley Physical Therapy in Scotts Valley.

This time, my experience is about personalized care and compassion, two reasons why Sara enjoys her work. I am learning how physical therapy provides information about how my muscular structure works with my injury. In addition, how the physical therapy regiment (movement plan) is helping me to sustain the moveability of my shoulders so that I can live within the limitations and still have ‘a life’ within realistic parameters.

I interviewed Sara and VPT owner Cheryl D. Tibbetts. Their patient care philosophy is worthy of this column.

Why VPT?

Firstly, VPT has been in our Valley since the early 1990s. Cheryl purchased the business in 2005 and has been in the physical therapy business for more than 30 years. VPT has a staff of four: Sara, Cheryl and Meghan Bensen, all board-certified therapists, and Aja, whose pleasant voices greet you on the phone.

What is unique about them? I learned that not all physical therapists are equal. Both Sara and Meghan are doctorate level, and Cheryl has her master’s in biokinesiology. What does this mean to you or me? They offer a higher level of care and provide one-on-one therapy.

As board-certified physical therapists, did you know that you can go to them directly without a doctor’s referral because they are qualified to assess your condition and provide off-the-street care? Yes, there are restrictions, but it is good to know if you are in severe pain that you don’t have to wait for a doctor’s appointment first.

Biokinesiology integrates the study of movement at the molecular, cellular, organ and systems level. It means when you ask questions about your physical therapy plan, they will know the type of movement and exercises that best suits your optimum recovery or sustainable care.

When I asked Sara and Cheryl what was essential for me to say about them, they offered similar responses. Their philosophy is “individualized personal care.” Cheryl is active in the Physical Therapy Association, and the overall message is: “Physical Therapy Improves the Way You Move.”

At the Heart of it

Cheryl says “most people don’t like the idea of going to physical therapy, but most of our patients that we see are people with chronic issues, surgery, and joint replacements injuries vs. high school athletes trying to get back to their sport. Usually, we don’t have to figure out how to motivate them. We strive to have a compassionate and friendly atmosphere. We want to get people to move more so that they realize that they can do it, maintain their pain, and give them more confidence.”

After her massage therapy training, Sara mentioned she wanted to work in an environment where one-on-one care was available, leading to her physical therapy training.

I have learned that my arthritis is here to stay, but having an active life is still available to me, and they are teaching me how to care for my body in its present state. Working with professionals at this level gives me hope, and I wanted to share this with you. 

If you find that you need physical therapy, VPT is located at 4615 Scotts Valley Drive. You can reach them at 831-438-4478.

And by the way, they are looking to hire another physical therapist.


Janet Janssen, Life Coach, Trainer and Public Speaker. She works with business owners and their staff for personal development and leadership skills. Contact her at [email protected] or 831-335-0553.

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