Staff Photo: John Bohn Evan Blackburn, a physical therapist at the Atlanta Falcons' physical therapy center in Suwanee, treats Laura Cegalis of Duluth, for a shoulder injury. The Falcons operate ten physical therapy centers in the Atlanta area.
DACULA -- The answer is no.
The Atlanta Falcons Physical Therapy Centers you've seen across Gwinnett -- in Dacula, Snellville and Suwanee -- and the metro Atlanta area are not just for pro athletes. In fact, most see more "everyday athletes," children and senior citizens than anyone else.
"When an athlete comes in, he's not an athlete (to other patients)," said Chris Mallare, the director of AFPTC's Dacula office. "He's a person that's trying to get better just like Mrs. Smith, who's 78 and trying to get over her total-knee replacement."
Begun in 2007 by the same Arthur Blank who owns the Atlanta Falcons NFL franchise, the string of now 10 physical therapy centers spread from Athens to Midtown Atlanta prides itself on blending the line between care for "athletes" and "regular" patients.
Anyone can be treated by expert staff supported by the business acumen of the Falcons franchise and given the opportunity to implement the latest and greatest technology. Most of the AFPTC staff isn't the same group that trains the actual Falcons, but the franchise treats it like they are.
"We're crossing that border between athletes and regular patients," Mallare said. "They want us to keep pushing, to take everything that's available and make it available for our patients.
"I've been working (as a physical therapist) for 19 years," he added. "And I can honestly say I've been more exposed and pushed educationally and clinically in the last three years that I've been with the Falcons than I had been in (the previous) 16 years."
Benny Haney of Dacula has been rehabbing his shoulder with AFPTC after a torn rotator cuff and bone spur surgery. While he wasn't quite sure what the relationship with the pro football team and the physical therapy center was at first, he said he was impressed with the treatment.
"It's been totally good," he said.
The business model behind AFPTC's 10 offices is simple, co-founder Dan Gordon said -- sort of.
Gordon said the Falcons typically buy existing practices with driven therapists already well-established in the community. They expose the therapists to even more technology, exposure and continuing education to ensure the best treatment possible.
But the offices -- which range from under 2,000 square feet to more than 6,000 -- are far from the same. They typically adapt to what the community demands. Gordon said the Winder center sees a lot of patients with work-related injuries and is equipped appropriately. The original Suwanee office sees a lot of athletes, and Mallare's Dacula center is more of a general practice.
They're all equipped, trained and staffed accordingly. They accept about 30 insurance plans.
"When we started this in 2007, (Falcons owner Arthur Blank) said that we wanted to work to be the best," Gordon said, "but we also wanted to work to offer something different and above and beyond."
For more information, visit atlantafalconsptc.com.