A typical scenario at SERC Physical Therapy in Grain Valley features good natured banter, encouraging words and a heartfelt thank you.
“We’re kind of the hairdressers of health care,” said a chuckling Trisha Ebert, a 2004 Hall of Fame graduate of Grain Valley High School, who is now a partner and clinic director for SERC Physical Therapy, 103 SW Eagles Parkway.
“People come in and talk about everything – and I think that’s important. They tell us about their lives, they tell us about their families - they feel so comfortable with everyone on our staff. We’re not your typical health care facility.
“And I like that about our clinic. We get to know our patients and they get to know us. And I believe that helps on their road to recovery.”
Early one morning, a patient who is recovering from foot surgery tells Ebert about a dream home she hopes to purchase. Another one talks about her child’s first day of school. They exchange recipes, their favorite movies or television programs, talk about their dreams and disappointments and get healthy in the process.
The Grain Valley SERC location is about to celebrate its second anniversary and Ebert is thrilled with her location’s growth and success.
“The number of patients we get from referrals or family members proves to me we’re doing something right,” said Ebert, who graduated from the University of Missouri with a bachelor’s degree in nutrition and then earned her doctorate in physical therapy from Long Island University in Brooklyn.
She is now a board certified orthopedic doctor of physical therapy.
She might not have earned that prestigious title had the star sprinter and triple jump champion at Grain Valley not suffered a devastating torn ACL while working out with the cheerleading team her senior year.
“We were practicing tumbling and I landed wrong and immediately knew that something was wrong – very wrong,” said Ebert, who was part of the Eagles 400, 800 and 1,600 school-record setting relay teams and the school triple jump champion.
“I missed cheering and going to state. I was on crutches when we won state, and it was a bummer for me, but I was really happy for my teammates.”
She dreaded the idea of going to physical therapy, but soon found it to be an exhilarating experience.
“If I hadn’t torn my ACL, I doubt if I would have gone into physical therapy,” said Ebert. “It was such a great experience for me, and it was so rewarding. You really develop a bond with your therapist and I wanted to do something to help people – not only help them, but get to know them.”
So, seven years after that devastating injury, she was about to become a difference maker in the lives of people who needed therapy.
Now, she’s back home making a difference in the lives of everyone who walks through the SERC door.
“We had a lady who had a cancerous tumor removed from her knee,” Ebert said, “and she came to us hoping to gain enough mobility to walk up the stairs to take part in her son’s graduation. I don’t think she thought she would be able to do it early on, because she would cry and say, ‘I just can’t do it.’
“But she worked so hard and one day we received a photo from her, sitting on the top row of the bleachers at graduation. Those are the stories that make my job so special. If they believe they can do something, they often go out and do it.
“That’s why we want to make this a family environment, to show them how much we care. There’s no better feeling for us than seeing a patient graduate – although we hate to tell them goodbye, because we’ve gotten to know them.
“We don’t spend 10 or 15 minutes with them, like a typical doctor’s visit, we spend hours with them. They become a member of our family, and you’d do anything for a member of your family.”
Speaking of family, Ebert has many relatives in and around Grain Valley. Her brother Tyler Ebert and her cousin Jamie Scully are members of the reigning state championship Oak Grove football team coaching staff, and another cousin, Dylan Richard, is a kicker for the Grain Valley Eagles.
“It’s like a game of six degrees of separation,” Ebert said, smiling. “It seems like we know everyone who walk through our door, or they know someone or are related to someone we know. That’s what makes this job so special.
“Plus, I’m home. And you always feel good when you go home.”