Relaxing Rehabilitation

Using a gentle approach, Omaha Physical Therapy Institute helps patients recover faster

Photos by Christopher Tierney


Recovering from an injury or surgery takes time and can include months of physical therapy. People are often apprehensive going into rehab, worried that it will be painful and difficult. But Brent and Katie Cordery who own Omaha Physical Therapy Institute (OPTI), approach rehab with a different method. It’s one that focuses on first teaching patients about their pain and then incorporating gentle, relaxing exercises, which results in a more comfortable rehab and a quicker recovery.

Brent and Katie met while both receiving their doctoral degrees in physical therapy at Creighton University. Katie played soccer and basketball in high school and went on to play soccer while an undergrad at CU. After tearing her ACL, she decided to pursue a career in PT. Upon graduating, she and Brent moved to Minnesota where they both practiced in large PT clinics. Neither liked the corporate approach those clinics took, which they said put more emphasis on number of patients seen rather than on the quality of care given to the patients.  So in 2006 they decided to move back to Omaha and open their own practice—a risky endeavor but worth it to make a difference in the industry.

Katie said from day one they wanted to offer the same type of care that they would want for their own friends and family. “If my own mom or dad had to go to a health care professional, what would I want for them?” she explained. “We provide a service that we are proud of and that people deserve.” All patients always work with a physical therapist rather than an assistant or a technician. Furthermore, the physical therapists at OPTI use science-based, proven methods rather than trends that come and go within the industry.

They also spend a lot of time teaching and educating their patients on how to properly move with pain and injury. Brent explained that the nervous system takes over after injury or surgery, making people more tense, which leads to fear of movement and increased pain. “We have created a treatment approach that is gentle and allows patients to actually look forward to their physical therapy appointments,” he said. “We talk about how to interpret discomfort and how to respond properly with movements that allow the nervous system to calm down, resulting in re-gaining mobility in a more comfortable manner. It’s never a forceful approach.  We do not push our patients through pain.” The result is that their patients often have fewer sessions, which saves money, and their recoveries are quicker. 

Geri McKenna has had a frozen shoulder and two knee replacements. She went to another physical therapy clinic for her shoulder and then went to OPTI for her knees. “The other place did not provide any hands on care or one-on-one instruction on how to perform my exercises,” she said. “At OPTI, I had Katie’s full attention the whole time. She didn’t try to push me through any pain, and I got movement back much quicker. I’ve also been able to work through other issues, such as my back, and do it without taking medication.”

Katie and Brent have also incorporated the Athletes In Motion (AIM) program into their clinic to allow athletes a safe transition back into sports. “Recovery is just as much mental as it is physical,” Brent said. “By integrating sport-specific skills within the PT protocol, it gives the athlete the confidence and the ability to play their sport again.”  They take patients to their AIM clinic inside of the Omaha Sports Complex and practice soccer, football, or baseball specific skills on the turf surface, or to places such as Common Ground in Elkhorn for court sports such as basketball and volleyball. They’ve also accompanied swimmers and hockey players to local pools and rinks. 

Former UNL soccer player Mayme Conroy had physical therapy at OPTI after her ACL surgery in high school and was able to continue her soccer career into college and at the semi-professional level despite her injury. The national return to play rate following an ACL reconstruction surgery is 44%, whereas at OPTI it’s 95%.  “My recovery was quicker than my teammates who had similar surgeries,” she said. She had such a successful recovery in high school that she drives from Lincoln now to do rehab at OPTI after sustaining a different injury. 

Katie and Brent and their staff work with people of all ages and try to make their clinic a fun, supportive, and friendly environment. Katie and Brent know there’s a difference between PT clinics, and they want people to choose one not based off proximity to where they live, but based on the best place for their health. “If you are hurt, we can help,” Brent said. “We don’t fix people; we teach people how to help themselves.” 

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