Bloomington / Normal, IL

Working with the community... for a healthier community.

One-on-One Direct Access Care


By Alexander Germanis

No one on earth knows how you feel better than you. So when there’s a new ache in your knee or reaching at a specific angle sends pain coursing through your shoulder, you are the only one who knows how it feels and understands how badly you want to get rid of it.

There are professionals at Advanced Rehab and Sports Medicine Services who can help you deal with that pain and, through physical therapy, reduce it or get rid of it entirely.

Formed in Bloomington in 1997 by co-founders and physical therapists Chris Byers and Michael Salaway, Advanced Rehab eventually expanded to nine locations throughout Illinois.

But even as the company increased in size and therapy technology improved, the most important things at Advanced Rehab have not changed. “When working with our patients,” Chris says, “we’re really old school as far as being customer service and patient oriented.”

Two major components of being patient oriented are the length of the treatments and the amount of that treatment time a physical therapist dedicates to the patient.

“The average physical therapy treatment time is 30 minutes,” Chris states. “But we see people for 40 minutes. We’re also one-on-one, so when you come here you’re going to be with your therapist the whole 40 minutes. It’s one-on-one care. A lot of places have gone to two patients at the same time; they work with one patient while sending another off to do some exercise.”

“We’re with you the whole time,” confirms Bloomington Clinic Manager and Physical Therapist Drew Henneberg, DPT. For the last seven years of interacting with patients on a daily basis, he has taken that relationship with the patient very seriously. “It helps to foster the bond with the patients to where they want to come in and see us.”

Making that strong bond is extremely important as it extends beyond the clinic. “Living in this community I’m going to walk through the grocery store and I’m going to see former patients,” he continues. “So you want to know you did a good job, helped to get them better, and helped them overcome whatever obstacles they were seeing at that time. To not have that kind of attention you’re never going to get those kinds of good results.”

Direct Access
In August of 2018, Illinois enacted a law allowing patients to have direct access to physical therapy without a referral from their physician.

“For the history of therapy, you had to go to your doctor, get a prescription for physical therapy and then go to therapy,” Chris elaborates.

“It’s now really simple,” Drew adds. “It’s directly accessing care. We still take physicians’ referrals, but now a patient has easier access to care and is able to seek out providers they searched on their own. They can direct their own care.”

Direct access makes it better from the therapist’s point of view, as well. Direct access to care for patients also means therapists have a direct access of sorts to their patients. “There’s no lag in being able to formulate a plan to benefit the person coming into the clinic,” Drew explains. “The quicker we can get things moving forward and get a plan of attack to help them out, the better the results tend to be.”

Direct access has another benefit, as indicated by Advanced Rehab’s Corporate Marketing Manager Jennifer Guimond. “The American Physical Therapy Association in partnership with the CDC is educating patients to choose PT when there is pain and to avoid opioids,” she says. “Treating pain through movement and hands-on care can result in improved mobility versus opioids, which mask pain.”

Customer Service
Springing from the enactment of direct access are questions about insurance coverage.

“We have the same intake process we had before,” Chris states simply. “If you walked in to our clinic and wanted to have physical therapy on your back, we would get your insurance, we’d pre-certify it with an insurance company, make sure of your benefits—that you are covered, if you have a co-pay and what your deductable is. We find that out for you. The only thing that’s changed is you don’t have to go to your doctor first.”

Insurance is not the only hassle no one likes to deal with when they’re in pain. Most people hate dealing with simply getting an appointment slot.

“With how our clinic is set up, we are able to get patients scheduled within 24 hours of calling,” Drew proudly states. “A lot of times we can do things same day, which is really helpful if someone is in pain.”

When Jennifer visits doctors’ offices she sees frustration from their staffs when they have to send a patient to another PT clinic but can’t get patients in until two weeks after the patient calls for an appointment. “That’s a problem when you know that person is going to be in pain for two weeks before they can be seen. That’s another huge difference here. Our people will come in before work, stay after work, or skip over their lunch time in order to squeeze somebody in so they can be seen on a timely basis.”

Comfort and Care
Recovering from an injury or surgery is never a fun process. It can be a frustrating, long, and often painful grind. The physical therapists and their assistants understand that no one really wants to have to go through that. That is why making that experience as pleasant and comfortable as possible is an Advanced Rehab policy.

“The feedback we get most from patients is they love the atmosphere,” Jennifer shares. “It makes it fun to come here. Most of the time people do not want to go to physical therapy, but they do enjoy coming here.”

Creating that desirable atmosphere stems largely from the family feel Advanced Rehab sports. “We’re a small clinic in a very tightly knit community,” Drew says. So tightly knit, as a matter of fact, Drew’s wife, Jenny, is actually one of his physical therapy assistants. “We’re a physical therapist-owned and operated company and because we’re very family oriented that allows us to provide the highest level of care and be very patient focused.”

Again, that degree of care comes across in the one-on-one attention they can provide each and every patient who comes to them. “There is nothing cookie cutter about our approach,” Drew reiterates. “It’s all personalized, individualized care.”

A Little Help from Your Friends
Although understated, adding considerably to the level of comfort at Advanced Rehab is the low turnover rate of therapists. While this does mean the therapists and assistants are happy working there, it means something far more important to anyone needing help in returning to a prior level of function.

If a patient ever needs extensive therapy or perhaps needs to return for therapy down the line, they will be greeted by a familiar face and helped by an old friend.

With direct access care now available in Illinois, that old friend at Advanced Rehab and Sports Medicine Services is a step closer than they have ever been before.

For more information on any sort of pain or injury, contact Advanced Rehab & Sports Medicine at 309-664-9104 or Their office is located at 135 N. Williamsburg Dr. in Bloomington. Free assessments are offered within 24 hours of contact for patients of all ages.