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WORC: Washington Hospital’s Outpatient Rehabilitation Center Helps Patients Heal

WORC: Washington Hospital’s Outpatient Rehabilitation Center Helps Patients Heal

WORC: Washington Hospital’s Outpatient Rehabilitation Center Helps Patients Heal

Physical Therapy May Be Overlooked as a Pain Solution

“Physical therapy is a low-risk and highly effective treatment for reducing and managing pain, and increasing mobility, strength and stamina,” says Matt Stauffer, DPT. Stauffer is the new Clinic Manager of Washington Hospital’s Outpatient Rehabilitation Center (WORC), located at 39141 Civic Center Drive in Fremont, a spacious and welcoming facility that provides outpatient sports medicine and rehabilitation services. WORC serves anyone who needs physical therapy (PT) who is not an admitted patient in a hospital.

The physical therapists at WORC use physical and occupational therapy techniques to treat sports-related and postsurgical musculoskeletal injuries. They also frequently treat chronic and degenerative conditions in the spine and joints, such as arthritis. In addition, WORC will soon be offering vestibular rehabilitation therapy, which targets a patient’s balance, dizziness and vertigo symptoms.

“Patients come to WORC with an issue or dysfunction that is keeping them from doing something that they really desire to do. Good physical therapists help patients zero in on their specific goals, and then guide them to meet or exceed those goals. The most rewarding part of my work,” says Stauffer, “is seeing patients right after their injury all the way through to their recovery.”

Physical therapy should treat the whole patient, not just the localized injury. Additional benefits from physical therapy can include reducing fatigue, anxiety, stress and sleep disorders. At WORC, patients may be primarily seeking treatment for an orthopedic injury or pain, but many come in with other health challenges relating to an underlying condition. “We see patients who may have long-haul COVID complications or other residual symptoms from an illness on top of their orthopedic concern. They may have lost muscle mass, endurance, and cardiovascular strength as a result. Our job is to improve the quality of their life across the board. At WORC, we focus on helping the entire person,” says Stauffer.

While most patients who seek PT services do so with a prescription or referral from a doctor, Stauffer explains that California is a Direct Access state, meaning that physical therapists are able to perform rehabilitation therapy without a doctor’s referral. “However, there are some limitations set by the law,” he says. “A patient can be seen for up to 12 visits without a doctor’s note. But if they want or need to be seen beyond that, patients must be referred to a physician for an evaluation and referral.”

Stauffer says that for physical therapy to be effective, the clinic environment should be calm and inviting. “The first thing you should expect when you come to us is that everyone is friendly and helpful. Therapists must be good listeners to meet their patients’ needs.” At WORC, the staff work hard to match therapeutic treatment and goals to their patients’ actual lives. This can include assigning patients to therapists of their choice of gender, and listening carefully to their concerns about what their therapy might entail. “It's all about listening to patients. It is important for us to avoid approaching our patients with preconceptions about their home or work-life and what they want to accomplish. A physical therapist can have a terrific treatment plan, but it just might not work for a particular individual.

At WORC, we really try to be receptive to what our patients are going through, and to offer exercise regimens that are realistic and achievable in their lives, so that they can make measurable progress.”

The largest percentage of WORC patients are seen for orthopedic sports medicine, either following surgery or as the first line of treatment to heal an injury. From treating concussions to extremity injuries, WORC therapists help athletes and physically active people return to their prior level of activity. Stauffer says that the most successful patients are those that are committed to improving their condition and who want to learn how to avoid further injury. “Physical therapists are educators as well as clinicians. Our responsibilities include teaching our patients about their treatment strategy and about preventing injuries in the future. We see the greatest progress with patients who are engaged and ask a lot of questions. Patients who come to us motivated and willing to put in the work are able to optimize the results of their physical therapy.”

Among WORC’s specialized therapy programs is its Legacy Strength Training Program that is designed to provide patients with “slow-motion” exercise using specialized equipment. Typically, patients participate in the Legacy Program prior to surgery to build up their strength, or once they have completed regular physical therapy. Stauffer explains, “The Legacy Program is a circuit training regimen. WORC has exercise machines that we set to fit the patient. The workout uses slow movement and repetition to build strength without excessive pressure on joints or muscle tissue. It is most appropriate for patients with a chronic injury, arthritis, degenerative disease, or a history of surgery. It is ideal for individuals who want to build muscle in a safe and controlled way, supervised by a certified personal fitness coach.”

Washington Outpatient Rehabilitation Center is located at 39141 Civic Center Drive in Fremont. To find out more about its sports medicine and Legacy Strength Training programs, call 510.794.9672 or visit