DeKALB – A lot has changed for workers since the late 1970s.
Since then, desks with computers have become the standard workspace, forcing an aging population of baby boomers to find other ways to become active. The transition hasn’t been totally smooth.
“We do see some effects of working in front of a computer or a workstation and the postural things that happen and the strain on the neck, shoulders and arms that result in painful conditions,” Northern Rehab President Ken Olson said. “Computer-related pain wasn’t really an issue 30 years ago.”
Nowadays, an estimated 186 million work days are lost each year to back pain alone in the U.S., according to the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons. Northern Rehab has been there every step of the way and this year is celebrating 35 years in DeKalb County.
Tim Dunlop started the physical therapy clinic in 1978 with a private practice that was located on South Second Street in DeKalb. Now, Northern Rehab boasts four locations: One each in Genoa and Rochelle and two in DeKalb. They treat a variety of physical conditions.
“We specialize in spine, head, back, neck and vestibular issues, which are balance and dizziness issues,” Director of Community Relations Deb Loitz said. “We have different types of hands-on therapy that we do if you have surgery and need physical therapy or if you were injured.”
Olson, a Maple Park native and Northern Illinois University graduate, who now lives in Sycamore, joined the group 17 years ago as a staff therapist and became its president in 2006. He says the industry has changed a lot over three decades.
“Thirty years ago, physical therapy was more focused on using modalities like hot and cold, ultrasound and electric stimulation with a little bit of exercise and manual therapy mixed in,” he said. “Now, it’s much more focused on the active exercise approach and combining that with manual therapy, and minimizing the use of the other modalities.”
Olson specializes in spinal treatments and believes there are a lot of reasons behind more people seeking physical therapy now than 35 years ago.
“The aging population is a part of it, but also people trying to stay active longer in their lives and not being satisfied with their physical impairment and seeking to repair or restore their motion and their mobility,” Olson said.