Atlantic Physical Therapy builds strength

Coastal Point • Submitted: At Atlantic Physical Therapy in West Fenwick, reporter Laura Walter only needs to support a fraction of her own body weight while walking on the AlterG Anti-Gravity Treadmill.Coastal Point • Submitted: At Atlantic Physical Therapy in West Fenwick, reporter Laura Walter only needs to support a fraction of her own body weight while walking on the AlterG Anti-Gravity Treadmill.A boxing injury pulled Bobby Hammond out of the ring when he was younger, but physical therapy helped him climb back in the ring a few months later.

Today, the physical therapist helps other people regain their strength through rehabilitation at Atlantic Physical Therapy’s newest location, in West Fenwick.

“Our goal is to implement a life change,” said Hammond, adding that he hopes patients “live a healthier life, a pain-free life, which ultimately is a safer life.”

His father, Robert Hammond, first opened the Ocean Pines, Md., location of APT in 1998, adding locations in Salisbury, Md., Laurel, Del., Millsboro and just recently in West Ocean City, Md.

“People come in for such a broad range of things,” said Bobby Hammond, company vice president. “Everyone’s treatment is tailored to them.”

Therapists help with previous fractures, falls, post-operative care, stroke victims, Parkinson’s patients, sports injuries, neurological rehab, automobile- and work-related injuries and more.

“We go through exercises with the patients. It’s constant one-on-one supervision,” Hammond said. “We’re coaching them through the whole experience, and I think that makes us unique.”

He said empathy is part of his approach to physical therapy.

“We treat them the same way I would treat my mother. You have to have compassion.”

Hammond admitted that therapy isn’t always easy.

“When you have pain, typically you don’t want to move. The last thing you want to do is exercise,” he said.

But exercise is needed for improvement to happen, so Hammond helps people make exercise a habit.

When people visit Atlantic Physical Therapy, they’ll do a variety of exercises for one hour. They can even approach weightlessness on the AlterG Anti-Gravity Treadmill.

On this special treadmill, people step into a special holster that inflates around their legs, so people are only carrying as little as 20 percent of their body weight. That can work wonders for someone trying to regain his strength.

Hammond said he had a woman who “hadn’t walked in five years. I started her at 20 percent,” and she worked her way up.

The machine is also used by Olympic athletes and other professional teams.

“A lot of our people do really well,” such as the Alzheimer’s patient who walks freely when she used to freeze, or the golfer who worked though shoulder pain.

Whether limited motion is caused by Parkinson’s or a recent knee replacement, Atlantic Physical Therapy can help people regain their range of motion and independence.

After going through PT herself, office manager Jennifer Cooper can speak firsthand about the experience.

“It’s nice to see the improvement,” Cooper said. “A lot of people who need physical therapy needed it for a long time. It’s nice to feel the relief … to be able to do the things you could do before the injury.”

“We provide free fall-risk screenings. We focus mainly on the older population — and athletes, because we do concussion screenings,” said Cooper.

Concussion can be a big risk for athletes, especially in contact sports. Student-athletes are welcome to get a free screening now, so if anything happens later, doctors can see the difference. Hammond said a strong athlete might have better balance in a concussed state than some people in a regular state, so it’s best to compare their specific condition before and after.

“It’s not an injury you can see,” Hammond emphasized.

They also do fall-risk assessments for people with balance issues, which they can show their regular doctor, who can further assess the situation, possibly recommending physical therapy.

One patient, Diane Cikanovich, 63, of Ocean City, Md., fell while playing tennis at Sea Colony. Even after her broken wrist healed, there was ligament and tendon damage. She spent several months in physical therapy, finally finishing with strength training.

Originally, her injured right hand only handled 14 pounds of strength, but now it’s at 42 pounds (versus her left hand, at 65 pounds). She has played tennis since she was 11 and, after the wintertime accident, started playing again in March.

It’s like a family, Cikanovich said of her fellow clients, “because you get on the same rotation [as other clients]. You kind of talk while you’re doing it. It makes it go faster if you’re a little friendlier.”

To learn more, contact Atlantic Physical Therapy at (302) 564-7476 or This location is found at 37031 Old Mill Bridge Road, West Fenwick. To accommodate all working schedules, the office is open Monday through Thursday from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., and until 4 p.m. on Fridays.