Building Lifelong Fitness by Marjorie Preston
Linwood physical therapy center helps maturing bodies gain and maintain strength
LINWOOD – Eleanor Hagan spent 26 years in the Atlantic City casino industry. Starting as a bartender at Bally’s Park Place, Hagan moved on to become a floor person and then a dealer at the blackjack, roulette, poker and craps tables.
All the while, she had a second career in mind – one markedly different from the first. Studying nights, weekends, during her work breaks, and in countless stolen moments in between, Hagan worked toward her goal. In 2000, she earned her master’s degree in physical therapy at the Richard Stockton College of New Jersey. She was 50.
“People always said, ‘By the time you graduate, you’re going to be too old; who’s going to want to hire you?’” said Hagan. But her age worked in her favor, she said, giving her the single-mindedness to push past obstacles and the patience to deal effectively with challenged clients.
After working in a number of health care settings – “nursing homes, subacute care homes, outpatient centers, in women’s health” – she decided to concentrate on the geriatric population.
Today Hagan is 62 years old and seems as fit and limber as a girl. She operates Body in Balance Physical Therapy & Fitness Center, new in Linwood. She is a board-certified geriatric specialist certified in Schroth scoliosis rehabilitation, and a certified exercise expert for the aging adult through the American Physical Therapy Association. She specializes in the treatment of back pain, scoliosis, balance disorders and gait dysfunctions.
Hagan’s goal is to keep older adults independent by helping them maintain strength, flexibility and balance; avoid debilitating falls; and build lifelong fitness. She treats both the “well elderly” and the “frail elderly” with cardiovascular health training, wellness education programs, home safety assessments, wound care, and Polestar Pilates for enhanced strength and range of motion.
A cornerstone of Hagan’s practice is the Biodex fall-risk screening and conditioning system, which assesses the risk of falling by measuring equilibrium and areas of muscle weakness, helps rehabilitate joint-replacement patients, boosts mobility and treats a number of orthopedic and neurological conditions.
Hagan does not limit her clientele to the senior population. The fitness center – with Keiser, Biodex and SciFit equipment – is open to adults of every age, as well as special-needs clients (Hagan’s adult daughter is mentally handicapped).
Body in Balance will also offer a concussion management program aimed at high school athletes.
The therapist, who previously worked at NovaCare and Holy Redeemer Home Care, acknowledged that she is beginning her solo practice when many people her age are retiring.
As the population ages, however, she thinks the timing is just right. She is now pursuing her doctorate.
“My vision for Body in Balance is to provide the aging population tools to live as well as possible throughout their lifespan,” Hagan said. “I’m passionate about my career.”
Body in Balance is at 314 Central Ave. For information call (609) 365-8499 or see Body in Balance on Facebook.
Friday, 06 January 2012 14:07 Marjorie Preston http://www.shorenewstoday.com/snt/news/index.php/regional/116-seniors-today/19973-building-lifelong-fitness.html
Business Editor Kevin PostpressofAtlanticCity.com
Business: Body in Balance Physical Therapy and Fitness Center
Location: 314 Central Ave., Linwood
Owner: Ellie Hagan, 61, of Northfield
Body in Balance combines physical therapy and fitness to maximize functional independence and maintain a high quality of life well beyond the therapy period.
I’m a board-certified geriatric specialist. My focus is on balance and making sure clients can stay in their homes and remain independent in the community.
I’m also certified in scoliosis rehabilitation, in the Schroth method. That involves minimizing the impact of the curvature of the spine so we can prevent young adolescents who have growth spurts from needing surgery.
We also offer a concussion program. This is through the Biodex machine, which helps the doctor determine when the young athlete can return to the sport.
For less than a dollar a day, patients done with physical therapy can become clients and continue their exercises with the fitness center.
Most people forget their exercises when they’re done with their physical therapy. By coming here a few times a week, they can maintain their strength and independence.
I also have a woman who has just been certified in geriatric Zumba, and I’ll also be offering Tai Chi for older adults.
We also offer Pilates for rehabilitation. I was trained in New York on that machine, which is used to make sure the muscles work in balance with one another.
Entry: I have a handicapped daughter and I worked with her, and my dad, who had a stroke. I was taking courses to be a nurse while working in a casino and it just veered into physical therapy.
For the last decade, I’ve dedicated my career to geriatric patients, after seeing people have to go into nursing homes when they didn’t keep up with their therapies.
I’ve worked in women’s health and nursing homes and in outpatient physical therapy, and I always wanted to have my own practice.
The challenging part is keeping up with all of the changes in health care, the documentation, billing software, and all the rules and regulations. It’s mind-boggling sometimes.
The future: I’m looking forward to having other physical therapists here as soon as I get busy enough, and possibly offer other forms of therapy. I also want to have Medicare come in and help people decide what help and coverage is best for them.