Julie Knowles has a long-standing history in Southern Delaware as both a physical therapist and athletic trainer.
Knowles’ family founded Southern Delaware Physical Therapy 31 years ago. She eventually took over its six locations and quickly became a respected figure for her outpatient therapy practice.
She also became an active volunteer, working with athletes as a member of the U.S. Olympic training team, and she continues to work with local programs, such as the annual Special Olympics Blue-Gold game.
In 2014, Knowles decided to merge with former colleagues and sell her practices, forming what is now known as Pivot Physical Therapy. The idea behind Pivot was intriguing for Knowles, combining physical therapy and athletic training.
“The goal was to combine athletic training and physical therapy so we could treat patients in the same comprehensive way that we were treating athletes,” Knowles said. “Back then, you didn’t have that. Physical therapy didn’t involve a lot of functional progression and exercising.”
While Knowles helped Pivot start in Delaware, her attention to both teaching and working with local programs doesn’t leave much time for the day-to-day work. She began looking for someone to take the reins, and she found that in Jeffrey Seakan, who has now taken over as the clinical director of the Rehoboth location.
Seakan is a licensed doctor of physical therapy and a certified athletic trainer. He has worked with athletes throughout his career, which includes training camp for Syracuse University’s Division I football program and Binghamton Senators AHL hockey team. He also performed functional movement screenings at the Washington Capitals’ rookie training camp. He began working with Pivot in Pasadena, Md., seven years ago and moved to the Rehoboth location in 2017. He was promoted to clinical director this year.
“There’s big shoes to fill with [Knowles], of course, but I’ve always had a passion for it,” Seakan said.
Seakan spoke of Delaware and Pivot, saying, “Being an older population, things are a little different here, but we handle it the same way, whether it’s getting players back on the field or getting people back to walking on the beach. It’s the same thing regardless of age, and that’s the great thing about Pivot.
“A lot of patients are surprised by the way we do things,” Seakan said.
“Everyone comes in with a set of goals. If their goal is to ride a bike, then we get them on a bike. We try to simulate what’s going to happen in the real world and do it here…. Every patient gets a program specialized to what they need and what they want to do.”
This process begins with a screening, checking for mobility and strength. This screening shows the therapists what needs to be worked on and what could be prevented in the future. Then a program is created to help patients get back to what they want to do.
Pivot also looks toward new forms of therapy, such as dry needling, a technique in which specialized needles are inserted into the muscle, releasing tension.
Seakan looks to continue to build Pivot in Delaware, serving local athletic programs as well as any patient in need of help.