Physical Therapy Specialists Clinic has a long record of giving and receiving: For more than 30 years, its practitioners have given of their time, talent and extensive expertise, and in return have received the trust of patients throughout the region.
The year was 1990 when Mary Sheid Schrag founded PTSC. An Ozarks native, Schrag discovered in college that physical therapy was the way she wanted to serve others. After graduating with her PT degree from the University of Missouri-Columbia, she initially worked at the local hospital, where she established the area's first PT program.
Prior to Schrag's return to the West Plains area, patients were often compelled to travel long distances for PT treatment. The closest therapist was two counties away, leaving approximately 10 surrounding counties unserved for rehabilitation services. Those years of work led Schrag to the significant, but not difficult - given the opportunity to serve - decision to start her own practice.
During the first six months of operation, Schrag worked part-time to help develop the clinic, which was also staffed by two individuals who decided to join her in this new endeavor.
In the years since, PTSC has evolved and expanded, with moments of note happening nearly every year.
The practice outgrew its first location, a rented office building, just two years after its start and moved to a custom-built, 10,000-square-foot facility with state-of-the-art rehabilitation equipment. Sports Medicine services were added to the clinic's offerings in the early '90s, giving a unique connection with the teams at nearby Missouri State University-West Plains, as well as West Plains and Thayer school districts.
Growth was great in the late '90s, and the time and team were right. In 1996, the decision was made to open a second location in Mountain Grove.
Sports Medicine was expanded to surrounding communities in 1997, and the next year, another brand-new building - this time, in Mountain Grove - was under construction. It was completed over Labor Day weekend in 1998.
In PTSC's history, there have been moments of growth and learning in unexpected ways. One example came in 1999, when a clinic in Houston opened to patients. As with other PTSC locations, it was outfitted with top-level equipment and staff, but local dynamics fought against the clinic's success. That location closed in 2001.
Another key moment of challenge came in 2012 through the Affordable Care Act. Around 50 percent of outpatient facilities across the country closed their doors due to resulting financial shifts - but PTSC thrived, and instead pushed its services to new heights.
The clinic has continued to grow in the decade since, recruiting and adding many high-caliber professional staff with specializations including LSVT Big certifications, which are typically used for patients with Parkinson's disease; Vestibular certifications, earned by practitioners with the highest level of evidence-based vestibular rehabilitation; Functional Movement Screens (FMS and SFMA); Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialists; and dry needling.
It's also one of only 75 clinics in the world to be certified by the McKenzie International Institute, and features both a McKenzie spine therapist and a McKenzie diplomat - prestigious categories in which there are few practitioners across the country.
In addition to treatment, PTSC has served its community through $260,000 in scholarships and donations to local non-profit organizations since 1998. After all, PTSC's work is fundamentally about service - and just as its patients do every day, the clinic has worked diligently to be the best. Today, around 20 staff members serve 2,100 patients through approximately 25,000 visits annually.
There's more to come on the history of PTSC, as new chapters - written through the lives of patients who are served and healed - happen every day.
Key moments in PTSC's history
- 1984: Mary Sheid Schrag, then Mary Hass, graduates with her Physical Therapy degree from the University of Missouri-Columbia. She begins building a brand-new PT program at West Plains Memorial Hospital, which brings services to a 10-county area.
- 1986: Schrag is elected to serve as a district representative to the Missouri Physical Therapy Association, which began a board tenure of 10 years.
- 1989: Then-Governor John Ashcroft appoints Schrag to Missouri's Advisory Commission for Physical Therapists.
- 1990: Physical Therapy Specialists Clinic is born. Two of Schrag's coworkers join her in the new endeavor.
- 1991: Schrag rents what was formerly Dr. Wiles' old office building in West Plains as PTSC's first facility.
- 1993: Property across the street from the first location is purchased for construction of a brand-new PTSC location, and work breaks ground.
- PTSC also begins offering Sports Medicine/Athletic Training, which is led by Morgan Simpson, and its first partner is the West Plains School District.
- 1994: Schrag moves into the new building, along with Tammy Barks, Chris Green and several other staff, in March. Vince Beam joins the PTSC staff in August to help expand Sports Medicine/Athletic Training services, which also includes subcontracting to Missouri State University - West Plains.
- 1995: PTSC's Sports Medicine/Athletic Training program expands to the Thayer School District.
- 1996: PTSC launches its Mountain Grove location. The clinic is initially housed in a small commercial center near Walmart, and is led by Vallie Rogers, a Mountain Grove graduate, who joined PTSC two years prior.
- 1997: James Stovall joins the Mountain Grove clinic in June and works to expand the Sports Medicine program to the surrounding communities.
- 1998: Schrag becomes a McKenzie-certified spine therapist, one of only a few hundred with such a credential in the United States.
Property is also purchased in Mountain Grove to build a brand-new location for the expanding clinic. Construction on a new 10,000-square-foot building is completed over Labor Day weekend.
1999: A location in Houston opens. Schrag purchases a building across the street from where Walmart is now located, and that building is renovated and equipped with state-of-the-art equipment. Unfortunately, the new clinic is met with great resistance from the local hospital, whose physicians receive punitive treatment from hospital administration for referring to PTSC. In early 2001, the Houston clinic closes due to adverse financial impacts on the organization.
That same year, PTSC awards its first five scholarships. The efforts continue today, and represent around $260,000 given to local students and nonprofits. The scholarship arm of PTSC's community contributions is now administered by the Community Foundation of the Ozarks, and awards two scholarships annually: One to a third-year student at Missouri State University, and another to a seventh-year PT student.
2000: Rogers becomes a McKenzie Diplomat after a three-month residency in Minnesota. The designation is held by only 1,000 people worldwide.
2021: PTSC begins significant succession planning and training of management to provide more space for young staff and clinicians to be promoted.