Physical therapists Jodi Berger and Kerry Kress are proud of their (very) personal expertise.
Jodi Berger and Kerry Kress, who co-own In Balance Physical Therapy and Pelvic Health, know they serve a niche market. They focus their practice exclusively on treating pelvic-floor issues, which is a tricky area for a therapist.
“It takes a significant amount of time to become comfortable with this intimate part of the body. You need the right personality and skill level [to work as a pelvic-floor physical therapist],” explains Berger, 44.
Despite this, their two offices — one recently expanded space in Owings Mills and one in Catonsville — are busy places. The therapists treat men, women and children.
“Our biggest challenge is meeting demand for services,” says Berger. “We’d like to grow further, but we don’t have enough bodies to do what we do.”
In Balance began in 2009 as Berger’s solo venture in treating pelvic-floor issues. The business grew rapidly.
“[I was] approached at the end of 2012 by a publicly traded physical therapy group who wanted to purchase the business, because it’s a niche in PT that other practices [don’t] focus on,” Berger says.
But the larger company model didn’t work well for the pelvic-floor patients, she adds. The company “needed us to see more patients an hour, and we need that one-on-one time.”
Kress, 43, says that with pelvic-floor therapy, “you’re dealing with such intimate issues, patients come in with a lot of anxiety already. There’s an emotional side. You have to look at the whole person.”
“It’s not like fixing a knee or a hip or a back,” Berger agrees. “We need to spend more time with patients and can’t triple- or quadruple-book appointments.”
Because of the time requirement, “it’s not the hugest moneymaker,” Berger acknowledges.
Recognizing that her specialty didn’t fit well in a large-volume, clinical setting, Berger bought back the business in 2015, taking Kress, an employee of the larger company, with her. Berger said that she knew “having a partner was the right thing to do,” and that Kress would make an “awesome” one.
Now with double the space, three additional physical therapists, front office staff and support techs, Berger — who earned her physical therapy credentials at the University of Maryland School of Medicine — says she wishes she’d gone into business with a partner sooner.
“Kerry and I have a great relationship. Teamwork and having people to rely on” has made their success possible.
Adds Kress: “We can take vacations now, knowing that patients will receive a consistency of care, which is really good.”
Kress also has an MBA, which she says, “has been useful.”
She’s pleased she found her way to practicing physical therapy because it’s about helping people — deeply, intimately.
“The way medicine is today, doctors don’t get a lot of that one-on-one time,” Kress says. “We get the luxury — because we are a pelvic clinic — of spending a lot of time with patients.”
Erica Rimlinger is a freelance writer based in Towson.