As Kyle Keeley was preparing to go to college on a football scholarship, he knew he wanted to become an optometrist. His plans quickly changed, however, when he was injured and had to participate in physical therapy. The interactive characters of his physical therapists intrigued him, and he decided that’s what he wanted to do. He was going to become a physical therapist.

Keeley is now the oldest physical therapist in Paris, and he is the administrator of the Physical Therapy Clinic of Paris.

A broken hip, dislocated shoulder and torn ACL are a few of the many injuries that may affect someone’s everyday activities for the rest of their life without the aid of physical therapy.

According to American Physical Therapy Association’s “About Physical Therapist Careers,” the reason many patients pursue physical therapy services is so they may “benefit from the highly individualized, ‘hands on’ approach that characterizes physical therapist care.” This type of one-on-one care can be found through many physical therapists in the area.

Keeley said the key factor at his clinic is the experience they have there, and rightfully so — he’s been with the clinic for 35 years.

“You can have knowledge without wisdom, and I feel like I am now at a place as a physical therapist where I can apply the wisdom to different cases. We’re here to help people and assist them and their needs.” he said.

Another physical therapist at the same location is Chris Carter, who has been working at Physical Therapy Clinic of Paris for 27 years. Beginning as a patient at the clinic, he went to school and decided to join the place that helped him.

“I always tell people that it’s not a job. It’s just what I like to do every day,” Carter said. “We have great staff, and it’s kind of a family atmosphere. The neat thing about this setting is that people tend to get better quickly, and we get to meet a lot of people and see a lot of improvement. It’s been a good 27 years.”

The newest addition to the clinic is Avery Drennen. Drennen, 24, just recently moved here to begin working, but her experience with the clinic and its clients has been great.

“I love developing relationships with my patients and following them from beginning to end,” Drennen said. “Meeting their needs and giving them that one-on-one attention is amazing. I love seeing patients getting excited about being able to do what they love to do again. Those success stories are what keeps me doing it.”

A one-time Physical Therapy Clinic of Paris physical therapist, Jason Warren has branched out and now offers services through Red River Valley Physical Therapy, 2710 E. Price St. in Paris. He opened his own clinic in 2006.

Warren also suffered a football-related injury, for which he sought physical therapy. That provided him the opportunity to change his plans from becoming a lawyer to becoming a physical therapist.

“From that point on, I saw what they did for me, and I totally switched my game plan,” Warren said. “When you get your prescription, we try to get you in within 24 hours. It’s one-on-one care here, and it’s not just a group of people exercising together. We are changing people’s lives, and they are becoming more independent.”

Each therapist has something in common — a desire to help people. Without the compassion and motivation these therapists exude, Paris’ physical therapy clinics would not be able to meet the needs of their patients as well as they do.

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