Spine & Rehab Specialists August 2019


6358 EDGEMERE BLVD. EL PASO, TEXAS 79925 915-562-8525

1779 N. ZARAGOZA ST., SUITE A EL PASO, TEXAS 79936 915-855-6466

FROM HOLLAND TO HERE WHY I OPENED SPINE & REHAB SPECIALISTS While I’ve practiced in Texas for more than 30 years now, I wasn’t raised wearing cowboy boots in 100-degree heat. In fact, when my flight from the Netherlands first landed in Houston back in the 1980s, the blistering temperature and 102% humidity knocked me flat. It was a big culture shock — particularly because everything I knew about my new hometown came from a one- paragraph encyclopedia description — but I was still excited to start practicing physical therapy in a new country. My journey from Holland to El Paso, where I opened Spine & Rehab Specialists in 1997, was a winding one. In the beginning, physical therapy wasn’t part of my plan. As a child growing up in the Netherlands, I was always working in the yard, and I wanted a career that would combine my passion for agriculture with my sharp mind. I thought I’d attend my country's prestigious agricultural university, but, when I got a peek behind the curtain, I realized no one studying there was getting their hands dirty. They were all wearing white lab coats and doing chemistry experiments. Disappointed, I tagged along with some friends to an open house at a local PT school, and instead of raising plants, I decided I’d use my hands to help people.

country has considered physical therapy a respected profession for perhaps longer than anywhere else in the world. Its national physical therapy association predates America’s by more than three decades, and, as early as the 1970s, PT was considered practically primary care. By the time I graduated, there was actually a glut of physical therapists in the job market. Fortunately, other countries knew the PT schools in the Netherlands were the best, and headhunters descended on my graduating class. I quickly partnered with a Chicago-based firm that helped with my American license and visa and even paid for my plane ticket and lodging. It was a smooth transition that lead to a turbulent few years after landing. Though I loved my adopted country, I struggled to find a practice that was a good fit for me. I worked with close to 20 different practices across the U.S., but something always bugged me at each one. My biggest worry was that many of them seemed more concerned about getting through volume than actually helping patients. I was expected to see more than 30 patients each day, and I knew they weren’t reaping the full benefits of the manual therapy I specialized in. Once, I walked into a therapy gym and saw 12 patients waiting for me. There was no way I could work with 12 patients at once, and I knew then I wanted to open my own clinic. In 1997, a bad car accident convinced me to pull the trigger on private practice. I could easily have died in the crash, and the two kids who caused the accident were left with major brain trauma. I realized then that life is short, so it’s important to do what’s in your heart while it’s still beating. Two

months later, I opened Spine & Rehab specialists.

While we’ve grown from a two- person team and a single office to two locations and a staff of over 30, my values remain the same. At each of our clinics, we emphasize manual physical therapy and put our patients first, giving each one the quality care and education they deserve and striving to improve their lives beyond their expectations. Though I’m less hands-on now than I was at the start, my staff — including my wonderful wife and business partner, Bonnie — shares my expertise, drive, and vision. Right now, our office is buzzing about a change in Texas law, set to go into effect Sept. 1, that will allow people to make physical therapy appointments without first consulting their doctors. It’s a truly exciting development that means we’ll soon be able to help even more of our fellow Texans. I’m looking forward to what the future will bring!

I was in the perfect place to dive into a career in PT because my home

– Harry Koster

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