Matthew Audia is a concierge physical therapist, who provides a uniquely skilled level of physical therapy to help patients with a stroke, brain injury, and various other neurological injuries reach their functional goals.
As care managers and patient advocates we are always looking to connect with the best local specialists to provide our patients with the quality care they need and deserve. Grace Care Management is grateful for the work Matthew provides to help our patients on their journey toward rehabilitation and the results we have seen have been life changing. In this up close interview, Matthew shares with us his background, the unique Neuro-IFRAH approach he practices and details about his company, Audia Physical Therapy.
What is your background as a physical therapist?
In 2005, I graduated from Northeastern University in Boston with a Bachelor of Science in Rehabilitation Science and a Master’s Degree in Physical Therapy. I began my career in acute rehabilitation specializing in working with patients with a stroke or brain injury. Basically my job was to get them back on their feet and independent enough to go home safely. Unfortunately, after a short time I saw the severe limitations of the rehabilitation program I was working in (at that time it was ranked in the top 10 in the country) and figured there had to be a better way to help these people recover. They were leaving with severe limps, heavy compensation mechanisms, and almost no arm or hand function at all. I decided to get all the continuing education I could to become better than the system I worked for.
Since that point, I have become certified and advanced certified in Neuro-IFRAH (a specialized technique for working with patients with a stroke or brain injury), Mulligan Mobilization with Movement (specialized manual therapy for the recovery of pain free movement), taken over 600 hours of continuing education courses, and worked in almost every rehabilitation setting that physical therapy can offer (ICU, acute care, acute rehab, long term acute care, skilled nursing facilities, home care, and both neurologic and orthopedic outpatient settings). This experience has taught me wonderful lessons that I could not have seen by staying in one place and following conventional wisdom. Now I work with patients in recovery to achieve normal walking patterns, arm, and hand function. Today my evaluation and treatment thinks “outside the box” of conventional wisdom and works to create full recovery instead of just mass compensation.
Leaving that first job to pursue a superior way to help patients recover was the hardest first step to get where I am today. I didn’t always see eye to eye with the director of the stroke program on issues regarding patient management but when I left the department to move on she not only gave me an exceptional recommendation, but she told me “Matt, I think you will always succeed in the best way because you truly love your patients and will do anything to see them get better.” It is the love of what I do, and what I can do for a person, that drives me to improve as a therapist every day.
Can you tell us about the Neuro-IFRAH technique you use? What makes this unique to standard practice?
Neuro-IFRAH is a complete approach to the physical evaluation and treatment of patients with a stroke and/or brain injury. What makes the approach unique to standard practice is the ability it gives the practitioner to take a patient through the rehabilitation process, from the lowest starting point in most severe cases to the point of complete rehabilitation, without relying on heavy compensation that will cause injuries and limitations later in life. Too much of rehabilitation has been taught under the “it’s not a very pretty way of doing it, but it’s functional” mantra when referring to the quality of patient functional movement. In other words, a person may be able to walk independently across the room but he or she may be hiking up the hip, dragging a straight leg, holding the arm tight against the chest with the hand in a fist, and turning the foot all the way inward. My professors and early mentors would repeat this mantra all the time in school. The problem with that attitude is that eventually the patient is met with injuries from poor movement and functional plateaus that keep them from reaching long term goals. I believe that motivated patients will see significant improvement when they understand and agree with the process of rehabilitation under a very skilled physical therapist.
The Neuro-IFRAH approach encompasses many different approaches and focuses on the high level of therapeutic skill along with therapist creativity to create patient recovery. It is one of the many wonderful approaches we utilize here at Audia Physical Therapy to ensure people reach their maximum rehabilitation potential. We use advanced custom orthotics and build therapeutic tools when needed to ensure the patient has the ability to reach their goals. Improving physical function while affecting and changing the nervous system towards positive outcomes is a very complex task that involves a lot rewarding work for both the patient and the therapist.
What types of patients do you generally work with?
The majority of people we specialize in seeing are patients with a stroke and/or brain injury but it is not the only population that we treat. We treat a variety of patients with complex neurological injuries ranging from spinal cord injuries (complete and incomplete), Guillian Barre Syndrome, Transverse Myelitis, and more. We also treat a wide variety of people with orthopedic injuries (back pain, joint dysfunctions, overuse injuries, etc.) that have not seen the type of recovery they want out of their previous rehabilitation experience. The use of skilled joint mobilizations, neuromuscular re-education, therapeutic exercise, and myofascial release (a specialized technique for releasing connective tissue restrictions to improve range of motion, relieve pain, and improve function) are integral parts of the treatment for these patient populations. We also see patients with neurological hand dysfunction to improve their strength and fine motor coordination in order to maximize recovering hand function.
What is the environment like at your office?
The environment is based on what is best for patient recovery. Many patients are very distractible and require private treatment areas while others thrive in open areas where they can interact with other people during their rehabilitation. We tailor and adapt the environment to meet each patient’s recovery needs and utilize many different types of therapeutic tools and surfaces to maximize patient functional outcomes.
Do you accept insurance?
We currently do not accept insurance at this time. Not accepting insurance allows us to create rehabilitation programs that best suit each individuals recovery needs, not the average patient’s needs. We understand that each person is different and progresses at different rates depending on a variety of complex factors. Our treatments can range from 30 minutes to 3 hours at a time, with varying frequencies per week in order to establish a program that maximizes individual recovery and drives patients to reach their goals. Increased intensity and frequency allows for faster improvement and the opportunity to surpass previous functional plateaus that have been reinforced by the “3x per week for 1 hour at a time” prescription of physical therapy. These types of programs move outside of traditional physical therapy standard practice (due to increased intensity and frequency) and therefore are not usually covered by insurance companies.
Are you accepting new patients and where can we find out more information?
We are currently accepting new patients although there may be a waiting list. More information for Audia Physical Therapy can be found at www.Audiaphysicaltherapy.com or email us at [email protected] We can also be found on Facebook by searching “Audia Physical Therapy.”
Feel free to contact us with any questions or to set up a personal consultation to find out more about what we do. Thank you very much for the opportunity to share our unique approach to rehabilitation with you.