Thirty years of insight

Since 2014 marks Tidewater Physical Therapy’s 30th anniversary, we took the opportunity to ask our longest tenured employee – Joe Whalen, clinical director of our Lewes (West), DE location – some questions about his experience over the years both at Tidewater Physical Therapy and within the physical therapy industry.

Since you started in the physical therapy industry, what has been the most significant changes and advancements you have seen?

The biggest difference I’ve seen is how our patients are interested in [their] health and well-being. They’re trying to become healthier and be active longer. When I first started in the field, it was extremely rare to see a patient at our clinic in their 90s but now we see two to three “90-somethings” in one day. As the patient population is more willing to understand their bodies, they are staying healthier longer.

Did you start working at Tidewater Physical Therapy when it opened or shortly thereafter?

I started working at Tidewater Physical Therapy shortly after it opened. Tidewater Physical Therapy was established in Easton in 1984 and I started working part-time with the founder, Dr. Jim Downs, in 1985 in Easton. Then in 1986, I worked in the company’s second location, in Seaford, DE, when it opened. I then began working in Tidewater Physical Therapy’s fourth location – Lewes (West), DE – in 1987. 


What is one of your best memories in terms of Tidewater Physical Therapy’s history, i.e. when Tidewater Physical Therapy finally expanded to double-digit numbers in terms of clinics, when new best-practices were implemented, etc.

My best memory was when I hit my 25th anniversary in the Lewes (West) office. To date, we’ve been here for a total of 27 years. It really hit me when we hit the 25th year mark as it proved to me our staying power. 


What do you believe Tidewater Physical Therapy’s secret formula is that has allowed you to be such a long-tenured employee?

The difference in our practice versus other physical therapy clinics is that, as a clinical director, I’m not just working for Tidewater Physical Therapy, rather I have the knowledge that “this is my practice” and the feeling that “these are my patients.” I enjoy the feeling knowing that I am in this practice making a difference and I’m not just “another” employee (like if I was at another physical therapy company). 

What is the best part of your job?

The best part of my job is seeing patients obtain their goals and watching them being able to go back to performing their daily activities without pain.

About Joe Whalen

Joe is the clinical director of our DE clinic. He received his Bachelors of Science and a Certificate of Proficiency in Physical Therapy from the University of Delaware in 1980. He joined TPT in 1986. Joe received his certification in manual therapy from the Institute of Graduate Physical Therapy in St. Augustine, FL. He is a member of the American Physical Therapy Association’s Special Section for treatment of Geriatric patients and has recently attended courses in Geriatric exercise, manual therapy for the geriatric patient and advanced techniques in strain-counterstrain treatment. Joe relies on over 35 years of continuing education in the field of orthopedic manual therapy and uses an eclectic approach combining his training in joint mobilization, counter strain, myofascial release, muscle energy techniques, soft tissue mobilization, and trigger point treatment to effectively treat all types of musculoskeletal dysfunctions.