ARC Physical Therapy: Keeping Chicago On the Move
Sep 29, 2016 06:31PM
By Sheila Julson
As licensed physical therapists, Kevin Cronin, founder and president of ARC Physical Therapy, along with co-owner John Christiansen, help their patients achieve a higher quality of life by staying on top of new developments in their field. They specialize in Fascial Counterstrain, a cutting-edge technique developed and fine-tuned within the last decade that focuses on fascia—the connective web of tissue that runs throughout the body and covers nerves, veins and organs—and its effect on body motion.
Both therapists had always had an interest in health care. Cronin worked as an athletic trainer while in college, and he recalls how athletes that had difficulty recovering from injuries would be referred to a local physical therapist. “The physical therapist would come to the training room to treat the guys, and I became fascinated by the techniques and asked if I could watch him work,” he says. He was accepted at Northwestern University Physical Therapy School.
While in college, Christiansen wanted to be a doctor and specialize in sports medicine. As for physical therapy, “It came to me,” he says. The director of his athletic training program, Dr. Jerry Bell, was also a physical therapist and influenced Christiansen to pursue the profession.
Cronin opened ARC Physical Therapy in 1996, and Christiansen joined the ARC team in 2000. In addition to having a like-minded approach toward treating patients, they both had practiced a technique called Strain Counterstrain, a method developed during the 1950s by osteopathic physician Dr. Lawrence Jones.
Cronin had first encountered Strain Counterstrain while visiting the Pacific Northwest and participating in a continuing education class led by Jones, who immediately noticed that Cronin had mechanical dysfunction from years of competitive sports injuries. After Jones used Cronin as a model to demonstrate his Strain Counterstrain technique, Cronin immediately felt better and immersed himself in the method so he could help his patients.
Before Christiansen teamed up with ARC, he was exposed to Strain Counterstrain through a weekend course. When Christiansen joined ARC, he and Cronin studied new methods of Strain Counterstrain that were being researched by Brian Tuckey, a Maryland-based physical therapist. Those groundbreaking studies became known as Fascial Counterstrain, a method that took Jones’ work further by addressing inflammation in the fascia.
“Groundbreaking research studies and Tuckey’s work have changed our thinking on what fascia is,” Cronin says. “John and I had both been taught that fascia was inert tissue that was just there, but Tuckey understood that fascia is a sensory organ in the body that causes all inflammation.”
Fascial Counterstrain is a gentle manual technique that can treat any painful condition caused by dysfunctions in the body. The process involves the patient lying on a table while the therapist manually works the fascial structure until the nerve endings in the fascia are “reset,” halting the inflammation in the area.
“There are nerve endings in fascia, and once they’re irritated through injuries or bad posture, they become sensitive to stress and start producing inflammatory chemicals,” Cronin explains. “Fascia also connect through the spinal cord to the skeletal muscles, like the hamstrings or triceps, causing the muscles they connect with to become tighter. That affects range of motion and comfort, but by treating the fascia, you’re decreasing tightness in the muscle.”
In addition to Fascial Counterstrain, ARC also offers pelvic floor physical therapy, designed for strengthening pelvic floor muscles to help incontinence and pelvic pain. Unlike traditional physical therapy settings where the therapist sees more than one patient at a time in a fitness room setting, ARC’s patients are treated one on one in private treatment rooms, receiving individualized attention.
“There are a lot of people walking around without pain but in a lot of dysfunction,” Christiansen observes. “Some therapists help people strengthen and feel okay for a little while, but the dysfunction is still there. Instead of focusing just on exercise, we want to correct the underlying dysfunctions to get long-lasting results. I’m inspired by the daily miracle of seeing patients feel better.”
Cronin loves his job so much that he says it doesn’t even feel like work. “It’s so much fun to watch people get better and improve their quality of life. We’re grateful that we can do that for people, and I’m thankful every day for Strain Counterstrain and Fascial Counterstrain.”
ARC Physical Therapy has locations in Chicago, Elmhurst, Hinsdale, Orland Park and Westmont. For more information, call 630-832-6919 or visit ARC-PT.com. See ad on page 22.
Sheila Julson is a Milwaukee-based freelance writer and regular contributor to Natural Awakenings magazines throughout the country.