Patients walking into a new physical-therapy clinic in Forest Acres are greeted with the sweet smell of lavender and the soothing rhythms of jazz music played through the office speakers.
The Carolina Women’s Physical Therapy and Wellness rehabilitation facility at 4105 Forest Drive is among the first of its kind in the Columbia area, catering specifically to the physical therapy needs of women.
The calming, single-sex atmosphere is meant to offer a sense of comfort and privacy for women receiving care for a variety of physical ailments, said Dawn Chambers-Lynch, the practicing physician, who works with patients one-on-one.
“You are spending quality time with me. Patients are very excited when they come in; they are surprised at the setting,” Chambers-Lynch said. “They don’t have to worry about who is watching them and they can really focus on what they are here for and that is getting better.”
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Physical therapy in a co-ed setting can often be intimidating for female patients, said Chambers-Lynch, who graduated from Purdue University and later received her Master of Physical Therapy from the Medical College of Georgia and her Doctor of Physical Therapy degree from A.T. Still University.
Catering to women’s needs specifically in a unisex environment can improve the treatment process, she said, by helping patients relax and focus. The one-on-one atmosphere also helps Chambers-Lynch track patients’ progress through rehab and makes it easier for her to identify when adjustments to treatment need to be made, she said.
Patient Sally Patterson said she appreciates the attentiveness.
“It makes you feel comfortable and it makes you feel like they are here to make you feel better,” she said.
The Columbia native travels a lot for her job as a project manager for the Military Child Education Coalition, a nonprofit organization based out of Austin, Texas, and receives treatment for a pinched nerve that can make all of that traveling difficult.
“I can sit longer, I can drive in a car longer and I can work at my computer longer because I often work from home,” Patterson said.
The practice tackles a range of physical problems affecting women, including a variety of orthopedic and sports-related injuries. However, the rehabilitation center also focuses on medical issues specifically found or more common in women, such as osteoporosis, pre- and post-partum pain and pelvic floor dysfunctions.
Chambers-Lynch said, “I want (women) to know that a lot of these issues are not a part of aging but there is something that physical therapy can do that significantly improves their quality of life.”