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Physical therapist walks fine line

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Whether it's an athlete with a stress fracture trying to get back in the game or a senior citizen with a new hip trying to get back out of the wheelchair, at the small Queens PT office, the adage "no pain no gain" is an understatement to them all."Sometimes I have to be aggressive," said the center's physical therapist, Ami Shah, who deemed that aforementioned fine line "subjective."But, she added with a squint that showed her human side, "they're not treated as a piece of meat either."The medical facility opened in the back corner of the Bayside Plaza Center off Francis Lewis Boulevard in October 2004. Inside, along its plain walls, are apparatuses and machines that vary in exertion levels from sweat manufacturers to spa-like relaxers. There's the arm bike for those whose shoulders have a restricted range of motion; the large surgical balls to help partially paralyzed stroke patients regain their balance; putty for carpal tunnel injuries; the mat for stretching; treadmills; trampolines; deep-heat ultra-sounds; and, the personal favorite of many: a lunch box-size oven of hot wax in which patients dip their hand seven times and let it dry, softening muscles and loosening joints so that, as Shah explains, "the pain becomes limited before I start in.""It's like a glove, but nice and hot," she said. "They love it."So why is bringing the pain so gratifying for Shah, a six-year veteran of the field?"People come in here in wheelchairs and walkers and I see them walk out of here on their own feeling confident," she said. "It's a motivation for me."But despite Shah's skills and the allures of hot wax and jelly-coated ultra-sounds, customer traffic at Bayside Physical Therapy is down.Maria Quentin, the manager, blames the low blue scaffold that has shadowed the entire plaza since a project started in the spring to build a second story. Work has been stalled since November, Quentin said, and, as a result, so has business."Everything was beautiful and then the construction started and it got ugly and cramped. I feel like I'm under a tunnel," she said. "It's really been a big mess."Quentin previously worked as a medical technician at a doctor's office in Whitestone until an acquaintance - who requested that he not be named - asked her to run his newest of several physical therapy locations he has opened nationwide."I knew nothing about physical therapy," she said. "But I've worked in medical offices for 20 years. They're all pretty much the same."And for any therapy-related matters - like instructing how best and often to take to that trampoline with one foot - she does have Ami Shah.Reach reporter Zach Patberg at news@timesledger.com or at 718-229-0300, Ext. 155.

Posted 7:02 pm, October 10, 2011
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