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Meet Pete Rumford of IPA Physio OC in Orange County

Today we’d like to introduce you to Pete Rumford.

Pete, let’s start with your story. We’d love to hear how you got started and how the journey has been so far.
I decided that I would be a physical therapist when I was a senior in high school in 2001. I consider it my ‘calling’. I have always had a passion for helping others, being active and living a healthy lifestyle. But I can’t say that I was convinced until a few years into my career. When I started graduate school at UC San Francisco in 2008 part of me felt like I was making a big mistake.

My wife, Katie, and I had multiple conversations about me dropping out of school and possible alternatives, but ultimately and fortunately, I continued down this road. Part of my hesitance in committing to any career was that I have a diverse set of interests, ranging from healthcare to teaching to business and finance. Ultimately, I’ve been able to merge these interests into my current situation. I treat patients, teach continuation education courses for physical therapists, and own a business. I have developed such a passion for physical therapy because of the opportunity it gives me to help others live their best life. Our physical well-being is inextricably linked to our mental, emotional, and spiritual health. The transformation that I see in my patients has dissolved all doubts that I have about my career.

Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
My road has been challenging, exciting, and so rewarding. After graduating from UCSF with my Doctorate in Physical Therapy in 2011, we stayed in the Bay Area two more years while I completed a residency in Functional Manual Therapy (FMT) and my wife earned her master’s degree (MFA Graphic Design). In August 2012, I sat for a certification exam and received the designation of Certified Functional Manual Therapist (CFMT) through the Institute of Physical Art (IPA). In 2013 my wife and I moved to Mumbai, India where I served as a clinical director and mentor to Indian physiotherapists. In 2014 we moved to New York City, where I completed a Fellowship in FMT in 2017. It was important for me to attain a certain level of training prior to branching out on my own and committing to training other therapists – and less than 1% of physical therapists are Fellowship trained. In the summer of 2017 we moved back to California to start IPA Physio OC in Irvine.

There have been ups and downs, highs and lows, and everything in between. Overall though, I am so grateful for the opportunities that I’ve had to live and train and grow in some of the greatest cities in the world.

Alright – so let’s talk business. Tell us about IPA Physio OC – what should we know?
IPA Physio OC is a partnership between myself and my colleague Ryan Johnson. IPA stands for the ‘Institute of Physical Art’. Ryan’s parents started the IPA in 1978 as a continuing education provider for physical therapists. I teach with this organization as well. We teach a specific paradigm of physical therapy called Functional Manual Therapy. Our core belief is that everybody has untapped existing potential. It is our job as the therapist to help each patient discover that potential. We see a vast array of clients at IPA Physio – people of all ages with various musculoskeletal and neurological problems. We are generalists in that sense, and we are proud of that because it allows us to truly see the body as the interconnected system that it is. Some of our clients come to us to enhance their posture and performance. But the majority of our patients are seeking resolution of pain.

Our primary goal is to enhance function, because when you improve function, most often the pain will subside. The key to enhancing function is to maximize mechanical capacity, neuromuscular function, and motor control. I know that sounds complicated, so I’ll do my best to simplify. Mechanical capacity refers to the mobility of joints and muscles and fascia. Neuromuscular function refers to the ability of muscle groups to fire with appropriate initiation, strength, and endurance. Motor control is the coordinated use of mechanical capacity and neuromuscular function to create healthy posture and smooth and coordinated movements. All clients present with limitations in these three realms and our job as the physio is to identify and enhance the efficiency of these limitation.

A few things set us apart. As I said, we are generalists in that we treat the entire body as an interconnected system. We are highly trained and place an emphasis on continued training of all therapists. Many of our therapists are also teachers for other physical therapists. Each appointment is one hour of one-on-one care. Because of our training, and the time that we can spend with each patient, we are often able to get results where other therapists can not.

Any shoutouts? Who else deserves credit in this story – who has played a meaningful role?
Personally, my wife Katie is my rock and the glue that holds everything together. Our families have supported us in every decision we’ve made and place we’ve moved. Professionally, my business partner Ryan Johnson has been pivotal both in directing my career path as well as opening IPA Physio OC. Ryan’s parents, Gregg and Vicky Johnson (founders of IPA) have been and continue to be amazing mentors. My residency mentor Lang Ngov, and my other fellowship mentors in NYC Dean Hazama and Brad Gilden taught me so much. I am surrounded by an amazing group of inter-disciplinary collaborators here in Orange County (Medical Doctors, Pilates Teachers, Yogis, Trainers, Dentists, Speech and Language Pathologists, Coaches, Nutritionists, Psychologists, Acupuncturists, Chiropractors, other Physios, etc…) Together, we are helping so many people. And, together are pushing each other to be better practitioners in our respective fields.

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