About a month ago, we sat down with Chris Reynolds in the Phoenix location of Desert Hand Therapy. An incredibly friendly person and capable hand therapist, we also discovered that he was more than just the easy-going founder and leader of Desert Hand Therapy and DHT Physical Therapy. His passion for therapy, his life, his family, and fitness shone through the entire conversation. We’re sharing this interview because we know that in meeting Chris, the man who started it all here at Desert Hand Therapy, you’ll have an even greater appreciation for the solid foundation he built and their amazing growth to 10 clinics valley-wide.
Get to Know Chris Reynolds, Owner and Resident Hand Therapist of Desert Hand Therapy and DHT Physical Therapy
Why did you start Desert Hand Therapy?
“I had previously worked for a group of doctors for about 17 years. Over time, I saw some changes in the company that I didn’t fully agree with, some things that I felt made it very generic, and so I decided that I was going to start my own company.
My assistant at the time was Jeanette Amado (the current Practice Manager at the Biltmore location). I asked if she wanted to come with me and help me get a new practice off the ground. She said yes, so with the help of Jeanette, my wife, and my business partner at the time we managed to start our own practice. It was immediately successful – our client list just exploded. I definitely didn’t expect that: I didn’t know how it was going to go and I was so nervous about keeping it afloat that I was being extra careful not to waste anything. I was taking paper towels and splitting them in half so I wouldn’t run out. However, the first week, I had 12 patients. By the end of the first month, I had 512 patients.
By the end of the first year, we moved out of that little office and after about four years we were opening a new clinic annually. I had good relationships with doctors who referred a lot of patients to me and we really worked hard, putting ourselves out there as much as we could.
Eventually, we grew to 10 clinics. I wanted to make absolutely sure that these clinics were managed well and compliant, so I created a portfolio of Desert Hand Therapy and submitted it to a few companies. USPH was a great fit for us and so we’ve been partners with USPH since 2007. The partnership has been instrumental in helping to keep all of our Desert Hand Therapy practices uniform and compliant.”
What was the light bulb moment for you where you knew you were supposed to be a physical therapist?
“My lifelong goal was to become either a professional baseball player or a doctor. I got injured a lot playing baseball and my heart was more into academics, so eventually I put my focus on school. However, even with shifting my focus, I saw first hand how difficult it was for my brother to get into medical school, and he had better grades than I did.
Finally, my mom said to me, ‘you like sports and you like medicine, why don’t you become a physical therapist?’ I didn’t even know what that was at the time. At her suggestion I applied to PT school, even though I had since switched all my classes to history and had decided to pursue becoming a lawyer. But, I got into PT school instead. I guess it was meant to be.
I did an internship with athletics at the University of Michigan, but decided I didn’t want to be a sports trainer after all. So, I moved from Michigan to Arizona in 1980 and started as a PT with a group of hand surgeons. It was really still a new field at the time – most physical therapists worked in hospitals, there were very few private practices. I was still considering medical school but then I met my wife, fell in love, and decided my life was pretty great as it was.”
What’s the best part of your job?
“Seeing people get well.”
What do you think the biggest misconception about physical therapy is?
“A lot of people, especially back in the day, seemed to think that physical therapists were the same thing as massage therapists.”
What are you passionate about other than physical therapy?
“I’m passionate about my family, my church, and staying active. I play basketball a couple nights a week, if my schedule allows it. I like to run and play golf and go to the gym. I also go hiking with my family, as well as skiing. We also recently took up scuba diving as a family.”
What’s the most important advice you give your patients?
“Do your homework – keep up with your at-home exercises.”
What’s your top tip for living a healthy lifestyle?
“Keep moving and eat right.”
What are you currently listening to/reading/watching?
“I am currently revisiting a book called ‘A Purpose Driven Life’ and I’m currently watching the T.V. show ‘Homeland’. I also watch ‘This Is Us’.”
What is your favorite song?/If you could pick one song to be the theme song to your life, what would it be?
“It’s always changing, but one of my go-to songs would probably be ‘Disagree’ by Dave Mason. It’s an oldie oldie. I’m not really into lyrics, but if I like the beat, then I like the song.”
If you could visit anywhere in the world, where would you go?
“I’m a beach person so I would probably go to Bali or Tahiti.”
What is your special talent?
“I can juggle, though I haven’t done it in a long time.”
If you could play any sport professionally, which one would you play and why?
“Basketball – my favorite team is the Phoenix Suns of course! I’m also a big college basketball fan.”