A love of physical therapy and a lack of therapy services for children led a Vermont transplant to build a Northern Kentucky pediatric therapy office from the ground up.
Daniel Cross started A Step Ahead Physical Therapy in 2006 to fill a need in the community. The company started with four therapists and only a couple of clients, but now 13 therapists serve more than 300 children a year.
Much of the growth has come from a more awareness in schools and more attention from parents who are more involved in their children’s treatment. “The education system has become much more inclusive for children with special needs,” Cross says. “Children that would have been pushed aside are now being included in activities they never would have 20 years ago.”
Cross knew he wanted pursue a career in physical therapy after his own rehab from a wrestling injury during his senior year in high school. After moving to Cincinnati in 1995 and gaining 10 years of professional experience, he opened A Step Ahead in Crestview Hills, Kentucky.
From the beginning, Cross wanted to provide a full breadth of therapy service for families, including physical, occupational and speech therapy for children who aren’t reaching their developmental milestones on time. Many of Cross’s clients have medical or chromosomal disorders, such as cerebral palsy or Downs syndrome, but some also come to rehabilitate from sports injuries or to develop lagging speech habits.
“I wanted to serve all of a child’s therapy needs,” Cross says. “I want a family to be able to come into my office for an hour and a half and receive every kind of treatment they need. People shouldn’t have to drive all around shopping for different kinds of therapy.”
Cross is sympathetic to many needs of parents because his oldest son suffers from Asperger’s Syndrome. He has dealt with many of the same problems as the families that come to him for help and understands the importance of trust in the treatment process. “Trust is vital,” Cross says. “You have to establish it because these families are giving me their most prized possession. If I don’t communicate well and develop that trust, it can be difficult.”
His personal familiarity of therapy needs for children with special needs has led Cross to be more proactive and aggressive in his treatment. At the same time, it allows him to keep loving his work. “People wonder how I work with kids all day long,” Cross says. “I love it. I get to paid to play.”
By Evan Wallis