A Westminster-based physical therapy business continues to expand throughout Maryland, and even outside the state, but the mission of helping those with physical disabilities — including neurological disorders — through therapeutic rehabilitation continues.
TheraFit Rehab co-owners Gina Della and Justin Gilligan, began expanding soon after opening their first Westminster location in 2012.
In 2014, they opened a Timonium location which moved to Towson in May 2019. In the summer of 2017, not only did they open a Woodlawn location but they also partnered with an occupational therapist named Sarah Miltner to open their only location outside of Maryland in New Jersey. In February, they opened another location in Baltimore on East Cold Spring Lane.
The mother and son duo hope that by expanding, they can make physical therapy services more accessible to everyone.
“From our Westminster location, we have people coming from Frederick, we have people coming from Hanover, [Pennsylvania], Mount Airy or they’re driving very far to see us. Some of them take county mobility, some of them have caregivers that are driving," said Gilligan. “Baltimore is really lucky because we have Sinai’s REACH program that’s like a world renowned brain injury program. We have Kennedy Krieger [Institute], we have Johns Hopkins, we have Kernan [University of Maryland Rehabilitation & Orthopaedic Institute] but a lot of areas don’t have these types of hospitals that are very prestigious and well known.”
Della said the business technically started back in 2002 following her brother’s car accident. After the accident, she said her brother was in a vegetative state and doctors said he would stay that way for the rest of his life.
Della felt as though doctors had completely given up on her brother but she refused to just let him stay that way.
“I started taking care of him in my basement, just looking out for him," said Della. “I just couldn’t stand him being there, just sitting there vegetating in front of the TV and stuff. I started looking for equipment that would move him. I looked on the internet, came upon this equipment called Quadriciser, it’s a full body motorized therapy system.”
Della said that she worked with her brother one-on-one and would get him in a standing position in a gait trainer and a supported walker and worked his legs three times a week for hours. And he started improving.
After seeing the need for facilities that could help those like her brother, Della decided to open one herself. In 2006, Della started TheraFit from her basement and her son, Gilligan, joined the business a few years years later. The mother-and-son duo were able to move into a brick-and-mortar building in 2012.
As the business expanded, so did their services. The business added occupational therapy and now they offer speech therapy.
“What makes us different from most physical therapy clinics is we see people, like my uncle, who’ve been affected by neurological disabilities, things like strokes, cerebral palsy, brain injuries, or like traumatic brain injuries, multiple sclerosis, muscular dystrophy," said Gilligan. "We’re very specialized in the neurological field.
"The other thing is that we treat people one on one, so a lot of physical therapists wouldn’t really be able to give a person with the neurological disability the kind of treatment that we give because they treat people like two on one or three on one.”
Sometime this year, they also plan on offering behavioral therapy services as well.
According to Gilligan, TheraFit Rehab has a decade-long plan for expansion.
“We have a 10-year mission that we call Project Everest and basically in 10 years, from 2019, with our hoping to expand to 20 locations," said Gilligan. “We have short-term goals in between there that we plan to continue to open up locations in the next couple years.”
The expansion will remain primarily on the East Coast but they do plan to go down into Virginia and farther South.
They hope to continue to grow as a business and make people aware of services for those with disabilities.
“I feel like that population as a whole has been very overlooked,” said Gilligan. “So, think that’s like one of our major goals. This year, our leadership team decided that we were going to try to do a bunch of events to try to raise awareness. So, we’re partnering with the MS walk and we’re partnering with the MS Foundation to do community events."
After seeing what services like the ones that TheraFit offers did for her brother, Della wants to continue to provide that kind of safe space for others.
“There’s been many miracles,” said Della. “My brother took his first steps — he was in a vegetative state, took his first steps after 10 years.
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"We never ever give up on people. We never give up.”