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Physical therapist Mike Mangini opened his new private practice in North Canaan on Feb. 13. Photo by Cynthia Hochswender

Physical therapist finds new space

NORTH CANAAN — Devoted clients of physical therapist Mike Mangini will be relieved to know he has opened his new private practice, in North Canaan, as of Monday, Feb. 13.

Mangini, 55, was the founding director of outpatient therapy at Geer in North Canaan, where he saw patients for 25 years, building up a devoted clientele over the decades. The waiting list to see him or one of the two other therapists in the department was often five weeks.

Despite the need for the program, and its popularity, COVID and other challenges forced Geer to close the outpatient therapy department last September. Mangini spent a few months searching for just the right commercial space, one that was clean and spacious and which offered easy wheelchair access.

He found it at last at 10 Railroad St. in the center of town. Mangini said he is grateful to building owner John Considine for “being very accommodating and doing such a nice job creating this space.”

Considine owns several commercial properties in the North Canaan business district; Mangini said his landlord’s mission is to bring to town “more nice things to do; and I hope to add to what he’s started here in the center of town.”

The storefront space that Mangini now occupies is unexpectedly cheerful for a medical space, with two friendly signs announcing “physical therapy,” an inviting message that is enhanced by two giant brightly colored therapy balls next to the front door (the wheelchair access is through a side entry).

Generally, physical therapy is not a joyful activity, but somehow the upbeat and humorous Mangini manages to make appointments with him something to look forward to. He is an experienced and  highly competent therapist with an advanced degree in orthopedic PT, thousands of hours of continuing education in (and experience in) manual therapy, including in the Mulligan manual therapy technique.

He does work that can be compared to chiropractic; he is expert in the technique of dry-needling, which is similar to acupuncture but which, he explained, “is based on anatomy and Western medicine, unlike acupuncture, which is based on the meridiens and on Chinese medicine.” Another difference: Dry needling is done in combination with a light electrical stimulation, “which has a way of changing how the brain internalizes pain information. The goal is to change the body tissue, but also to create systemic change in the brain and spinal cord.”

Mangini estimates that 75% of his patients are helped by dry needling, in combination with manual therapy and PT exercises.

“It’s fun and it doesn’t hurt,” he promised.

One of the main challenges of being a successful PT, of course, is not just the techniques you use but also the way in which you diagnose a problem and then choose the appropriate treatments.

“I try to be empathetic and a good listener. I try to remember that people have psycho-social needs and that sometimes I need to really hear what someone is saying to me. I try to look at what motivates people, and to understand that not everyone is going to go home and do all the exercises I recommend to them.

“I feel like if I can understand what motivates someone, I can more easily contribute to their recovery process. People want to move better and live better. I want to give them strategies and management tools so they can make good decisions about their health.”

While that all might sound a little earnest, Mangini presents those life lessons wrapped in a healthy dose of humor and good cheer. Unusually, there is nearly always laughter involved in a session with him, even when the road to mobility and relief is painful. So when Mangini promises that, for example, dry needling is fun, he means it, and he isn’t kidding (about that). Also fun: Pool therapy at the YMCA at Geer Village in North Canaan.

“It’s fun!” he promises. “And it’s effective for people with balance issues, spinal pain, arthritis.”

For patients who haven’t already worked with him at Geer, Mangini suggests a phone call or a text with questions of the “Hey, I’ve got something going on” variety.

“Then I can either say, ‘I think you should come in,’ or I might say, ‘That sounds complex, you should probably talk to a doctor.’”

Appointments are now booked directly through Mangini; although there is not yet a five-week waiting list, his calendar is beginning to fill up.

In addition to pool therapy at the Y, he is also doing some home visits, to reduce stress for patients who can’t always get a ride to his office, or for those who can’t easily be moved.

The office is now open Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

“I’m an out-of-network provider for all major medical plans,” he said. “Or patients can do fee-for-service.”

Costs vary depending on how long the session lasts, with most costing between $60 and $120.

Contact Mike Mangini by text or phone at 860-309-4449; email him at mikemanginipt@gmail.com; or go to his website at www.manginiphysicaltherapy.com.

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