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Health // Doctor in the House
Rasa Fournier

Physically Empowering People

Jaco Van Delden
Founder of Jaco Rehab

Where did you receive your schooling and training?

I lived in Amsterdam, and I had a bicycle that I rode to school every day. The Academy of Physical Therapy was on one of Amsterdam’s beautiful canals. I did my training there for four years, and I did a couple of internships at inpatient/outpatient clinics and one in a hospital in Tanzania, so I had some broad experience. I did internships in neuro-training centers.

I liked outpatient ortho, so that’s where I wanted to serve my patients.

How long have you been in practice?

I graduated in Amsterdam from the Academy of Physical Therapy in ’94, and then I worked in Holland and in Britain. I came to Hawaii in ’96.

What made you choose to go into physical therapy?

I was a business major initially, and I went to a renowned business school in the middle of Holland. But I didn’t like it.

After about six months, I had the travel bug because business school, to me, was very stagnant. I started traveling again, and when I was on my travels I met a guy who was a physical therapist. He encouraged me to try it. He said it’s very interesting and that you get to work with people all the time.

I’m a people person, and I especially like helping people, so when I got back to Holland, I went to the Academy of Physical Therapy.

What makes Jaco Rehab different from other physical rehabilitation facilities?

We have a simple mission. It’s three words: We empower people.

People come to us with minor injuries or major life-changing conditions or injuries, and we empower them with all of the techniques and equipment we have to make them do what they want to be doing.

We take care of people who either want to be active again or who have never been active and want to try being more healthy. We deal with a niche population because we don’t treat chronic pain. We take care of people who want to be active.

What are the most common ailments that bring people to you?

There are either people who overuse their joints or muscles and we see them for sports injuries, and then we see a lot of people with spine problems. That’s either because they have very demanding jobs with lifting, carrying or construction, or they’re sedentary people. Sitting is one of the worst things you can do to your spine.

We also see a lot of patients with post-surgical conditions.Our physical therapy is usually short term. We take care of people for about two to three months, at the most, and we teach them how to manage their problems, and how to live a healthier and happier life.

That’s our mission. We don’t want to keep people here any longer than strictly necessary. Every day we have 10 or 11 new people coming in.

What are key ways to maintain a healthy lifestyle?

Sleep, nutrition and exercise are the most important. There are a lot of different philosophies about nutrition, so I won’t go into that, but I would say to keep a diverse diet and to cut down on some of the most abused substances, like sugar, grease and alcohol.

With exercise, most people are lacking the discipline to do something every day. You don’t have to do a lot, but do something, even 20 minutes, every day.

Sleep is a little bit different for everyone. I have a busy schedule, but I try to get eight hours of sleep every night.

How big is your staff?

We have a location in town, and then we just opened a location May 1 on the west side in Waikele Center. I found that the West is underserved for the one-on-one physical therapy that we provide. We have 16 physical therapists and about 10 support staff.

Do you have a specialized staff?

We are all trained in outpatient physical therapy. Our philosophy is that every patient sees a physical therapist, someone with a master’s or doctorate degree in physical therapy.

Myself, my wife, Jennifer Raams, and one of the other therapists graduated a long time ago, so we still have a bachelor’s, but now every therapist has a master’s or a doctorate. A lot of clinics have only one or two therapists, and then assistants or aides who have no degree, but with us, every patient sees a therapist one-onone every session.

How do you personally stay physically active?

I try to practice what I preach and bike to work three times a week. On the weekends, I ride my road bike over the Pali and around the east side. In 2003, I rode a bicycle from Seattle to Portland, Maine, to raise funds for leukemia. Once a year I like to get off the grid and backpack on the Big Island or another desolate location.

Can you say something about the select clientele Jaco Rehab attracts?

We work together with the athletic trainers at UH to get and keep their athletes healthy.

We also do work with the cast of Hawaii Five-0 when injuries occur. All in all, it’s a great profession, as we enjoy treating everyone who wants to get back in the game of life!

rfournier@midweek.com

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