When Brewer native Brad Libby was a senior in high school, he knew he wanted to be a physical therapist. What he didn’t know then is that just 10 years later, he would own his own physical therapy business with two clinics.
“Ever since I was little, I’ve always played sports. I’m competitive by nature, and this comes out in my work every day,” said Libby, founder of Performance Physical Therapy and Sports Rehab, Inc., which opened in 2015 in Bangor and, more recently, in Brewer.
The 2007 Brewer High School graduate had a guiding light, so to speak: “My brother is a pretty big role model in my life. Brandon was in med school when he was just 20. He’s been on fire ever since,” he said. “I just watched him succeed and knew I could do the same.”
Libby’s always had a passion for basketball and played it throughout his childhood, he said. In high school, he added soccer and tennis to the list of sports he played. Seeing his brother progress on his own career path during that period, he said, provided a new inspiration. He began considering careers in fields like physical education, athletic training and physical therapy. A subsequent sports injury and the rehab that followed narrowed his list. So began his mission.
He was drawn to Husson University in part because of the three-plus-three program—three years of undergraduate work, plus three years of doctoral studies—which placed him in clinics in Cape Cod and Boston. By 2011, he had earned his bachelor’s degree in kinesiology and a minor in psychology. In 2013, he began his career as a doctor.
He played basketball as a student at Husson. Today, he’s the assistant men’s basketball coach. He admits that playing basketball for Husson, and their head coach Warren Caruso in particular, were big draws in his decision to matriculate there.
“I can’t say enough about Husson’s program,” said Libby. “I’ve been around Coach Caruso for nine years now, learning from his discipline and leadership. He puts 110 percent into his work, and I translate that into my [medical] practice.”
Even though Libby is assisting with coaching the team, he considers himself a lifelong student of Caruso’s. “He talks to me about life balance and gives me tips all the time. He’s had a big impact on me and how I run my clinics,” said Libby.
He admits he brings his athletic competitive mindset to work every day. “I want to get that patient better as fast as I can. It’s almost a competition against science and myself to see what new techniques I can come up with.”
He credits his business success with a well-balanced lifestyle, along with the fact that he enjoys talking with people and getting to know them. “The biggest thing in my job is getting the patient’s trust,” he said, “and once they trust you, we will have success.”
Success for some patients means increased mobility, and for a majority it’s being pain free. Libby speaks of one patient in particular who suffered with pain for a year. “She told me, ‘I came in and saw how young you were and almost walked out,’” he said. “‘But then you started talking, and I heard the confidence and knowledge, so I stayed.’ It did not take us long to get her on track to feeling pain free.”
Libby admits his approach can be a little more aggressive, because he wants to bring patients to a healthier level than they think is possible. “We do gauge what the patient can handle,” he said. “Some patients have that psychological block because they have so much pain. That whole thing back in the day of ‘no pain, no gain’ does not apply. We don’t want to increase the pain so the patients can’t function for three days.”
“I want to be able to help as many people in the community as I possibly can,” he said. “I just introduce myself as ‘Brad,’ and honestly love what I do when I come to work every day.”