CORRECTION: Charlie Williams was incorrectly identified in a previous online version of this story.


Although he took a long road there, Charlie Williams is making a go of a new physical therapy practice in Garden City.

Williams opened Synergy Physical Therapy and Wellness, 1501 Suite 1, East Fulton Terrace, on April 2. When he started college at Oklahoma State University, Walters' original plan was to be pre-med. But after a year, he moved back home to St. Louis and took a year of classes at University of Missouri-St. Louis.

He decided to take a break and ended up managing Domino's Pizza franchises, mostly in St. Louis, but also in Louisville, Ky. Someone suggested going into physical therapy. Toward that end, he earned a bachelor's degree in exercise science from the University of Kansas and a master's in physical therapy from Washington University in St. Louis, which is where he met his wife, Dawn, who finished high school in Garden City.

After graduate school, Williams worked in St. Louis for about six months. He and his wife then moved to Denver where they lived for about three and a half years. He and Dawn, an optometrist, were traveling about an hour each way to work each day and had recently had their first child, a daughter named Logann.

"We'd had our daughter and so we decided to move closer to Dawn's home so we wouldn't have the commute and our daughter would be able to spend more time with her grandparents," Williams said, adding they were both able to find jobs here.

Williams has been practicing a total of 10 1/2 years.

He worked at the Sandhill Orthopaedic and Sportsmedicine Clinic in Garden City for four years. One day he got a phone call asking if he'd be interested in working at Southwest Rehab and Fitness there. The three owners of the Liberal clinic are minor partners in Williams' practice here. He commuted to Liberal from Garden City for two and a half years before opening Synergy.

Dawn Williams has been an optometrist with Garden City Optometrists since January 2007.

At Synergy, Williams treats anything from ankle sprains to total joint replacements and rotator cuff injuries. "Ideally, we try to get them (patients) back to their previous level of function," he said.

The time it takes to achieve this goal depends on the injury. On average, it's four to six weeks. Total hip replacements take for to six weeks to rehab from and total knee replacements usually take eight to 12 weeks. But just because they're done with Williams doesn't mean patients are finished working to return to normal activity.

"They have to keep getting stronger and try to keep reinjury from occurring," Williams said.

Another thing Williams hopes will help him is the Legislature's passage of a direct access law, which basically means patients can come to him without the referral of a primary care physician or orthopedic surgeon. "Previously, for insurance purposes, you had to have a referral, but as long as we show proof through measurements, or as long as we show improvements within those measurements within 10 visits, insurance will cover it," he said.

Williams said he picked out the name Synergy Physical Therapy and Wellness when he was working through names that meant working with the patient to improve. "Sometimes it takes more than one person to get them back to where they want to be," he said.

What he enjoys most about physical therapy is when he starts to see their improvement and the patient starts to see it as well.

"The diagnoses are always different, so it's nice to have that variety throughout the day and just knowing you're helping people get back to their normal activities and pain-free lifestyle," he said.

The practice covers close to 3,500 square feet, and at the moment, it's only Williams and his receptionist. "Hopefully things will get busier and we'll need more (therapists). We definitely have the space to grow, patient-wise," he said. Ideally, he said, having two or three therapists would be good for a city of the size of Garden City.

"I think the drawing area would be Cimarron, Sublette and maybe a little of Scott (County)," he said.

In addition to Logann, Williams and his wife now have a son, Spencer, 4, and one on the way.

An open house is scheduled for 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Tuesday. The Garden City Area Chamber of Commerce will have a ribbon cutting at 12:30 p.m. and refreshments will be available.