LIFTOFF graduate starts Parkinson’s physical therapy business

Published 5:14 pm Thursday, April 7, 2022

A graduate of CentreWorks’ entrepreneurship class LIFTOFF, Amanda Pruitt, has launched a physical therapy business that will help people with Parkinson’s disease and other movement disorders.

Pruitt works full time as a physical therapist for Select Specialty Hospital, which helps critical illness recovery, usually for people who have been in the ICU. Pruitt has worked in skilled nursing facilities and in geriatrics rehab.

“I’ve always known I wanted to work with that population, and I really love to treat people with Parkinson’s and other movement disorders and balance deficits; it’s just something I’m really passionate about,” Pruitt said.

Called GeriActive, Pruitt’s business will go to homes of people with disorders like Parkinson’s to provide physical therapy. She will also have support groups for families of people with Parkinson’s, and education events.

Pruitt

Before starting her business, Pruitt knew she wanted to work with people with Parkinson’s disease, but had no idea how to run a business. She heard about CentreWork’s LIFTOFF class through someone in the community.

LIFTOFF is an entrepreneur training class led by CentreWorks Directors Anthony and Andrea Margida. The class connects Centre College students with community members wanting to start businesses. Students help the entrepreneurs flesh out their ideas by gathering community feedback.

Groups conduct “empathy interviews” with people they are looking to serve, to figure out what they want in a business and what their needs actually are. Pruitt met with patients, families, other therapists in town, and people in the healthcare system.

“I didn’t know how to [serve people] in the best way; the empathy interviews were really eye-opening,” Pruitt said.

She found that many people with Parkinson’s have to drive an hour or more to get quality treatment. She said this area doesn’t have many physical therapists who specialize in Parkinson’s.

“I knew that [patients] needed more than what they could get in home health, but there was nowhere to send them, there was no other therapist who really knew how to treat those people well,” she said.

After empathy interviews help entrepreneurs define a specific problem, the Margidas explained that is when people can develop business ideas to solve that problem.

“[Pruitt] listened, she defined the problem based on what she heard from these individuals and their families, came up with ideas, tested her prototype, and actually launched her business,” Andrea said. “She will be successful, no ifs, ands or buts about it.”

Pruitt finished the class in November 2021, spent the first few months of 2022 getting licenses and certifications, and she will start accepting patients next week. She said the class helped connect her with the right people, and made her more confident in her ability to start a business.

“LIFTOFF has been a huge part in me having the courage to do this, because I work full time, I have two young kids, it’s important that I have time to do those other things too, so having that support system really helped me be able to be efficient with it,” Pruitt said.

While she may not have a physical building for the time being, part of what sets GeriActive apart is that Pruitt will travel to patients. She said many patients are not able to travel by themselves to clinics.

Pruitt would eventually like to have a space with support groups for people with Parkinson’s, and have a group wellness class for the older population. She also hopes to eventually offer speech therapy with a certified speech therapist.

Pruitt is hosting a Parkinson’s Disease Awareness Month Education Event tomorrow from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. at the Boyle County Public Library. She will also be hosting monthly Parkinson’s support group meetings, the first one on April 28. People can email her at amanda@geriactive.org for information.