Whether it’s a speech delay or a physical disability, Dynamic Strides Therapy Inc. is working with one client at a time to help meet a need.
“At one point, when we opened, we had 300 kids on our wait list,” says Brandi O’Reilly, CEO of Dynamic Strides Therapy. “The need is huge. Parents don’t always know about child development. They may not know to ask their pediatrician when they see them, once a year. That stuff gets missed.”
O’Reilly’s summation of the demand is not unique to the Ozarks. During 2019-2021, the prevenlance of any diagnosed developmental disability in children ages 3-17 increased from 7.4% to 8.56%, according to a National Health Interview Survey by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The name Dynamic Strides Therapy, was inspired by another nonprofit called Dynamic Strides, which closed, and which O’Reilly had volunteered for. O’Reilly and her husband, Ryan O’Reilly, purchased the barn, the assets and the property from Dynamic Strides. In 2016, the new nonproft, Dynamic Strides Therapy, opened, leasing the property the O’Reillys’ own and offering physical, speech and occupational services.
Besides serving as CEO of the nonprofit, O’Reilly earned her doctorate of physical therapy at Missouri State University. She and her husband, and some of the rest of the O’Reilly family, helped to get the project started, she says, but the community is what keeps the now-charitable organization going.
The facility’s clients also participate in hippotherapy – therapy on horseback – or aquatic therapy in water. The hippotherapy and aquatics are used as tools for clients with sensory physical or speech-related needs, O’Reilly says.
O’Reilly declines to disclose annual operating budget or revenue, but she says there are over 300 hours of therapy scheduled every week for roughly 270 patients. She says the therapy is spread out as 42% occupational therapy, 31% physical therapy and 27% speech therapy. O’Reilly says the goal is to continue to help clients while educating the community of the milestones of child development and when extra help might be necessary. Dynamic Strides Therapy offered free screenings in February for kids 6 years of age and younger.
Therapy services are fee based, but as a nonprofit, Dynamic Strides Therapy is able to offer sliding-scale payments and other options to patients who need financial help to access services. She says about 80% of her insurance patients are on Medicaid, and the nonprofit serves clients up to the age of 21.
At the 25,000-square-foot facility, which has a horse arena and individual therapy rooms, O’Reilly says there’s a need for expansion as clientele has grown. The horses are located on-site; some were donated and others purchased.
Dynamic Strides Therapy started a capital campaign, pre-COVID-19, to raise funds for an indoor pool, seven additional treatment rooms and a larger classroom. The project was originally estimated at $2.5 million, O’Reilly says, but with rising costs, it’s gone up to about $3 million. It’ll add another 7,580 square feet. The students working in a pool now do therapy at a nearby hotel.
O’Reilly says she’s uncertain when the campaign for the expansion will restart, but the plan is in the near future. Before COVID, she says the campaign raised enough to hire an architect for the project at $150,000.
O’Reilly said she has a staff of about 25, but they are always looking for opportunities to hire more therapists.
“There’s a lot of people leaving the medical industry, so we’ve had trouble hiring enough therapists, and we’ve had difficulties with growing at a pace that kept us in a stable situation, but also providing the community what it needs,” she said. “That balance was really shifted for a long time because 300 kids on your wait list and everyone’s like, ‘Why aren’t you hiring 20 therapists?’”
The nonprofit also relies on its 150 volunteers, who last year logged 13,500 hours.
Lindsay Ritter, a volunteer at Dynamic Strides Therapy, says the kids love the facility. She is a side walker. She helps walk the horses with the students on them during therapy, but has also served as the chair of the Harvest Moon fundraising event and has volunteered with the Pizza and Pints fundraising event.
“I love helping them with different events, but it’s really neat being able to see the kids improve,” says Ritter. “I think a lot of them don’t realize they are having fun therapy.”
Dynamic Strides Therapy provides the services, but serving students with specific needs, such as orthotics, has opened the door to a collaboration between the therapy facility and other related businesses.
O’Reilly says her facility uses Hanger Clinic in Springfield to help clients who are in physical therapy have access to items like braces.
Mellissa Frietchen, practice manager and clinician at the Hanger Clinic, said she goes to see patients and evaluate for orthotic needs once a month currently.
“Dynamic Strides is fantastic with just knowing what the kids need,” she says. “We work well together, and then not only do we get the devices to them, but Dynamic Strides does a great job of following up with us and saying, ‘Hey, this part’s working, this part isn’t,’ and then we just keep improving it for the kiddo.”
O’Reilly says students come from a three-hour range of Springfield.
“We’re just booming,” she says. “We’re adding a lot of staff because we’re finally in that place where everything flows well and our structure’s in place and we’re ready to expand. That’s been a big win. It just took a while to get there.”
Adrianna Norris became a first-time business owner with the opening of Finley River Chiropractic; PaPPo’s Pizzeria & Pub launched its newest location; and Huey Magoo’s opened its second store in the Ozarks.