Buffalo Next: How a ‘random email’ turned into a unique physical therapy clinic in East Aurora

Buffalo Next

Oct. 11, 2023


Sana offers orthopedic, pelvic health physical therapy

The story behind one of Western New York’s newest physical therapy clinics began a couple of years ago when Brynn Patterson heard from a like-minded person she had never met.

“I received a random email from this woman named Rachel, who was another physical therapist who did Pilates-based rehab, and she had somehow found me online,” said Patterson, who at the time was running Southtowns Pilates.

Brynn Patterson and Rachel Clark, founders of Sana Physical Therapy

Brynn Patterson, left, and Rachel Clark, founders of Sana Physical Therapy in East Aurora, Oct. 3, 2023.

“As soon as I got that email, I just picked up the phone, and I gave her a call,” Patterson said.

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Those conversations, and the friendship that followed, led Patterson and Rachel Clark to start Sana Physical Therapy, Pilates & Wellness, which opened in May in a suite within a shopping plaza at 123 Grey St. in East Aurora.

As Patterson and Clark describe, Sana is not a “run-of-the-mill” physical therapy clinic. In addition to individualized orthopedic physical therapy, Sana also offers pelvic floor physical therapy, which they say is a much-needed service across Western New York, as well as Pilates-based rehabilitation, therapeutic Pilates and massage and group classes.

For Patterson and Clark, Sana is a reflection of what they have both learned during their roughly 20-year careers and a shared desire to bring that care to Western New York.

The back story

Patterson grew up in Albany and then attended the University at Buffalo, graduating with her doctor of physical therapy degree in 2004.

Clark, meanwhile, grew up in Chautauqua County and received her doctor of physical therapy degree from Daemen University.

But both moved away not long after college.

Sana Physical Therapy

Brynn Patterson, co-founder of Sana Physical Therapy, works with Stephen Smith on his balance, core strength and posture awareness at Sana Physical Therapy in East Aurora.

Patterson moved with her family in 2008 to Minneapolis for her husband’s job. There, Patterson got involved in Pilates-based rehabilitation and worked as a physical therapist at a clinic similar to Sana.

Clark, meanwhile, moved to California, where she co-owned a physical therapy and wellness business, The Cypress Center, in Pacific Palisades.

Eventually, both decided it was time for a reset, drawn back to the quality of life in Western New York, where they wanted their kids to grow up.

Returning in 2019, Patterson soon started Southtowns Pilates on March 1, 2020, just as the world was about to change with the Covid-19 pandemic.

Clark also returned to the area in the pandemic’s early days and, as she looked to bring the same style care to Western New York that she had practiced in California, decided to search online one day for local physical therapists who did Pilates.

Patterson’s name popped up, which led to that first email and a friendship in the months ahead.

Eventually, as they talked more and thought about it, the duo decided to get into business together. As it was, Patterson’s business, Southtowns Pilates, needed more space, and Patterson and Clark saw a need in Western New York for the type of one-on-one physical therapy they practiced.

“It’s a little rare here to do the model of care that we were doing in California and Minneapolis,” Clark said. “So when we came back, we realized that we both do very similar things, we treat the same, we’re both also Pilates certified as well as pelvic health and orthopedic therapists. So we thought, ‘Let’s meet. Let’s talk,’ and then this evolved.”

Meeting the need

Among the more unique, and needed, offerings at Sana is pelvic floor physical therapy, which focuses on the basket of muscles at the base of the pelvis that affects bladder and bowel function, sexual health and support of internal organs.

And in Western New York in particular, Patterson and Clark said, there is a lack of pelvic health therapists, something they both noticed very quickly upon moving back to the area.

They said, right now, it’s common for patients to wait three to six months to get in to see a pelvic health physical therapist.

“Our goal is to change that, and we want to let the public know that we have multiple pelvic health physical therapists who are accepting new patients today,” Clark said. “And we want to keep those wait times short.”

Patterson and Clark believe the Sana model will work well in Western New York because patients want “quality-driven care” and one-on-one time with their physical therapists.

It is early now but, if things go well, the partners may eventually look to add another location in Western New York.

“We have a good feeling that this model will do well, because so many of these models are doing very well across the country,” Clark said.

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