Therapists, friends open their own practice in Natchez

Published 12:00 am Thursday, June 30, 2005

A while back, Kati Woodard decided she was tired of working for other people.

So, at age 29, she decided to start her own business. Along with friend Lori Taylor, she opened Natchez Rehab and Sports Specialists, a center dedicated to physical and occupational therapy and sports medicine.

Located in a spacious abode in Tracetown Shopping Center &045; convenient to both local hospitals &045; the center opened April 1 and has slowly but surely gained a growing clientele that spans a wide range of therapeutic needs.

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&uot;The first month was slow. We were afraid this might not work,&uot; Woodard said. &uot;But now we have 17 patients coming two or three times a week. We’re getting referrals from several doctors around town.&uot;

Woodard is a physical therapist and athletic trainer. Taylor, Woodard’s partner, is an occupational therapist. They provide therapy and treatment to patients with neurological and orthopedic injuries in order to strengthen and regain movement in the affected areas. Their patients span the gamut in age and other characteristics, Woodard said.

&uot;We have everything from a 5-week-old to a 94-year-old right now,&uot; Woodard said.

Woodard always knew she would come back to southwest Mississippi. She grew up in Liberty and still has family in the area.

&uot;I knew I was coming home for something,&uot; Woodard said. &uot;This was a way I could be close and accomplish what I wanted to accomplish.&uot;

She also knew from an early age that she wanted to be an athletic trainer. She was a student trainer at Mississippi State University for five years before going to physical therapy school and then moving to Natchez in 2001. She worked at Natchez Community Hospital before opening her business.

But more than just operating her business, Woodard’s passion is to helping her community. That’s the reason the center is offering a clinic Saturday for area coaches about sports injuries and other sports training topics and a day in July for local student-athletes to get pre-season physicals, both free of charge.

&uot;We want to reach out to the community,&uot; Woodard said. &uot;That was one of the reasons we decided to go into private practice, so we would have more freedom.&uot;

Woodard’s long-term goals include expanding the clinic to provide athletic training and therapy for some of the more rural counties in the area, she said.