For more than five years, Karen Bustillo, 48, treated pilots, flight attendants and other employees at the physical therapy room at the former America West Airlines in Tempe.
However, as the Arizona airline began merger procedures with US Airways, Bustillo decided it was finally time to open her own clinic.
That was one year ago.
Today, Bustillo, a therapist with 25 years of experience, treats an average of 50 patients each week at Bustillo Physical Therapy, 201 W. Guadalupe Road, Gilbert.
Her company, located in an 1,100-square foot center near Gilbert Road, is already too small for her growing business.
"I’m about ready to move into larger quarters soon," said Bustillo, a native of Rochester, N.Y., who learned her skills at the University of Buffalo and received her Arizona certification after attending the A.T. Still University, Arizona School of Health Sciences in Mesa.
She teaches two classes at the Mesa university and is working toward a doctorate degree in physical therapy.
Bustillo’s clientele is about 20 percent elderly patients and the remainder young and middle aged.
"More and more patients are being referred to physical therapists by insurance companies than ever before," Bustillo said. "One reason is that the public is demanding better and more extensive treatment."
Physical therapy is basically used to treat patients with muscle and joint problems caused by aging, accident victims and, in recent years, a growing number of younger people afflicted with carpal tunnel caused largely by excessive and improperly sitting at computers.
Bustillo decided to become a physical therapist for two basic reasons, she said: She enjoys working with people, and she’s fascinated with the medical aspects of physical therapy and body structure.
"Starting my own physical therapy service was a long time coming, but I’m thrilled to have my own business," she said. "Its scary and its a big leap for me, but I get great satisfaction from it."
She is a certified Orthopedic Specialists by the American Board of Physical Therapy Specialties and was named Arizona Physical Therapist of the Year by the Arizona Physical Therapy Association.
Bustillo also is a member of the Gilbert Chamber of Commerce.
Her husband, Vincent, is a certified public accountant. They have three children, Becky, 19, Vince, II, 19 and Tony, 10, a Pop Warner football player.
"I get my physical exercise coaching Pop Warner cheerleading," said Bustillo, who also enjoys golf, regular walks and weight lifting.
One of her regular patients, Arlene Rushefsky, 67, of Chandler, receives daily treatment for her ailing shoulder from Bustillo.
"She’s wonderful," said Rushefsky.
FAST FACT: The lower back, shoulders, knees are the body parts that most often require therapy
Karen Bustillo Age: 48
Family: Husband, Vincent; three children, Becky, 19, Vince, II, 19 and Tony, 10
Resides in: Gilbert
Business: Bustillo Physical Therapy, 201 W. Guadalupe Road, Suite 314, Gilbert
Key achievement: Started a physical therapy business a year ago with only a few patients and today treats an average of 50 each week
Company goal: Return those we serve to the highest level of function possible following injury, illness or surgery
Information: (480) 892-0808