Columbia Falls native gets folks on their feet again

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Tyler Ladenburg was born and raised in Columbia Falls. The 2000 graduate played football and basketball for the Wildcats, went on to study exercise science at Montana State University on Bozeman and then received his master’s degree in physical therapy from the University of Montana. His parents, Tom and Carol, grew up here as well.

Once out of college, he had his first job interview with Keith Ori, the co-owner of Orthopedic Rehab.

When Ladenburg was in high school he got a technical foul or two playing basketball. Ori was the referee who gave them to him.

“I had 10 technical fouls in my life,” Ladenburg said with a smile last week. “Nine were from him.”

Ori remembered Ladenburg and didn’t hold the fouls against him — as he got the job and has been a physical therapist for the clinic for the past eight years now and manages the Columbia Falls clinic.

Many Columbia Falls graduates leave town never to return. But Ladenburg said his wife, Cassie, got a job teaching at Ruder Elementary at the same time he was looking for work and things fell into place.

Today the Orthopedic Rehab’s offices on U.S. Highway 2 are busy — Ladenburg sees all sorts of patients, from athletes with recovering from injuries to millworkers with sore backs. On this day, he’s helping Tricia Pajak of Coram recover from ACL surgery after she blew her knee out getting onto her horse.

“You can’t specialize,” Ladenburg said. “We’re like general practitioners.”

The valley also benefits from having good doctors and surgeons available, he said.

With a background in high school sports, Ladenburg said he really likes working with local athletes. He often knows the families and the coaches — he’s on the sidelines ready to help every home football game he can get to.

They also offer dry needle therapy, which releases trigger points in muscles — much like acupuncture.

“It’s a way to get rid of muscular knots,” he said.

Ladenburg and his wife have an 8-year-old daughter, Kamryn and a 6-year-old son, Eli. The kids love to hit the trails in Glacier National Park. Last year they went on a number of excursions, including a trip into the Belly River.

Ladenburg didn’t hike much growing up, but he does now.

“I’ve spent more time in Glacier Park in the past 14 months than I did growing up,” he said.

His advice to people who think they might need physical therapy?

“If you feel like you might need physical therapy, come in,” he said. “Even if we can’t help you right away, we can point you in the right direction.”

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