NORTHFIELD - Spectrum Rehab helps people reclaim their daily lives, whether that means scaling mountains, scoring goals on the soccer field or simply climbing a flight of steps.

The rehabilitation company has offices in Cape May, Atlantic and Gloucester counties serving patients in most of South Jersey.

Spectrum was launched in 2002 by Pete Scordo and Joe Bonczek, both of Northfield, who became friends while working for the same sub-acute rehabilitation center. They decided to start their own rehabilitation business.

"Initially, we were moonlighting. We did housecalls at the time," Bonczek said. "A lot of people needed outpatient services, but they couldn't leave their home. We saw a need there."

Later, Spectrum added a third partner, John Bernal, of Egg Harbor Township.

Today, the business helps patients of all ages regain their ranges of motion and abilities. Patients turn to them after a minor sports injury, a major surgery or a life-altering and crippling injury or illness.

"We see people after strokes, joint replacements, Parkinson's disease, multiple sclerosis or sports injuries," Bonczek said. "We treat everything from pediatrics to geriatrics."

Every person who comes to Spectrum has a different malady and a unique goal for recovery, he said. The cases can be serious, including helping people re-learn to walk or dress themselves. Others can be as simple as strengthening an ankle after a foot sprain.

One patient who suffered a stroke wanted to play tennis again. This type of personal goal is helpful in motivating people to improve, Scordo said.

"The one thing about physical therapy is you can't always help someone get back to where they were before. But the goal is improving their quality of life," he said. "You work toward that goal and never say no."

The company provides treatment at its offices in Cape May, Atlantic and Gloucester counties and in some cases in the patient's home. Typically, it gets referrals from local doctors, hospitals or other patients.

"We have a hand specialist who is an occupational therapist. Occupational therapy is much more prevalent in a home setting," Bonczek said. "They learn to get into and out of bed, feed themselves, dress themselves. You can imagine trying to put your shoes on using just one arm."

Spectrum opened a fitness center, Miracles Fitness, at its Northfield office on New Road. Likewise, the other office locations have affiliations with adjacent gyms as well.

Often, patients whose insurance will not cover additional personal treatments continue their rehabilitation on their own at the gyms, which feature air-powered hydraulic machines that increase resistance with the simple push of a button.

This feature is especially useful for patients who have mobility issues and would not be able to change weights easily on a typical machine, Bonczek said.

The physical therapy sessions typically take about an hour.

"After a joint replacement, they might be stuck living on the first floor of their house. We work on helping them walk in and out of the house and eventually regain the entire use of their home," Bonczek said. "As baby boomers get older, we're seeing more and more of the joint replacements."

The number of specialty therapists of all kinds has increased dramatically in New Jersey the past decade, from 538 offices in 2002 to 1,048 offices in 2012, the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics says. Therapist employment has risen more rapidly, from 4,601 in the state in 2002 to 10,234 in 2012.

Bonczek and Scordo have master's degrees in physical therapy. They take 15 hours of continuing education each year to stay on top of latest techniques and trends in rehabilitation.

The family business also employs the men's wives, who work as physical or occupational therapists.

Typically, the owners are the ones to answer the phone. Rehabilitation is a personal service that requires a close relationship with patients.

"You have to find out what makes people tick," Bonczek said. "Find a way to spark them to reach that goal. Other times, you have to pull back on the reins because people want to rush their recovery."

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