KING CITY — It took his own horrific knee injury to introduce Robert Limone to his future profession. The sports injury required two years of extensive physical therapy, but it turned out to be such a positive experience he decided to investigate further studies as a profession.
Today, Limone is the manager of Mee Memorial Healthcare System’s Rehabilitation Services Department, which encompasses physical, occupational and speech therapy. Affectionately called Dr. Bob by patients and staff, the outgoing and personable leader views his profession as a “healing ministry.”
“It’s a field where you can go wide and go broad,” he said. “I am blessed to have a part in my patients’ healing, and am very passionate about this practice.”
Calling Rehabilitation Services the youngest medical profession in the country, Limone and his team provide state-of-the-art services at Mee Memorial Hospital, the Skilled Nursing Facility and at the outpatient clinic on Broadway Street in King City.
Before coming to MMHS, Limone had an extensive career as a traveling therapist, contracting his services out to various locations — including Mee Memorial. He fell in love with the place.
“I loved the positivity, the culture, the supportive people in the department, the patients — I couldn’t have been happier,” he said. So, he came on board full-time and never looked back.
While he has been with MMHS for 10 years, he has actually been practicing rehabilitation therapy for 40.
“God blessed me with this profession,” he said. “He chose the perfect patients and the ability for me to be part of this great community.”
When he first applied to college, there were only 60 schools in the country offering coursework in rehabilitation therapy.
“Getting in — you really had to prove yourself in those days,” he said. “The field has grown tremendously, especially with sports medicine taking off in the late ’70s and ’80s.”
Early in his career, patients would ask if he was a helper or volunteer, because they didn’t really take it seriously as a practice. Now, it’s a highly competitive, global and diverse track of study, and physical therapists are required to have a doctorate degree.
Undergraduate course work typically starts with a path in biology or kinesiology, then proceeds to obtaining a master’s degree and on to doctorate level studies.
Limone was born and raised in New Jersey and studied at Quinnipiac University, where the curriculum required students to also take coursework through Yale University Medical Center in New Haven, Conn.
“I was determined to do anything I could to get accepted,” he said. “I also played ice hockey and football, which helped, and so I felt I was at the right place at the right time to launch this career.”
Currently, Dr. Bob’s patients represent a diverse crowd — as young as 8 weeks to 108 years. He sees developmentally delayed children, those with multiple sclerosis, athletes, fieldworkers, people with hurt backs, neck, shoulders, ankles; and everything in between.
Today, physical therapists are a primary care provider, referring out to radiology, pain management, orthopedists, and other specialists. Limone hopes third-party insurance payers may come to recognize the real cost savings when a patient sees a physical therapist first, instead of starting with a specialist or surgeon.
“It’s actually a military model,” he said. “The military has been doing it this way for years.”
There is a team of 10 professionals in Mee Memorial’s Rehabilitation Services, including physical therapists, occupational therapists, a speech and language pathologist, and PT techs and assistants who set up and schedule. All are certified by the State of California.
“Our goal is to be a patient advocate — we try all we can to provide the best possible treatment available,” Limone said.