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Kenny Wessel, doctor of physical therapy at Advance Rehabilitation on St. Simons Island, stands near treatment equipment. The South Carolina native enjoys getting to know his patients and their stories.

Kenny Wessel remembers all too well what it’s like to live in pain. In fact, it was an ice hockey injury that set him on his current course, offering relief to others through a career in physical therapy.

“I’m originally from Greenville, S.C., and I grew up playing sports. When I had my own first, big injury, I had to go to a physical therapist,” he recalled.

For some, that initial brush with the profession could serve as an inspiration to provide others with the same level of comfort and care. But, Wessel says, that was not the case.

“In school, a lot of people share their ‘PT love stories’ but that wasn’t my experience ... mine was more of a ‘hate story,’” he said with a laugh.

“As much as I loved physical therapy, I just felt that my physical therapist at the time treated me like just another patient. He didn’t know who I was or really anything about me.”

But that sparked a passion within Wessel. He vowed that he would enter the field and make each patient feel like someone special.

“I went to Winthrop University in South Carolina, where I got my bachelor of science degree. From there, I went to graduate school at Mercer in Atlanta where I got my doctorate in physical therapy,” he said.

As he delved deeper into the program, he began to find areas of interest and focus within the vast field of PT. Wessel gravitated toward the orthopedic programming, which eventually landed him on the Georgia coast at Advance Rehabilitation.

With locations on St. Simons Island and in Brunswick, the facility offers a variety of treatments designed to help patients live their best lives. From bouncing back from surgery to improving athletic performances, the therapists have the skills to fill every need.

For Wessel, the St. Simons Island location was an ideal place to get some real-world experience.

“In PT school, it’s a little different from a medical doctor’s residency,” he explained. “Everyone graduates as a generalist and then we can go into different areas. My wife focuses on pediatrics, for instance, and I wanted to do orthopedics. So I applied to their residency program, which placed me here.”

Since coming to the Golden Isles in the summer of 2019, Wessel has made a point to fulfill his mission of engaging patients and understanding their individual stories. He’s been able to expand his expertise as well, treating a variety of patients with many different types of ailments.

“I love treating orthopedic injuries. I see everyone from people experiencing low back to knee and hip pain. I see everyone from high school athletes and weekend warriors to seniors but what I treat is mostly joint-based,” he said.

Wessel also remains committed to patient-centric care.

“That is what I am most passionate about. I love to watch as an athlete gets back to his sport. I also love treating someone who is expecting their first grandchild and just wants to be able to lift them,” he said. “I love watching them get over the pain to find their identity and confidence again. We want to get them back to what they love doing.”

Creating that connection is key. And he’s grateful to have found a home where he’s able to share that passion. Wessel also appreciates making an impact beyond the walls of Advance Rehabilitation.

“My wife and I love getting involved. We are members of the Chapel so we’re out in the community,” he said. “We also love going to the beach and I especially love golfing.

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