News and Opinion from Sisters, Oregon

Physical therapist helps people get back to active life

Joe Uhan's physical therapy practice is about much more than alleviating pain and discomfort. It's about restoring people to the active life they love.

"People come to me not just because they have pain, but because they want to do stuff," he told The Nugget. "And that stuff can be running a marathon, or it can be playing with your grandkids."

Chronic pain and debility due to injury or wear and tear can be discouraging, and Uhan thrives on helping people overcome what seems like a daunting or permanent condition.

"I have garnered a following of people who come to see me when conventional treatments have failed to help them," he said. Uhan wants clients to have hope that the thing that hasn't been done yet will help'.... "The clientele who come to me are people who haven't given up. That's the people I want."

Uhan launched Uhan Performance Physiotherapy in Eugene over a decade ago and has diligently refined his clinical practice with continual education and training. He is a Board­-Certified Orthopedic Specialist and a Certified Functional Manual Therapist.

"I'm also fellowship-trained and that's a huge difference-maker," he said.

Training took him to Colorado, and when it came time to return to Oregon, he chose Sisters.

"Sisters has always been on my radar," he said. "Being able to see the Sisters when I come around the corner to work each day is amazing."

Uhan also serves as an assistant coach for the Outlaws' outstanding track program. Running got Uhan into physical therapy to begin with, and running-specific coaching is part of his practice. He does running stride analysis that can help clients prevent injury.

"It's a huge and wonderful overlap," Uhan said.

Both coaching and PT work require "figuring out where someone is at and where they want to be," Uhan said. In both disciplines, there is great satisfaction to be found in seeing those he works with become "stronger, fitter, more confident. It's helping people and just seeing their potential be realized."

While "performance" is a key part of Uhan's mission as a physical therapist, the definition is not confined to the playing field or the track.

"Performance is a broader form of talking about function," he said.

That function may relate to athletic endeavors - or it may be about working in the garden and taking walks in Sisters' abundant natural beauty. Uhan serves a wide range of clients. He said his youngest have been eight to 10 years old, and his oldest was probably about 85. He said his favorite clients are 50-plus years old, still active and goal-oriented - and complicated.

Uhan has developed his practice to become what he describes as a "complex pain specialist," and he thrives on that complexity, working to sort out the connectedness and origins of pain and debility. For example, he notes, 25 percent of foot pain can be traced to nerve pain starting in the back.

Oregon law allows clients to go directly to a physical therapist. Uhan accepts direct payment and does not contract with insurance companies. He likes the ability to work without restrictions on the scope of treatment.

He spends time with his clients, delving way back into their history of injury.

"Everything counts," he said.

With thorough assessment and deep experience in working through complex problems, Joe Uhan offers clients reassurance that their issues can be addressed, that "it's not a terminal dead end." With skill and diligent work, we can keep the active lifestyle that living in Sisters encourages and promotes.

Uhan Performance is located at 581 N. Larch St. in Sisters. To book an appointment, visit

Author Bio

Jim Cornelius, Editor in Chief

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Jim Cornelius is editor in chief of The Nugget and author of “Warriors of the Wildlands: True Tales of the Frontier Partisans.” A history buff, he explores frontier history across three centuries and several continents on his podcast, The Frontier Partisans. For more information visit


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