Responding to demand for diversified services, a private rehabilitation provider continues to expand its offerings and reach

When Arden McGregor opened Brainworks in 2003, her focus was on providing client-centred functional rehabilitation to people who had been injured in car accidents. Living with the effects of brain injuries or chronic pain from soft-tissue injury, clients needed to learn new strategies to manage their lives and their new limitations.

McGregor’s philosophy: If you can’t fix a problem, then help people learn to compensate for it; if you can’t compensate for it, then help them learn to cope with it.

Her approach was to assemble a multi-disciplinary team that could assess physical and psychological needs and develop an integrated treatment plan, to be implemented by Brainworks’ rehabilitation therapists.

Ten years later, McGregor’s vision has not waivered, although her company has greatly expanded its services and its geographical reach. Initially a home-based business, in 2005 Brainworks moved into an office building on Waterloo Street. To accommodate further growth, McGregor purchased a heritage house on Ridout Street in 2007. Today, the company has 50 staff throughout Ontario, representing 15 different disciplines, and offices in London, Windsor and Muskoka.

While the vast majority of clients have brain injuries and/or chronic pain as the result of an accident, the company has seen a rise in people seeking treatment for depression, post-traumatic stress disorder and other mental health issues. Positioning itself as a leader in rehabilitation services, Brainworks has developed a number of custom and proprietary programs, including Contain Your Pain for pain management, Sleep Tight for sleep difficulties and hopetherapy to build and strengthen positive coping mechanisms. The firm also developed eRehabilitation, a web-based platform or rehab services that can be accessed by clients in rural and remote areas of the province.

“Our bottom line is about making people’s lives better,” says business manager Tony Collrin. “Our clients are striving to live as independently as possible. Some have mobility issues. For some living with chronic pain, just getting our of bed can be a challenge in and of itself. We listen to our clients’ dilemmas and develop rehabilitation programs to help break down their barriers.”

Collrin joined Brainworks in 2013. He has worked with McGregor early in his career as a rehab therapist working in an acquired brain injury program at Parkwood Hospital. From there he worked in the insurance industry for 15 years, and he is now applying that knowledge and expertise to managing Brainworks’ client files.

A high percentage of clients are referrals from personal injury lawyers, and Collrin works to open lines of communication with insurance adjusters and ensure that clients are receiving the full benefits to which they are entitled.

With Collrin on board to lighten the administrative load, McGregor has been able to return her focus to clinical work and client services. “When we started, it was not my goal to expand as much as we have – that has really been a byproduct of clients asking for different things and us responding so we can serve them as well as possible. We have a good web presence, and we get calls from all over the from people who have found us there – even from as far away as the UK and Europe.”

But while Brainworks is happy to provide information and help people around the globe, McGregor doesn’t envision setting up shop beyond provincial boundaries. “most of our health practitioners are only licensed in Ontario,” she says. ‘We know the system here well, and we are excited about helping people here to meet their goals.”

This article was originally published in Business London magazine.