Dr. Mark Acierno, the eldest son of Claude and Carla Acierno, was born and raised just outside of New York City. There, he learned the value of hard work and he learned how to be a good listener.
“My Dad worked two jobs. Mom was right off the boat from Italy so she really didn’t speak the language when she came to the States. Through hard work and teamwork between the two of them, they really showed me how to be a better person.”
Dr. Mark has been married to Jodene, a Physical Therapist and his soulmate, for more than twenty years. They are the very proud parents of twin teens, Dominick and Siena. Each brought home a State Title for Urbana.
In his free time, he enjoys golfing, cycling, kayaking, gardening and backyard bird watching.
He earned his BS in Biomedical Engineering, MS in Physical Therapy and Doctorate degrees from Boston University. His expertise is in Sports Physical Therapy with a specific interest in shoulder dysfunction.
He is one of only fourteen PTs in Maryland certified in both Orthopedic Physical Therapy (OCS) and Sports Physical Therapy (SPT). Sport & Spine Clinics are now conveniently serving three locations.
It’s All About Health and Wellness at Frederick Sport & Spine
Dr. Mark calls it like it is. “If you’re seventy years old and you can’t move your joints, you’re not going to be a very productive member of society and you’re probably going to be pretty miserable.” So, what does the Clinic offer?
* Learn different ways to do things to prevent injuries.
* Learn how to take care of injuries.
* Modalities like ultrasound and electrical stim are options.
* Stretching & muscle re-education.
* Dry Needling
* Learn how to identify potential problems, such as poor posture.
* Learn at an early age how to take care of things.
* Self Empowerment!
The Sparking Of The PT Journey
Dr. Mark recalls, “I was a three-sport athlete in high school. I loved track, baseball and soccer.” But, an assessment by the school guidance counselor led him to become a biomedical engineer. “I hated it.”
He then acquired his MS degree in Physical Therapy with the intention of going into Sports Therapy. “I loved it.” Having several classmates from California, he decided to venture there to start his career.
He thrived while working in a corporate physical therapy program. “They were really young and growing, buying and creating clinics all over the country.” It’s also where he met his wife-to-be.
Not wanting to spend all of their vacation time visiting their families on the East Coast, they decided to move here. At work one day, he spotted an ad in a newsletter for a startup clinic in Frederick. It touted the opportunity to work with the Orioles baseball team while starting from scratch.
“We thought it was ideal so we came out and interviewed. We took a look at the place and loved Frederick. Frederick is very much like my home town, just outside New York City. Really, really loved it!
“My wife interviewed at FMH, got a job there and we made the move. We haven’t looked back.” About eighteen months later, they realized they were going to have twins. “I didn’t want my wife to work.”
Fortune Takes A Full 360 Swing
The Aciernos had decided to purchase their own home in the Clover Hill area when they moved to Frederick. Although he gave the corporate clinic a month’s notice after the twins came along, they fired him after only one week.
“I had no job, had twins, and then found out our house went up for tax sale because the escrow wasn’t being paid.” And, when it rains? He then got a notice from the Maryland PT Board that his PT license wasn’t going to be renewed because he didn’t have enough CE courses listed.
That turned out to be incorrect and the licensure issue was resolved. The escrow issue was then corrected and the first client was received at Frederick Sport & Spine soon after.
It Was The Right Time For Frederick Sport & Spine
“The way it was working with the corporate entity, it wasn’t enough. Corporations can spin numbers. It wasn’t satisfying enough.” So, he opened his own little practice about a block and a half from where he had been practicing.
That was the start of the Frederick Sport & Spine Clinic. It was a good move to get away from the corporate entity. They’re no longer in Frederick so that tells you the value of corporate physical therapy sometimes.”
“I’m really proud there are a lot of independent PT clinics. I would encourage anybody that needs physical therapy to go to one of those private practitioners as opposed to one of the big corporate chain kind of places.
Dr. Mark decided to go for his Doctorate in 2005. Part of the program required creating another clinic and Middletown Sport & Spine was born.
Ten years later, Urbana Sport & Spine was added.
The Biggest Entrepreneurial Hurdle At Frederick Sport & Spine
“I think the biggest challenge that we have is navigating the health care system. All I really want to do is be able to treat patients. I’m really good at that.
He continues, “But…Blue Cross/Blue Shield, Aetna, Medicare, documentation, reimbursement — It’s constantly being thrown at us.
“We have to navigate it. We have to change how we do things. The way care is being provided these days should not be dictated by the reimbursements. But, sometimes it is.
“So, it’s the struggle of being able to put the right product out there within the regulations of the health care system at this point. It’s constantly something that we have to worry about.”
Advice Dr. Mark Would Give Himself If He Could Start Over
“Take risk but move on quickly if it’s not working. On the personality color spectrum, I’m a blue. I’m a very touchy-feely kind of guy. That’s what most physical therapists are.”
This means that when something isn’t quite working, there’s the tendency to keep tweaking it to try to make it work. “Sometimes, we can drag it out too long. If it’s not working, move on.”
Making A Difference?
“About six years into the practice, one of my first patients walked back into the office and said, “Dr. Mark, I’m doing the exercises you showed me six years ago.”
He added, “It’s working. I’m doing this. I’m doing that. I didn’t think I’d be able to do that and I want to thank you.”
“It’s that kind of response from the community — it happens weekly… it happens monthly…we get it on Facebook — that’s when I know we’re doing the right thing.
Dr. Mark is frequently hearing “You have a great staff. What you’re doing here is really impacting me, my family and I can tell with all of the other patients in here that it’s really making a difference.”
He knows. “There’s nothing better. I know I’m making a difference with my business when my staff gets compliments like that.”
This Entrepreneur Would Be Beat Without His Music
“The one thing that I use more than anything that’s really important are the music Apps. Pandora. Spotify. iTunes. I don’t think I could live without them.”
What makes the Apps so crucial? “They provide motivation. They provide ambiance. They provide relaxation.
“I listen to all sorts of music depending on the mood; depending on the stressful situation. I rely on those significantly.”
Dr. Mark Shares His Two Favorite Quotes
The first quote can be seen on the wall in his office. “You are 100% accountable for your results.”
“If you don’t do it, nobody else is going to do it.
The second quote is in his high school yearbook, going back to music and the great Casey Kasem – “Keep your feet on the ground and keep shooting for the stars.”
Help Dr. Mark Achieve His Goal: Learn To Be Your Own Physical Therapist
When it comes to addressing mobility issues, the sooner the better! Call today to schedule your evaluation.
Ask about the SwimEx Aquatic Therapy Pool that reduces rehabilitation time and the Alter G Anti-gravity Treadmill that allows exericse without impact or stress on joints.
And, for the avid golf players! Maximize your mechanics to maximize your results with the SwingMAX program. Play at your full potential!
Frederick Sport & Spine
84 Thomas Johnson Court, Suite B
Frederick, MD 21702
Middletown Sport & Spine
205B South Church Street
Middletown, MD 21769
Urbana Sport & Spine
10082 Tyler Court, Suite C
Ijamsville, MD 21754
Contents Provided by Frederick Advice Givers Podcast Episode #098: Eric Verci Interviews Dr. Mark Acierno.