Vail physical therapist David Honda retiring this week
Honda has owned Vail Sports Medicine and Physical Therapy since 1989
VAIL — Like so many others, David Honda came to Vail to ski for a while. Now, after a career of getting active people back in their games, it’s time to retire.
Honda has owned Vail Sports Medicine Physical Therapy in Cascade Village since 1989. In that time countless patients have come through the doors, many more than once.
Patients who came for therapy after blowing out a knee in the 1990s are now returning for help with recovery from knee replacements.
Honda’s journey took him in and out of Vail a few times. He worked as an aide and then therapist for Mark Larson, the valley’s first physical therapist. After spending a few years in Los Angeles, Honda had the opportunity to buy Larson’s practice. He’s been in Vail ever since.
Honda said while his clinic works closely with surgeons and other medical providers, he’s proud that his clinic has remained independent from other practices. He’s also proud of all the people who have come through the clinic as volunteers or aides.
“About 20 aides and volunteers got into professional schools after gaining experience here,” Honda said.
Some of those people started as patients. Others have been local high school students interested in the field.
And there’s a lot to learn.
In the early days, physical therapy was based more on empirical evidence of which techniques helped patients.
Today, there’s a lot more science involved, Honda said.
Jennifer Martin, who’s taking over Honda’s practice, has a doctoral degree in the field — that’s required now.
Honda said there’s now a lot of research into what works and what doesn’t.
“But there are still some things that work that we don’t know why,” Honda said. “There’s something to be said for touch, too.”
Aside from research, some of the equipment has changed, too.
Honda noted a technique called blood flow restriction training uses something like a cuff from a blood pressure monitor to help ease the load on a patient’s joints and speed recovery.
Honda said he intends to continue to live in Vail, but will probably split time between the Rockies and Newport Beach, California.
“My goal is to be able to wear flip-flops and shorts in January,” he said.
Martin is one of the people whose career Honda helped start.
“David was my first employer,” Martin said.
Martin said she’s proud to take over Honda’s practice. “His dedication to this community and its people is remarkable,” Martin said.
Honda said the clinic and its patients are in good hands. And, while Martin said she expects her former boss to stop by the office from time to time, Honda isn’t so sure.
His road bike awaits in the coming weeks, and there’s more golf and pickleball to play. And, he said, he needs to work on becoming a better swimmer.
It sounds like a busy schedule. And, after 31 years at the clinic, he’s earned it.
Vail Daily Business Editor Scott Miller can be reached at email@example.com or 970-748-2930.