Harlingen native to open occupational therapy clinic

Phillip Parker, 31, will soon begin helping people recover their physical and occupational health as CEO and Clinical Director of Omni Rehab LLC. (Courtesy photo)

HARLINGEN — Phillip Parker saw so many injuries while working for the fire department, he began wondering how they would recover.

That’s why Parker, 31, will soon begin helping people recover their physical and occupational health as CEO and Clinical Director of Omni Rehab LLC.

“We’re getting ready to open in September,” said Parker, who worked with the Harlingen Fire Department for about five years before moving to the Dallas-Fort Worth area for his graduate studies.

Parker spent his younger years in Harlingen before moving with family to the town of Glen Rose south of Dallas when he was in the eighth grade. He still has family in Harlingen and returned here after he graduated from high school.

“I worked for the Harlingen Fire Department while I was finishing my undergraduate degree at UTPA (University of Texas Pan-American),” he said. “I left the fire department to complete graduate school. That was I believe in 2017 when I left.”

He got his master of science in occupational therapy at Texas Women’s University in Denton, all the while remembering his experience with the fire department.

“I had been in the fire department in Harlingen where there are first responders, so we go to a lot of medical calls,” he said. “There’s a high prevalence of stroke in Harlingen and throughout the Valley so I had started going to a lot of stroke calls.”

The high incidence of stroke calls showed him how dramatically it can affect the patient, and that piqued his interest in therapy and recovery.

“I started wondering, ‘How are they recovering, what does that look like?’” he recalled.

He reached out to a friend who was a nurse practitioner at Valley Baptist Medical Center and arranged to start observing activities in the rehabilitation program. He realized ultimately that he wanted to work in therapy but couldn’t decide whether to pursue physical therapy or occupational therapy – so he applied to both – and got accepted to both.

So what did he decide?

“What made me lean towards occupational therapy was the focus on neurological impairments which is an interest of mine, and also a focus on the upper extremity which is a little more interesting to me,” he said. “So that’s why I ended up deciding on that specific route.”

He’s been practicing in the Dallas-Fort Worth area for a couple of years and also doing research with the University of North Texas on biomedical engineering for rehab equipment. He acquired an understanding of new equipment, new treatments and modalities available for people in occupational therapy.

Just one problem.

“A lot of that equipment and technology hasn’t reached the Valley yet,” he said. “It was always a plan to come back, and it was just a matter of when I was going to come back. Just seeing that need kind of made me start developing the concept for Omni. It’s been about a year in the works.”