At a morning class, physical therapist Sheila Yonemoto is teaching a group of curious students and patients something none of them has ever learned before. She talks of energy doors and energy showers—not your everyday terminology from most physical therapists. Mrs. Yonemoto is teaching the ancient Chinese healing therapy of Qigong, which she roughly translates as “working life energy.” She’s helping people to get energy flowing properly throughout the body.
“This was my first time. I didn’t know what to expect to be honest with you,” said student Bonita Martin. “I felt the circulation within my hands and arms. I do feel a difference. The way she presented it was also very relaxing and encouraging.”
“Pleasantly surprised” was a common reaction among the group. Even one skeptical patient admitted that the 90-minute class had opened his eyes to something new.
“It’s for general health enhancement. Western medicine tends to focus more on once it’s broken then you fix it, but not so much on prevention,” said Yonemoto.
Mrs. Yonemoto has been studying Qigong for 14 years under Master Yao Dajiang, who lives in Shanghai. To the delight of those in the classroom, Mrs. Yonemoto uses science to explain the actions. For example, one maneuver requires practitioners to touch the middle finger to the middle of the palm, an area that Mrs. Yonemoto points out has plenty of nerve endings while also maintaining a high voltage and low resistance.
“I knew if Sheila was teaching, the class would be fine,” said patient Lynn Bubbert. “I liked it. I could feel the energy, the heat and the magnetism.”
Like many of the Qigong students, Mrs. Bubbert also comes to Yonemoto Physical Therapy for other types of treatment. She fractured her arm several months ago and has been regaining feeling and function through Integrative Management Therapy (IMT), a treatment method that has roots in Osteopathic medicine. IMT is a whole-body approach that seeks to get to the root of the problem rather than just treating the symptoms. Few people worldwide have studied IMT, and fewer yet have Mrs. Yonemoto’s proficiency.
“I have studied IMT for almost as long as I’ve studied Qigong,” she said. “IMT uses very gentle, manual techniques to help alleviate muscle spasm, pain, and improve blood flow. It actually uses very specific vectors of forces and applies it in a manner that creates more of a flow. It’s gentle, it doesn’t hurt the practitioner or the patient, and it’s effective.”
In addition to IMT, Mrs. Yonemoto uses traditional physical therapy methods for treating backs, knees, necks, and shoulders. She’s treated 100-year-old patients for various ailments and patients as young as a few months old for Torticollis, or twisted neck. Yonemoto Physical Therapy conducts pre-employment testing for companies so employers can feel confident about hiring people who will be performing physical tasks. Yonemoto Physical Therapy is also equipped with a complete gym. Some of the equipment and weights were manufactured in Norway specifically for therapy. In another room, patients will also find something not readily available at most physical therapy offices: a 16’ x 24’ heated therapy pool complete with railings for safety.
Mrs. Yonemoto has a degree in Kinesiology from UCLA and earned her master’s in Physical Therapy at Stanford. She has experience working in acute care, outpatient, and orthopedic-based clinics. Mrs. Yonemoto even spent time working at the UCLA dental school learning to treating jaw problems like TMJ. Mrs. Yonemoto opened Yonemoto Physical Therapy with husband Stan nearly 30 years ago in Alhambra. She recalls the early days when she went door to door, introducing herself to doctors in hopes of getting referrals. Today, Yonemoto Physical Therapy is a pillar of the community, heavily involved with introducing Alhambra School District students to the occupation of physical therapy, providing free treatment to injured school athletes, and even sponsoring free summertime movies for thousands of children at the Alhambra Renaissance Regal Cinema. The Yonemotos have frequently been honored for their community service, including accolades from numerous organizations such as the Boy Scouts of America, the YMCA, and the Alhambra Chamber of Commerce.
“We feel that having a business is a responsibility to the community,” said Mr. Yonemoto. “I think the community has supported us not only because our business helps people get healthy, but because we are also people who want to give back to the community.”
Yonemoto Physical Therapy is located at 55 S. Raymond Ave., Suite 100 and can be reached at 626-576-0591. Visit the Web site at www.yonemoto.com.