Imagine suffering a serious injury while at work, playing sports, or just moseying throughout your house on a Sunday afternoon – a subsequent surgery and months of rehabilitation lie ahead.

WAYNESVILLE – Imagine suffering a serious injury while at work, playing sports, or just moseying throughout your house on a Sunday afternoon – a subsequent surgery and months of rehabilitation lie ahead.

Enter Affinity Orthopedic & Sports Therapy, a local private practice started in September 2012 by two certified physical therapists with a combined experience spanning more than 50 years.

Owners Cheryl Cawley and Mark Hagen brought forth their collective ideas to Waynesville to serve the community by offering post-surgical therapy, and by acknowledging children's needs, chronic pain and women's health issues at Affinity.

Together, Cawley and Hagen combined career positives "and implement[ed] them to create their own situation," Cawley said.

The therapists were first brought together in 2011 at a Rolla clinic where the knack for independence lingered.

"We both had great positive [career] experiences where we were at, but we both wanted that autonomy," Cawley explained.

And what better way to distinguish themselves by differentiating from the usual corporate structure involved in medicine by creating a business based on sustained personal interactions.

"We rehab [patients] one-on-one with the same clinician every visit – and that doesn't really happen a lot of times any place else," Cawley said. "You get to know the patients well and get that rapport, they gain your trust, and so you can have great results."

Both Cawley and Hagen said those unique personal interactions are a major benefit of operating Affinity.

"You're not going to get that at a majority of places," Hagen reaffirmed. "That's what makes it better personally for me."

Additionally there is no time limit in which the trainers can interact with individual patients, another aspect both Cawley and Hagen enjoy.

Business partners at Affinity since September 2012, the tandem enjoys a personal comfort level with each other's professional experience.

"There's not a whole lot of situations we haven't seen," Hagen emphasized with a smile.

Aside from normal business hours, Affinity is also closely affiliated with the Waynesville High School's athletics programs.

Cawley worked at a clinic in the Lake of the Ozarks area before moving to Waynesville in 2004, where she entered a contract – within a month of employment – with the Waynesville School District to become the school's athletic trainer.

"I love working with the kids because they keep you energized and they're always appreciative," Cawley said.

But being initially involved in sports-related injuries, that is, being present at the time of injury, Cawley's services benefit Waynesville's student-athletes as well.

"Sometimes they can get lost in the shuffle," she said. "They're doing something they love so you want to get them back as quickly as possible."

Too often, Cawley explained, family doctors are unsure of the health resources available to student-athletes, which often results in a doctor's imperfect advice. Because she is immediately involved, Cawley can help determine the path necessary – including doctor referrals – to return athletes back to top-physical form and re-engage in the activities they love.

The combination of individual patients during the day and a special relationship to school sports make Affinity a beneficial practice for all parties involved.

"Even though we want to make sure we survive here financially, we're not driven to try to make all this extra money," Hagen said.

Instead, it's about helping area residents overcome physical injuries in a positive, self-empowering environment.

For more information about Affinity, call (573) 774-3666, or visit the office at 24530 Southside Road, just south of I-44 in Waynesville.

*Cheryl Cawley has been an athletic trainer for nearly 28 years and a certified personal trainer for 13 years, including experience at the high school and collegiate levels, in addition to experience at various clinics. Mark Hagen has been an operational therapist for nearly 29 years, including experience in previous private practices, as a regional director for a healthcare network, and most recently at Mercy Clinic in Rolla.