South Florida Rehab helps amateur athletes recover

One of the best ways to overcome a sports injury is by going to the right physical therapist. There are several in South Miami and one of the best is Gabriel Carvajal, owner of South Florida Rehab and Training Center, 5808 SW 81 St. “My job is to help people,” Carvajal says. “I love helping people.”

Carvajal has been a physical therapist for about eight years and specializes in sports medicine rehabilitation. “I work with all age groups. I specialize in sports-related injuries so my patients tend to be on the younger side,” he says. That’s not to say he’s not capable of working with grandma on her frozen shoulder or helping grandpa recover from knee-replacement surgery.

Carvajal finds his work very rewarding. It’s a thrill helping an injured patient who can’t walk and getting him out of the wheelchair and back on their feet.

“It’s one of the main reasons I do this for a living. I’m good at it,” he says. “It is also extremely rewarding to work with people who are active and want to remain active.” Since he deals with many athletes, he often works with athletic trainers and he actually has two on staff.

“They carry the load for me as far as plan of care and therapeutic exercises of the patients,” he says. “I do all the handson of my patients.”

Carvajal is an early morning kind of guy, normally starting work at 8:30 a.m. He puts in long days, finishing his work by 6:30 or 7 p.m.

“Since I own my own business, I don’t put a limit on when I’m done. I will stay and see my people,” he says. The office is open Saturdays from 8:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. Carvajal takes all the major insurances except for HMOs.

“I’m not a high-volume facility,” he says. “I typically see eight to 10 patients a day.”

That dedication to his patients helps them heal faster and is one of the reasons he wanted to strike out on his own. “My dream was, I would slow things down and I really take my time with my patients,’ he says. “An injury that might take two months, I may get the patient back two weeks early.”

He specializes in baseball injuries. His interest comes from playing the sport as a kid.

“So I know baseball well. When I became a physical therapist, I made it a point to make a niche and work with baseball players,” he says.

Carvajal also has clients that play football and some that play basketball, including players from the Miami Heat, Atlanta Hawks and Charlotte Bobcats. “I see guys who just want tune-ups because they’ve had a long season,” he says. “It’s more personal. It’s more like I want to feel 100 percent. If it’s a big injury and there is surgery involved, then the team or the workman’s compensation insurance pays for it.”

Carvajal also makes it a point to be well versed in the latest innovations in the field. “If you want to be on top, you have to put in the time, you have to do the research and you have to do the education every day,” he says.

He also teaches budding physical therapists at Florida International University, which helps keep him in touch with the latest techniques.

For more information, call 305-905- 4188 email Carvajal at

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