How an Iranian-Canadian physiotherapist created a unique business

Growing up in Iran, Shahla Tavakolnia always knew she wanted to be in the field of health care.

Shahla Tavakolnia is a registered physiotherapist, massage therapist and certified acupuncturist. Her health centre is near Finch subway at 15 Hendon Ave., in North York.  Physiotherapy can help relieve and heal physical ailments like arthritis, whiplash, sport injuries, back and neck pain, post fractures and post surgery, hip, foot, shoulder, hand and knee dysfunctions and spinal disorders. - Photo By Salam Toronto

Shahla Tavakolnia is a registered physiotherapist, massage therapist and certified acupuncturist. Her health centre is near Finch subway at 15 Hendon Ave., in North York.
Physiotherapy can help relieve and heal physical ailments like arthritis, whiplash, sport injuries, back and neck pain, post fractures and post surgery, hip, foot, shoulder, hand and knee dysfunctions and spinal disorders. – Photo By Salam Toronto

But fate threw her a curve ball in the form of the Islamic revolution. And despite the rise of the revolution, the subsequent closing of universities, and the uncertainties surrounding the future of the country, Tavakolnia’s dream was eventually fulfilled.

She enrolled for physiotherapy at the University of Tehran once schools re-opened. Outside of the classroom, while in residency at a hospital, her passion for the field solidified when treating those injured in the Iran-Iraq war.

“I saw many amputees, war injuries, brain and spinal injuries, which I would have never seen here,” Tavakolnia told Salam Toronto. “My true education was during the war.”

After graduating, she immigrated to Canada and found a home in Toronto, where she began working mostly as a physiotherapy assistant.

Tavakolnia started her own rehabilitation and physiotherapy clinic in Toronto in 2002, and tried to incorporate various techniques into physiotherapy treatment hoping to provide something unique.

The tools she added to her repertoire were yoga, pilates, movement therapy, acupuncture, and massage therapy.

“Once you have more tools, you have better treatments to offer,” she said, adding that she delivers a custom program depending on a patient’s needs.

The physiotherapy treatment offered at her health care centre – Unique Rehab and Physiotherapy – includes manual therapy like joint and soft-tissue mobilization exercise programs and postural retraining. Laser, ultra sound, and muscle stimulation electrotherapy is also available.

Tavakolnia’s passion for physiotherapy and rehabilitation can now be witnessed outside of her clinic. After an interview with Iranian-Canadian broadcaster TEN TV, in a segment focusing on community entrepreneurs, Tavakolnia and the show’s producers began discussing the possibility of her own show. Not long after, Tavakolnia found herself in front of the camera.  

“My plan was to access the community and to educate people on physiotherapy and its role in health and wellness,” she said.
“It’s actually a live show each week where I talk about a new physiotherapy-related subject, teach therapeutic exercises and answer callers’ questions,” said Tavakolnia.

Tavakolnia’s show, called Physiotherapy & Wellness, is now ten weeks old and she says there’s no end to the excitement behind educating people about her passion. If fate permits, in the future she will continue to broadcast her physiotherapy and wellness techniques to an even wider audience and possibly publish her own book.

Her 50-minute live show airs on Tuesdays at 8 p.m. and is repeated on Wednesdays at 8a.m. and Sundays at 5p.m on TEN TV.

For more information on Unique Rehab and Physiotherapy, visit www.uniquerehab.com.

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