By JODY ZARKOS
Helping people heal is John Koth’s
MO. A physical therapist in Ketchum since 1991, Koth estimates he has
helped thousands of people return to their pre-injury level of health.
Koth, 38, originally hails from
Chariton, Iowa. He earned a Bachelor of Science from the University of
Iowa and a master’s degree from the University of Oregon, but he made
his allegiance perfectly clear.
We’re not quite sure what John
Koth uses the lariat for at work, but he seems quite happy about it.
"I am not a Duck. I am a Hawkeye,"
he stated. "Where you get drunk in undergrad is what you are. I did not
do very much tailgating working on my masters."
Koth employs such clear-eyed
resolution to his career as well. On July 1, 2003 he started Koth Sports
Physical Therapy. His wife of 16 years and high-school sweetheart,
Sherri, helps him run the business and the pair is aided by physical
therapist Karoline Droege.
We caught up with John at his
office on Wednesday.
JZ: How rewarding is it to help
people regain their health?
JK: Seeing people who are hurt,
who at some point can’t even walk across the street or are in so much
pain, get back to doing what they like to do is 100 percent. Being on a
mountain bike in the middle of nowhere and seeing someone you rehabbed
is pretty cool.
JZ: What is the hardest part of
JK: Living with the negative
aspect of someone’s life. For most people getting injured is their
darkest day. Keeping them believing that they will return to their
chosen activity or they won’t be in pain any longer.
JZ: What is the worst injury you
have ever seen?
JK: Probably the woman who hurt
herself two years in a row. One year she had a tibial plateau fracture
in her left leg, and the following year she broke the tibial plateau of
her right leg and the entire tibia (skiing). The combination of the two
injuries was terrible.
JZ: What was the most amazing
JK: In terms of recovery, a
patient broke her arm, her femur, and pelvis and returned to all of her
pre-injury activities with no repercussions.
JZ: How important is attitude in
JK: It is the most important part.
Attitude is 80 percent and genetics 20 percent. The body will heal
itself. People have to work hard, believe in themselves and what they
JZ: How do you blow off steam?
JK: Snowboarding, mountain biking,
road biking and playing with a four-year old.
JZ: Have you ever hurt yourself?
JK: I have had my knee scoped,
fractured my clavicle, fractured my jaw. Two of those three were
mountain bike injuries. There is a certain amount of luck in not getting
injured. We see people who are very experienced in what they do and they
still get injured. When you take your body above and beyond what it is
designed to do you can get hurt. That is what people in this town do.
JZ: If you could be any athlete
who would you be and why?
JK: Dan Gable. He has the hardest
work ethic I have ever seen in a person and is an all around
well-rounded human being. (Gable was 118-1 as a wrestler at Iowa State,
and won a gold medal in the 1972 Olympics. He is the Hawkeye’s all-time
winningest coach with a record of 355-21-5, including 15 NCAA titles and
22 consecutive Big Ten Conference championships.) Not necessarily for
his records, but for what he could do to motivate every level of person.
He took wrestlers that had potential and made them great and took great
wrestlers and made them even better.
JZ: Do you have a hero?
JK: Hero is a word that is
overused. There are a lot of people I look up to, like my father. He is
a retired Methodist minister. He was very good at motivating, listening
and helping people with words as much as physical actions.
JZ: What surprises you about
JK: Their insecurities. There are
a lot of people that you look at and think they have it totally
together. Nobody is totally confident, but they are all human.