Dr. Joe Martin

Dr. Joe Martin is the founder and CEO of Function Better Physical Therapy, with locations in Clinton, Herkimer, New Hartford, Oneida, Rome, Utica and Yorkville. Martin earned a doctorate in physical therapy and is a board-certified orthopedic clinical specialist. Recently, In Good Health staff correspondent Barbara Pierce interviewed Martin regarding his treatment approach.

By Barbara Pierce

martinQ.: Tell us more about yourself and your mission for Function Better.

A.: I have a deep love for people and an interest in helping them. I have a desire to serve people with love, kindness, and compassion. My mission is to provide exemplary physical therapy services, and also to inspire people, lift people, and lead people.

The good we’re able to do, the lives we’re able to touch — that’s why we opened Function Better in 2002. I have a responsibility to put people on the right path.

Q.: How does Function Better help?

A.: Function Better Physical Therapy is an outpatient orthopedic practice with a mission to provide the most skilled and compassionate care for our patients. Our clinicians utilize a hands-on, evidence-based treatment approach that focuses on helping you as a whole person, not just your condition.

When someone comes to Function Better, he or she may be there for a knee condition, an injury, to reduce pain, or to improve strength and motion. What’s refreshing about what we do is that we see an entire individual, a valuable life, and a person in need.

For example, an elderly woman came to me to get strength and motion back in her fractured wrist. My 60-minute examination was so comprehensive that she and her daughter wondered why. Well, she was a woman with a full life of experiences, including the recent death of her husband.

Recovery of her strength and motion was a piece of cake. It was her depression, her balance deficits, her frailty, and her severe risk of future falls that set big alarms off in my head. Her real goal was to stay independent at home and we’ve helped her reach this goal.

Q.: Can you give us a sense of what your staff is about?

A.: I carry out my vision by hiring the most caring, compassionate, and genuine people on earth. I hire special people to carry out a special service, a deep and caring service that human beings deserve and need. High performance and credentials are important, but behind all of those credentials are exceptionally good human beings.

Q.: How did you choose this career?

A.: I’ve always been fascinated by the human body and that hasn’t changed.

Growing up in Whitesboro, I struggled as a young boy. At the age of 18, I enlisted in the Army, and that was a turning point in my life. I served in Saudi Arabia and Iraq during the Gulf War.

After being honorably discharged, I talked to a counselor at Herkimer Community College about becoming a physical therapist. Based on my grades, he said I wouldn’t make it.

I showed him when I became an honor graduate at Utica College and at SUNY Upstate Medical University in Syracuse, where I earned my doctorate.

For me, in a very moving way, becoming a physical therapist has allowed me to satisfy something deep inside me.

Q.: What do you enjoy most about your profession?

A.: I have a deep love and compassion for people. I get significant pleasure from serving others, from giving people hope and inspiration, taking away their pain, helping them progress, and assisting them to reach their fullest potential.

At age 46, I can say that being a physical therapist has allowed me to serve people on a very personal, life-impacting level.

There are examinations, treatments, techniques, and exercises, all of which help an individual regain his ability to function. But what I have enjoyed more than all that is my opportunity to listen and care about a fellow human being.

My greatest fortune has been my ability to form a deep connection with my patients. I believe with all my heart that true service to another human being cannot be achieved without love, compassion, and ingenuity.


Age: 46
Birthplace: New Hartford
Current residence: Marcy
Education: Associate of Applied Science degree, Herkimer County Community College; Bachelor of Science degree, Utica College of Syracuse University; Doctor of Physical Therapy, Upstate Medical University, Syracuse
Personal: Married, four adult children
Hobbies: Exercise, travel, creating new business opportunities, reading medical journals, mixology