Physiotheraprist Robbie de Fleuriot works with a client at his Fort Physio clinic in Langley, B.C. Photo courtesy Robbie de Fleuriot

Therapist finds beauty in healing, faith

  • October 16, 2021

Physiotherapist Robbie de Fleuriot believes in taking a holistic approach to physical recovery.

Owner of the Langley, B.C.-based clinic Fort Physio, de Fleuriot has found his life’s calling in helping people’s bodies heal from the agony of injury. Pain is the body’s way of communicating when it needs to be heard, he says. Understanding every injury is a trauma that impacts each individual in a different way is key in developing effective treatment plans.

There is a story behind every injury. While taking a trauma-informed approach to treatment is not yet widespread in the physiotherapy world, de Fleuriot is working to normalize that by training staff to be attuned to what is going on with each client.

“Injury is a trauma and a trauma is any time your nervous system is overwhelmed,” said de Fleuriot. “Our role is essentially to try and offer clarity and give (clients) context to understand what is going on in their bodies. We think about pain as being this terrible thing, but pain is amazing. It’s our body’s way of talking to us and if you don’t listen it’s just going to talk louder.”

As the clinic celebrates its fifth anniversary, the 36-year-old reflects on his journey. A devout Catholic, de Fleuriot — who was born in South Africa and moved to Canada at 15 — recognizes the connection between the body, mind and the spirit in recovery.

Trauma through injury disassociates the person from the body. Helping people re-associate by listening to their pain, taking the time to understand why it exists and how to treat it is vitally important to de Fleuriot. In the spiritual walk as a Catholic, that level of self-awareness is essential and when it comes to the body, he says it’s very much the same.

“Jesus came as fully divine and fully human and if we are going to be restored at the resurrection our bodies are also resurrected,” said de Fleuriot. “The healing of our body is very important and being in tune and connecting with our body is very important.

“Going to confession and knowing what you’re confessing, that requires self-knowledge. We maybe have an understanding of how we are sinning mentally but do we understand how we’re sinning against our own bodies.”

Growing up de Fleuriot always believed he would become a doctor until a connection made during a year with the National Evangelization Team (NET) helped him discern his true calling. His team leader, who just finished school to become a physiotherapist and had really taken the time to get to know de Fleuriot, had a conversation with him that would change the trajectory of his education.

“He sat me down and he said, ‘Robbie, you don’t want to be a doctor, you want to be a physiotherapist,’ ” recalled de Fleuriot. “I asked why and he proceeded to tell me why he thought my strengths were people interactions — that’s really where I came alive. As a doctor you don’t really do that. You see people for a very quick five or 10 minutes and they’re out but with physio you have the opportunity to journey with someone through an issue and the relational aspect is a really big part of it.”

De Fleuriot completed his undergrad in kinesiology with a minor in Catholic studies at Trinity Western University and Redeemer Pacific College (now Catholic Pacific College), where he met his wife, Laura, a teacher. They married in 2010 and moved to Calgary. De Fleuriot began working in a multidisciplinary clinic and was intrigued by one of the therapists who made a habit of probing deeper to find out the “why” behind each client’s pain. That was when he knew there was more to understanding the body.

De Fleuriot completed his masters at the University of Alberta in 2013, moved back to B.C. and by 2015 had opened the Fort Physio clinic. Whether it’s helping someone regain control over pain, find freedom again in recreational activity or improve athletic performance, de Fleuriot says his goal is for every client to feel seen and heard from the moment they walk in the door to when they leave. 

“The human person is this beautifully complex thing and it’s integrated in amazing ways. For us being invited into that journey with someone is an incredible privilege.”

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