James Dean

Top 40 Under 40 2011

Photography 3Ten/Aaron Pedersen

Age: 34

Job Title: Founding Director
St. Albert Physical Therapy & Sports Injury Clinic

Why He’s Top 40: He looks beyond profit margins to help underprivileged people who would otherwise not have access to physical therapy.

Key To Success: “I am nothing without the support of my wife, family, co-workers, friends and three young children.”

Unlike his namesake, physiotherapist James Dean is a rebel with a cause – many causes, actually.

Not only does he raise funds for the Make-A-Wish Foundation and Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation, he reserves 35 per cent of his appointments for people with low incomes, and does at least 15 per cent of his work without pay.

“I know these people would not progress without the care, so I want to do it,” he says.

In 2001, after Dean started St. Albert Physical Therapy & Sports Injury Clinic, he got a call from the daughter of a resident at the Shepherd’s Care Foundation, which provides care for low- to moderate-income seniors.

She asked Dean to help treat her father, who suffered a stroke six months before and hadn’t been able to walk since.

Through Dean’s treatment, her father was walking again. Realizing that other residents needed help as well, Dean set up a satellite clinic inside the Shepherd’s Care facility. The office later doubled in size, and so did his practice after he opened two more clinics in the Metro Edmonton area.

But Dean is not just a career man. His fundraising work is equally tenacious, and together with his colleagues his clinic raised $50,000 for the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation in 2010.

Recently, he and three physiotherapists from Dynamic Sports Physiotherapy, a clinic he opened in 2006, participated in the gruelling 125-km Canadian Death Race and raised more than $30,000 for the Make-A-Wish Foundation.

He’s also paying it forward with post-secondary students. After a year of mentoring University of Alberta students from the Faculty of Rehabilitation Medicine, the school appointed him to be a clinical associate professor.

But Dean is happiest when his clients stop coming to see him, something few, if any, entrepreneurs would say.

One client he remembers in particular had dislocated the bone in his foot by a full 180 degrees. “He was in a wheelchair, and now he’s playing soccer again,” he says. “It was cool knowing he had a very severe injury and that he’s back to being active.”

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