Albemarle Neighbor: Bernie Blystone

By Anna Goodwin McCarthy

The Daily Advance

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As one of the first physical therapists to practice in Elizabeth City, Bernie Blystone has helped thousands of patients in four decades.

“I always wanted to be in the health care profession,” said Blystone.

After graduating from the University of Pittsburgh, Blystone accepted his first position as the head of physical therapy at Albemarle Hospital in 1975.

Blystone said he was familiar with the area after spending his honeymoon on the Outer Banks in 1974.

As the years progressed, Blystone said he witnessed many changes in the physical therapy profession.

“There are a lot of areas where therapy is utilized,” said Blystone. “Movement and exercise is extremely healthy for people.”

In 1983 Blystone opened Coastal Rehabilitation Inc. on the Outer Banks. Blystone said “there was a real need” for Coastal Rehabilitation Inc. with “physicians in the area wanting us to open.”

Coastal Rehabilitation Inc. currently offers physical therapy and occupational therapy services at six locations in Elizabeth City, Ahoskie, Edenton, Moyock, Kitty Hawk and Manteo.

“I love going to work everyday,” said Blystone who enjoys working with his patients and staff. “Our job is to help people get better.”

Blystone grew up in western Pennsylvania. His father was a machinist in a steel mill and his mother worked in a bakery.

“I was the first in my family to go to college,” said Blystone. “I know what a good education can do.” Blystone said he encourages youth to pursue an education by providing mentorships, internships and job shadowing at Coastal Rehabilitation Inc. “I want to help people move forward in life,” said Blystone.

A football, basketball, track and baseball player during his youth, Blystone always recognized the importance of exercise and physical activity as it translates to overall health. “Physical therapy comes naturally to me,” said Blystone.

Blystone is a member of Evangelical Methodist Church, the American Physical Therapy Association and previously coached football and little league baseball at the Boys Club.  He volunteered his services as a licensed pyrotechnician to present a July 4th Fireworks display for Elizabeth City for two years and more than a decade in Newbegun Land.

He enjoys spending time with his wife, two children and grandson.

“When it is all said and done I want to feel like I have made a difference in this world,” said the dedicated health care professional.

Anna Goodwin McCarthy is a correspondent for The Daily Advance.