Luke O'Brien

Luke O’Brien’s Vail story is modern. Yet it echoes Colorado gold-rush yarns from a century ago. He arrived with a small grubstake, a big work ethic, and a certainty in his bones that destiny awaited in Vail.

“In 2000, I was in my last year of physical therapy school in Australia,” he recalls. “It was Christmas break, and I booked a flight to Denver, then caught the first bus to Vail.” Upon arriving, he asked directions to Howard Head Sports Medicine. It was even known Down Under as one of the world’s best PT clinics.

So, jetlagged, broke, but eager, O’Brien walked into Howard Head and applied for an internship. To support himself while awaiting it, he took interim jobs. “I worked at the ski resort’s ticket office in the mornings,” he says, “and at the cinema at night. Once I got my PT license, Howard Head got me a work visa.”

That was 16 years ago. Since then, Howard Head has grown from six PT clinics to 10. With more than 70,000 annual patient visits. And O’Brien has risen to vice president, responsible for all 10 clinics. As always, some patients are superstar jocks. Most are locals: amateur athletes or arthritic seniors. All benefit from world-class treatment and cutting-edge research that reinforce the clinic’s global reputation.

Back in 2000, O’Brien came prospecting from Down Under. At Howard Head, he struck gold: the global gold standard in physical therapy.