Benedict J. Cooley, PT

Physical Therapist / Clinic Manager


Because of a high school athletic injury, Ben found himself as a patient in a southern California physical therapy clinic being rehabilitated to be able to return to sports. Because of that experience, he decided to pursue a career in physical therapy and has been helping others get "back in the game" ever since. Ben earned his Bachelor’s degree in Biology from Seattle Pacific University in 1992 and his Master’s degree in Physical Therapy from the College of Osteopathic Medicine of the Pacific (COMP) in 1996. Ben spent the first 11 years of his career working as a physical therapist and then clinic manager for a large southern California hospital's physical therapy department. While in California, he worked with a wide range of patients including inpatient and outpatient orthopedic, post-operative rehab, sports medicine and a special interest in wound care.

In 2007, Ben and his wife along with their 2 young boys, relocated to the Pacific Northwest and opened an independent physical therapy practice inside the Riverside Health Club in Mount Vernon. In addition to treating patients in the health club environment, he also enjoys working with the aging population at Creekside Continuing Care Community in nearby Burlington.

Ben enjoys working with patients of all ages. His treatment approach is to first fully educate patients about the nature of their injury, condition, disease or dysfunction. "When patients understand the problem and what it will take to fix, they tend to be more engaged in the process and more compliant with their portion of the treatment."
When not in the office, Ben enjoys boating, SCUBA diving, playing his guitar and working in his yard.

Virama Schmitten PT, CLT

Virama Schmitten graduated from Eastern Washington University Physical Therapy program in 1995. Prior to Physical Therapy, she was in private practice as a massage therapist. She graduated from the Brenneke Massage School in 1986, and completed her Lymphedema Therapist education at the Foeldi Institute in Germany in 1992. Much of her ongoing education has focused on manual therapy and postural balancing techniques. She completed level 4 of the NAIOMT Orthopedic Manual Physical Therapy program in 2005, and became certified as an Orthopedic Certified Specialist by the American Board of Physical Therapy Specialties in 2005. Virama’s treatment goals toward your injuries are focused on enabling you to move through life with greater ease, with little to no pain, and to help you maintain your health with a simple, daily exercise routine. Her treatment sessions are a balanced combination of hands-on works, strengthening, relaxation and movement education designed to help you meet your long term needs.

Karla Canapo

Receptionist/ Administrative Assistant


Karla is originally from Kingston Washington and has lived here in Skagit county for the last 10 years. She is married and has 2 wonderful children. Karla attended the art institute of Seattle and graduated in 1999 with a degree in interior design. After a few years in the field, the housing market fallout led her back to school to earn a degree in Human Services. "Working at Merit Rehab allows me to get to know and then to serve members of this community". In her spare time, Karla enjoys going to concerts as well as camping and hiking with the family and the beloved family Basset hound "Deuce"