Marcus R. Neal

Desert Palms Owner

​Dr. Marcus Neal received his Bachelor of Science in Kinesiology from Arizona State University in 2003, and his Doctor of Physical Therapy from Northern Arizona University in 2006. Marcus is dedicated to continued education with advanced clinical studies with North American Institute of Orthopaedic Manual Therapy. Marcus joined Desert Palms Physical Therapy in 2006 because of their focus and dedication to continuing education, mentorship and clinical expertise. Marcus has a strong interest in Evaluation, Biomechanics, and treatment of shoulder girdle dysfunction. In his spare time, Marcus enjoys the outdoors including mountain biking, hiking and hanging out with his dog, Raja. He also enjoys all things dealing with food and beverage, including cooking, eating and brewing.

Michelle Miller
Thai Body Work & Tui Na

Michelle is trained in Northern Style Thai Massage; Jin Shou Tuina and CranioSacral Therapy.  She completed three apprenticeships in Jin Shou Tuina (Chinese Manual Therapy) and  CranioSacral Therapy.  Fascinated with Traditional Chinese Medicine, she switched careers in  2012 from scientific computer programming. She enjoys researching the effects of disharmony  in the mind, body, or spirit upon the whole person.  Michelle spends her free time training the  traditional Chinese gongfu arts of Xingyi Quan and Bagua Zhang, as well as Hiraido (Japanese  Jiu Jitsu). She started teaching Qi Gong in 2015.  Michelle has lived in Tucson for 12 years and  enjoys the desert, hiking, trail running, and spending time with her three children. 

Physical Therapy Providers

Michaela Gaither

Dr. Michaela Gaither received her physical therapy degree from Northern Arizona University in 2005. She has pursued extensive post-graduate training and is board certified as an Orthopedic Clinical Specialist (OCS) through the American Physical Therapy Board of Specialties. She is a certified manual physical therapist (CMPT) through the North American Institute of Manual Therapy (NAIOMT), certified in dry needling through Kineticore, certified in the Functional Movement Screen (CFMS) and the Selective Functional Movement Assessment (SFMA) levels I and II. She is a Certified Running Gait Analyst through the Association of Clinical Excellence. She uses 2-D technology during treadmill running gait assessment and a comprehensive orthopedic evaluation to develop an individualized program for the injured runner. This approach allows for expedited injury recovery, improved running technique and movement efficiency, and prevention of future injuries. Dr. Gaither is bilingual and is able to work seamlessly with English and Spanish speakers to address all orthopedic injuries in a positive, caring and supportive environment.

Cathy Blanchard, LMT

Cathy Blanchard graduated from the Western Institute of Neuromuscular Therapy in 2011. She holds a dual license as a Massage Therapist in Arizona and California. Her massage therapy sessions are a personalized approach to client specific needs with an emphasis on relaxation and rejuvenation. Her specialties include: Neuromuscular Therapy, Hot Stone Therapy, Shiatsu, Deep Tissue, Trigger Point, Swedish, Sports, and Prenatal/Postpartum massage. Cathy enjoys music, hiking, horseback riding and yoga. 

Vera Shury

Cert. Fitness

Vera is a Specialist in Fitness Therapy,  Internationally Cert.  Fitness Trainer, PWR Cert. and Neuromusculor techniques. She presently has classes through Oro Valley  Parks, throughout Tucson and Assisted and independent Living Communities and previously has provided them for schools, parks, residential communities and individuals. The curriculum includes  Neuromuscular body mechanics, healthy/holistic lifestyle, brain plasticity and FUN while providing integrated individualized training even in a group setting with the use of  Aerobic, Strength, Martial Arts, Dance, Pilates, Tai Chi and Yoga modalities. Vera would like to alert you to the Neuromuscular Techniques and education that will benefit your quality of life and be an advance to the care you provide for yourself and your family.      



As a former dancer, recovering runner, and aspiring cyclist, I had practiced Yoga intermittently for years. Four years ago, I began regular asana practice and study of Yoga philosophy. It became a passion and lifestyle I yearn to delve deeper into and share with others. After completing a 200-hour teacher training program at Barefoot Studios, I became a 200 RYT. I currently lead classes and private sessions around Oro Valley and Tucson. I continue training with Senior Certified Iyengar Yoga instructor, Ben Thomas, and with regular self-study, personal practice and workshops. I have experience leading Yin, Restorative, Hatha, Vinyasa, Yoga stretch, and Iyengarinspired posture deepening techniques. I take pride in teaching to my students' needs, learning from them, and creating understanding of the body, mind, and spirit through Yoga practice.

Movement Studio:

​​Lara Santavicca, RYT 200

​Lara Lara has more than 15 years of experience practicing YOGA in multiple formats and demographics. Her background in Public Health segued naturally into discovering the profound benefits that yoga contributes to our vitality. She is passionate about instruction; so her sense of humor and lighthearted approach help to demystify yoga adding modifications so that we can all benefit, regardless of our size, shape or physical ability! Lara is credentialed through the Yoga Alliance holding an e-RYT designation (meaning she has over 1000 teaching hours).

Bruce A Franke Jr.  


Desert Palms Owner & Founder

​Dr. Bruce Franke has over 29 Years of experience and is a clinical specialist, mentor, researcher and faculty instructor in orthopedic physical therapy. Dr. Franke established DPPT in northwest Tucson in 1997. Bruce has trained under many world renowned physical therapists and has always strived to provide a unique, comprehensive and aggressive approach to patient care.

Bruce received his PT degree from the College of St. Scholastica, in Duluth MN in 1987, his Master in Orthopaedic PT through the University of St. Augustine in 2001, and his Doctor of Science in PT from Andrews University in 2016. In 2002, Bruce achieved specialization as an Orthopedic Clinical Specialist (OCS) awarded by the American Physical Therapy Association and Fellowship status in the American Academy of Orthopedic Manual Physical Therapists (FAAOMPT). 

Bruce received the 2003 Therex Award for Excellence in a Published Case Study for his article “Formative Dynamics: The Pelvic Girdle”, published in the JMMT. Bruce has also enjoyed presenting his research related to pelvic girdle kinetic testing and the associations to lumbopelvic-hip pain, lower quarter load transfer and movement impairments at the World Congress for Low Back and Pelvic Girdle Pain (Barcelona Spain – 2007; Singapore - 2016); national NAIOMT conferences in 2010; and at the World Congress of Orthopaedics (WCOR) in Xian China (2015) and Seoul, South Korea (2016). 

Since 2016, Bruce has had the honor to participate as adjunct faculty in the Evidence-Based Practice course with the College of St. Scholastica in their online tDPT program. Bruce has also enjoyed providing residency, fellowship, instructing courses in orthopedic manual therapy as well as conducting clinical research in his partnered outpatient private practice. Many months of the year, Bruce is inspired within his NGO while volunteering, mentoring & training physical therapists in SE Asia.

Heidi Branlund

Heidi Branlund is a licensed acupuncturist and herbalist with over 15 years’ experience in helping patients achieve their personal goals of optimal health. She applies acupuncture, cupping and massage, treating a wide range of issues including: muscle pain/injuries, fibromyalgia, headaches and migraines, and women’s health issues. She holds a Master’s in Traditional Chinese Medicine from Five Branches University and is pursuing her Doctorate in Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine from Pacific College of Oriental Medicine. Heidi is also a mother to 3 children, and enjoys music and exploring outdoors with her family.

Kris Harris
Personal Fitness & Mat Pilates

Kris has lived in Tucson for many years and has two lovely teenage children. Besides being a busy mom, Kris is an experienced athlete practicing swimming, cross fit, boxing, etc. She has specialized training and  has a passion for working with elderly, injuries, gaining strength thru fitness training or mat Pilates. You can get all the proper stretching advice and stay protected during your training. She is a licensed fitness trainer for 15 years and every client of hers reaches amazing percent of progress.

You can join her at Mat Pilates Classes we offer during the week, or make a private session appointment at our clinic. 



Shey Meyers


Shey loves yoga because it gives her something no other exercise does.  Yoga not only heals the body, but clears the mind and lightens the heart.  Vinyasa Flow is her favorite flavor of yoga.  She loves the variety in sequence and the faster pace.  In May of 2013, she completed a 200 hour yoga teacher training with Sumits Yoga in Scottsdale, Arizona.  She is a registered yoga teacher (RYT 200) through Yoga Alliance.

Leah Hood, RYT 200


After 18 years as an elementary teacher and over 10 years of practicing yoga, Leah decided to combine her interests and became a certified yoga instructor. She received her training at Barefoot Yoga School in Tucson, AZ. Leah is passionate about healthy eating and caring for the body. She teaches a variety of yoga styles including gentle, flow, Yin, and children's classes. She is a certified yoga teacher through Yoga Alliance.

Christian Busch

Dr. Christian Busch received his Doctorate of Physical Therapy from the University of Kansas Medical Center in Kansas City, KS in 2015.  He has a wide variety of experience including acute care, inpatient rehab, and outpatient orthopedics.  Christian is currently pursuing his certification to become a Certified Manual Physical Therapist through The North American Institute of Orthopedic Manual Therapy (NAIOMT).  He is a member of the American Physical Therapy Association (APTA) in the Sports Physical Therapy section.  Christian joined Desert Palms Physical Therapy in 2016 because of the excellent mentorship and continuing education opportunities provided by the clinic to promote clinical excellence for their staff.  When Christian is not working, he enjoys cycling, hiking and drinking coffee.

Tonia Mayerle, RYT 200

Tonia is a 200hr certified yoga teacher working on her 500hr certification and Master's in Yoga Therapy at Mount Madonna Institute in California. She enjoys teaching classic Ashtanga and Yin yoga. She strongly believes a yoga practice can benefit every person no matter their body type, background, or ability. We start our practice every day exactly where we are and hope to grow it as we are ready.



NW 520-531-0305 | Oro Valley 520-338-2728 

Rani Menard

Rani graduated from Pima Medical Institute in 2010. She later returned to Tucson from Woodstock, NY where she worked as a PTA in a manual therapy-focused outpatient office. There she had the opportunity to co-develop a wellness program for Parkinson's patients as well as teach senior exercise classes. Certifications in complimentary & alternative medicine as well as being certified in Reiki have helped to facilitate her belief in a whole body therapeutic approach that nurtures mind, body, and spirit. These qualities, along with opportunities for continuing education growth, has made her feel fortunate to join the Desert Palms team.

Chiropractic care:

Dr. Murray Victor

Chiropractic Care

Born and raised in Brooklyn, NY Dr. Victor worked in the family bakery as a youth. 
After graduating with a B.A in 1980 from the University of Miami, FL he attended Palmer College of Chiropractic, Davenport IA and graduated in 1984. 
Dr. Victor did additional training in Lansing MI. 
In 1985, he moved to Tucson AZ, where he continues to practice chiropractic. 
His special interest is in osteopathic manipulation and activator methods, (a low force high velocity technique). Other techniques include  Myofascial strain/ counterstrain and Palmer methods. 
Dr. Victor utilizes specialized evaluation methods for spinal and postural correction. With more than 33 years of experience he utilizes a multi-disciplinary team approach to maximize the best possible patient outcome. 
Dr. Victor is known for spending time with his patients. His motto is to treat patients as he would  family. He’ll tell you that he doesn’t charge extra for his jokes. 
When not practicing he likes spending time with his friends, family, and his dogs. 

Integrative Medicine:

Dr. Bruce A. Sadilek

Integrative Medicine 

Dr. Bruce Sadilek has provided emergency and Integrative Functional Primary Care Medicine in Tucson, Arizona for over 30 years. He is an active educator and preceptor with Dr. Andrew Weil’s program of Integrative Medicine at the University of Arizona, lecturing and mentoring residents from around the country. Dr. Sadilek had been awarded the AzNMA Physician of the Year in 2007 and the SCNM Legacy Aard in 2008. He has developed his Physical Therapy and rehab interest and became certified in Sports Medicine. He is a primary care physician blending natural and conventional therapies.

Nora Rankin 


Nora has been practicing yoga for over 25 years.  When she retired, she decided to pursue her 200 hour teaching certificate at The Yoga Connection in Tucson.  She is currently enrolled in the 300 hour advanced teacher training course.  Nora teaches classes in gentle yoga and beginning/continuing yoga where she enjoys sharing her love of yoga.  Her classes are slower moving with lots of variety.

Julie Moore

Dr. Julie Moore has over 20 years of experience working in the field of physical therapy.  She graduated with a Doctorate of Physical Therapy from The University of Findlay and has continued to pursue her love for education throughout the years.  She is currently attending Andrews University pursuing a Doctor of Science in PT (DScPT) and is also completing a fellowship program through the North American Institute of Orthopedic Manual Therapy (NAIOMT).  Julie is board certified as an Orthopedic Clinical Specialist (OCS) through the American Physical Therapy Board of Specialties.  She is a Certified Orthopedic Manipulative Therapist (COMT) through NAIOMT and is also certified in functional dry needling through KinetaCore and Dr. Ma's Integrative Dry Needling (IDN).  Julie's strong desire to help others and make a positive impact on their lives keeps her progressively moving forward. Outside of work Julie enjoys staying busy spending time with her family, cooking, outdoor activities, and reading non-fiction.

Physical Therapy

Movement Studio


Michael Pritzl

Michael graduated from Pima Medical Institute in 2013 with an associate’s degree in Physical Therapy Assistant. Michael discovered his passion for physical therapy while working with his clients as a personal trainer in Wisconsin. Michael joined Desert Palms because of their targeted approach as well as their mentoring and continuing education opportunities. Michael brings a broad background of exercise knowledge to our team.


Elayne Vieira


​Connie Crum

Connie received her Bachelor of Science in Occupational Therapy in 1985 from Eastern Michigan University, and her Certification in Hand Therapy in 1992.  When Connie joined Desert Palms in 2015, she had been specializing in the treatment of the upper extremity for over 25 years.  She has taken numerous  continuing education courses in myofascial bodywork, and Feldenkrais based whole body therapeutic movement courses, and feels it is important to treat the whole person. She enjoys working at Desert Palms where the emphasis on an integrative treatment approach. When Connie is not working she enjoys travelling, mountain biking, playing tennis and playing guitar. 

Elayne Vieira was born and raised in Brazil where she graduated with a degree in physical therapy and pilates. She has moved to the United States in 2017 to continue her passion working in pilates and validation of her physical therapy degree.Over the years she has acquired 7 years of experience in Pilates and therapeutic class that includes owning and operating her own studio in Brazil.She is excited to bring her passion and care to her new home and learn much more along the way.