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.
Certified in 2016, Leah holds an E-RYT 200, YACEP certification with Yoga Alliance. She has been practicing yoga for over 15 years. Leah believes in the importance of making yoga accessible to all. She feels that the focus of yoga should be on calming the mind, listening to the body, building strength and flexibility, and improving balance. She teaches all styles of yoga but gravitates towards Hatha, Gentle, and Yin.
Leah relocated to Tucson in 2008, from Seattle, Washington. In addition to yoga, her other passions include gardening, landscape design, baking/cooking, and spending time outdoors. She is a former elementary school teacher.
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.
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.
Desert Palms Owner & Founder
Dr. Bruce Franke has over 34 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 Orthopedics (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.
Eliana Duarte, LMT
Eliana Duarte is an Arizona native from Nogales. She is bilingual in both English and Spanish. Eliana is a graduate of Arizona School of Integrative Studies. In addition, she is currently working towards an orthopedic massage certification. With over 11 years in the physical therapy field as a technician, her experience in wellness and rehabilitation have developed her expertise and passion in working with clients of diverse ages with a range of conditions. She recognizes that everyone has unique needs and deserves special attention tailored to their condition.
Eliana’s specialties include: Neuromuscular Therapy, Hot Stone Therapy, Cupping, Deep Tissue, Trigger Point, Swedish, Sports, and Prenatal Massage. She believes that massage therapy contributes to a person’s overall wellness of mind, body, and spirit. There’s nothing more gratifying for her than seeing clients leaving better than when they first arrive.
Eliana enjoys cooking, reading, and spending time with her family.
In 2006, Kris became an AFAA certified Personal Trainer and Group Fitness Instructor because she wanted the opportunity to be able to help others through fitness. Kris feels that fitness is the cornerstone to overall health and wellness and that getting fit is the first step to a new and healthy lifestyle. She says that helping clients reach their fitness goals by providing them with the correct tools and guidance, is the most rewarding aspect of her job. She is passionate about fitness and enjoys swimming and hiking. She has experience working in physical therapy and rehabilitation and has worked with many individuals that have specific health conditions such as arthritis, scoliosis, and osteoporosis. It is her desire to help clients achieve improved overall health through exercise. Her background also includes extensive teaching and training experience in Pilates including equipment like the Reformer, Trapeze Table, Chair, and mat. She looks forward to having the opportunity to help you achieve your goals.
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.
Dr. Dan Norkiewicz is a Doctor of Physical Therapy with 30 years of clinical experience. He received his bachelor’s degree in Liberal Arts from The University of Pittsburgh, a Master's in Physical Therapy from Slippery Rock University and a Doctorate in Physical Therapy from the University of St. Augustine in 2010. Dr. Norkiewicz is a certified Manual Therapist, as well as a certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist through the NSCA. He continually participates in extensive continuing education to expand his skills and extend options for patient care.
Dr. Norkiewicz is originally from Pittsburgh, PA where he directed several orthopedic outpatient sports medicine clinics, staffed skilled nursing facilities, home health agencies and private practices. He strives to integrate patient goals with an understanding of balancing the body to maintain results. Dr. Norkiewicz chooses to stay in the clinic because he enjoys helping to guide and empower people get their lives back.
He also enjoys mountain biking, hiking, yoga, live music and exploring this world with his wife
Dr. Benjamin Pierce graduated in 2020 with a doctorate of Physical Therapy from the University of Michigan-Flint. Benjamin loves helping people, and he became a Physical Therapist to help people live their best lives. Benjamin joined Desert Palms because of their focus on mentoring and clinical excellence.
Benjamin enjoys running, basketball, soccer, volleyball, hiking, reading, and spending time with his family
Pam was raised on ranches in Western Montana then left for the city to pursue a business degree in Spokane, WA at Kinman Business University. Later, Pam added an English degree to her resume at the University of Washington in Seattle. While raising a family, Pam worked in accounting in Snohomish, WA. Pam returned to school in Bellingham, WA and earned her PTA degree from Whatcom Community College in 2013. Immediately after school Pam moved to Oro Valley and has been a practicing PTA since.
Pam loves to explore, hike, travel the world and throw pottery in her free time. When possible she returns to the Pacific Northwest to spend time with family and enjoy the Evergreen State.
Dr. Bruce A. Sadilek, NMD
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.
Dr. Allison Weinberg gained her desire to pursue physical therapy after suffering a serious soccer injury her freshman year of high school, which led her to an entire summer rehabilitating her ankle to physical therapy. Despite being a competitive athlete and having to miss numerous soccer tournaments, Allison looked forward to each therapy session due to the uplifting environment, motivation, support and compassion employed by her physical therapist and support staff. Allison created lifelong friendships from this experience, was able to continue on with her soccer career, and most importantly realized that her career path in life was to become a physical therapist so that she could help as many people as she could, just as her therapist did for her.
Allison was raised in the Midwest, having lived in St. Charles, Illinois for 22 years. Allison attended Augustana College where she gained a degree in Biological Sciences, with a minor in Psychology. She then took a few years off of school to gain further experience in the field of physical Therapy where she was employed as a physical therapy technician. Allison also became a certified personal trainer and ran her own business for several years. Following several years of work, Allison went on to receive her Doctorate of Physical Therapy at Midwestern University-Glendale in 2017. Allison has a strong passion for sport specific rehabilitation having been an athlete for 24 years.
Despite being from the Midwest, Allison loves being outdoors in the Arizona sun exploring and hiking new trails. Allison enjoys traveling the world, trying new cuisines, watching action movies, cooking, camping and going to country concerts.
Midwestern University, Glendale Arizona, Doctor of Physical Therapy, June 2017
Augustina College, Rock Island, Illinois - Bachelor of Arts, Biological Sciences, May 2010- Minor: Psychology
Dr. Camille Gavin received her undergraduate degree from Texas Tech University in Lubbock, Texas and then continued to Texas Woman's University, Dallas, TX where she received her Doctorate of Physical Therapy (DPT). She started working in Texas at an outpatient clinic with a focus on orthopedics. She recently moved to Arizona to be closer to family. In 2020, she received her board certification as an Orthopedic Clinical Specialist (OCS) through the American Physical Therapy Board of Specialties. She is currently pursuing continued training through the North American Institute of Manual Physical Therapy (NAIOMT) to finish all level I and II courses.
Being new to Arizona, she is enjoying the many variety of cacti and outdoor pursuits. She is excited to be working at Desert Palms Physical Therapy because of their provision of excellent continued training, development of clinical decision making and dedication to mentorship.
Dr. Kristen Ayres attended Northern Arizona University, where she received her Doctor of Physical Therapy degree in 2017. Kristen has experience treating patients at Mayo Clinic in Phoenix, AZ, including those with debilitating conditions such as end-stage cancer, Parkinson’s Disease, Multiple Sclerosis, traumatic brain injuries, cerebrovascular accidents, as well as a variety of post-operative orthopedic surgeries. As a former collegiate club soccer player, Kristen is passionate about rehabilitating musculoskeletal injuries. Kristen aims to provide high-quality, hands-on care by mobilizing/manipulating joints to relieve pain for her patients. Kristen plans to advance her manual therapy knowledge in pursuit of her CMPT, COMT, and FAAOMPT with the North American Institute of Orthopedic Manual Therapy. Regardless of the condition, Kristen is committed to providing a personalized, patient-centered, and evidence-based approach to recovery.
Doctor of Physical Therapy – Northern Arizona University - 2017
Bachelor of Science: Exercise Science – Creighton University - 2013
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.
Desert Palms Owner
Dr. Marcus Neal grew up in Phoenix, Arizona with an interested mind and a penchant for learning. He completed his Bachelor’s of Science with a major in Kinesiology from Arizona State University in 2003. He went on to earn his Doctor of Physical Therapy at Northern Arizona University in 2006. Soon after graduation Marcus joined Desert Palms Physical Therapy in Tucson, Arizona. Marcus has continued his education while in practice completing his Certified Orthopedic Manipulative Therapist (COMT) with North American Institute of Orthopedic Manual Therapy in 2014 and Orthopedic Certified Specialist (OCS) in 2016. Marcus became owner of Desert Palms Physical Therapy in 2014. He became a Fellow of the American Academy of Orthopedic and Manual Physical Therapists (FAAOMPT) in 2020. He is now working towards a degree in advanced manual therapy and clinical research; DScPT from Andrews University. Marcus now focuses his time on teaching and clinical education of learning physical therapists while continuing direct patient care and clinical research.
NW 520-531-0305 | Oro Valley 520-338-2728