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.
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.
Nela Skramstad has been a practicing Thai Body Worker since 2011. She attended the Healing Hands School of Holistic Health in Escondido, California. She specializes in therapeutic stretching and energy manipulation to help her clients achieve balance and well-being. Clients find sessions to provide reduction of pain and swelling, greater flexibility and a boost in their immune system.
Dr. Michaela Gaither received her Doctor of Physical Therapy degree from Northern Arizona University in 2005. Prior, she completed undergraduate degrees in Spanish and Microbiology. She has worked in outpatient orthopedics, acute and sub-acute care treating a wide array of conditions from sports injuries to chronic pain. She is passionate about empowering others to lead their most fulfilling lives by improving the way their bodies move and function. Michaela has taken continuing education through the North American Institute of Manual Therapy (NAIOMT), International Academy of Orthopedic Medicine, and is certified in the Functional Movement Screen (FMS).
Michaela is an active member of the American Physical Therapy Association and APTA Sports and Orthopedic Physical Therapy Sections. She joined Desert Palms in 2011 because of Bruce Franke’s reputation for clinical excellence in manual orthopedic physical therapy and advanced training opportunities through Desert Palms Institute and the NAIOMT. Michaela enjoys Desert Palms’ integrative approach to wellness and emphasis on restoring total body movement. Michaela’s hobbies include any outdoor activity, working out, travel and spending time with family and friends.
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. 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.
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.
Rebecca is a Pilates instructor and dance/movement therapist who enjoys working with all ages and fitness levels to promote healthy movement patterns. good posture and strong, agile, pain free bodies. A former modern dancer, she earned a Master’s degree from the University of Arizona, researching the role of dance/movement therapy as a healing modality for cancer patients. Rebecca is certified by American College of Sports Medicine, and is also a certified Pilates and Gyrotonic teacher.
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.
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.
Meridyth Duerr is recoginized in the Tucson community as one of the leading professionals in her field. With more than 30 years of extensive study and training, she combines a variety of execise systems to provide the most comprehenxsive conditioning programs available. Her background in dance, ice skating, swimming and Olympic lifting launched her approach to fitness. She is certified through the Pilates Center in Boulder Colorado Pilates Method, among various other certifications such as TheraPilates for Osteoporosis by Sherri R. Setz PTS and Medical Exercise Specialist by the American Academy of Health, Fitness and Rehabilitation Professionals. She has a keen eye for alignment and proper movement and strives to bring out the best in everyone she works with.
Dr. Julie Moore received her Doctorate of Physical Therapy degree from The University of Findlay and joined the team at Desert Palms Physical Therapy in 2014. She has over 17 years of experience working in a multitude of physical therapy settings including outpatient, inpatient rehabilitation, orthopedics, acute care, aquatics, nursing home, and home health. Her primary time has been spent in the outpatient setting over the years where she has gained valuable knowledge working with neurological, orthopedic, and spinal patients, to name a few. She is currently pursuing certification as an orthopedic manual therapist as well as an orthopedic clinical specialist. Julie enjoys the hands-on approach to treating patients, the emphasis of whole body restoration, and the unusual mentoring opportunities, all of which led her to Arizona to join the team at DPPT.
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.
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).
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. 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 Bachelors degree in Physical Therapy in 1987 from the College of St. Scholastica in Duluth MN; his Masters of Science in Orthopedic Physical Therapy in 2001 from the University of St. Augustine; and completed his Doctor of Science degree in 2016 from Andrews University.
Dr. Franke has presented research at the Interdisciplinary World Congress on Low Back and Pelvic Girdle Pain in Barcelona, Spain in 2007 and Singapore in 2016; at the World Congress of Orthopedics (WCORT) in Xian, China in 2015 and Goyang-si, South Korea in 2016; as well as at several other national conferences here in the US. Dr Bruce Franke is a Board Certified Clinical Therapist in Orthopedic Physical Therapist (OCS) with the American Physical Therapy Association. Dr Franke is a Fellow in the American Academy of Manual Physical Therapists (FAAOMPT), and a fellowship instructor and faculty with the North American Institute of Orthopedic Manual Therapy (NAIOMT).
Dr. Franke established DPPT in northwest Tucson in 1997. Along with his like-minded team of professionals he provides hands-on physical therapy, notably the highest quality of individualized patient care. The team utilizes an integrative approach to physical therapy, taking into consideration the whole body not only the injury.
In his spare time, Bruce enjoys regular exercise, walking his chocolate lab, traveling and spending time with friends and family.
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.
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.
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.
Marcella started in 2006 with Asian Bodywork at Fong's Health Center and became licensed with the state of Arizona in 2011. She has continued educational study in Asian Bodywork, Body Therapies and Thai Massage. Her beliefs toward the work are supporting patients and clients with education and self awareness toward balance of mind, body and spirit. In her spare time Marcella is a dedicated martial arts student and instructor in Wing Chun and Chi Gung.
NW 520-531-0305 | Oro Valley 520-338-2728
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.
Amber Kraaz received her doctorate of physical therapy at Midwestern University in Glendale, Arizona in 2015. She started her career in her home state of Oregon working in outpatient orthopedics and completed a residency program in clinical orthopedic manual physical therapy. She has experience working with athletes, geriatrics, aquatic therapy, and Parkinson’s treatment as well as general orthopedics. In 2017 Amber joined the Desert Palms team in hopes of continuing to enhance her knowledge and skills with excellent mentoring and continuing education opportunities. She is a Certified Manual Physical Therapist through the North American Institute of Orthopedic Manual Therapy as well as a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist through the National Strength and Conditioning Association. When Amber is not in the clinic she enjoys playing sports, exercising, hiking, and spending time with family and friends.