WHO WE ARE
We are here to help you build your skills and confidence as a manual therapist. We want to empower you with the tools to take your expertise to the next level.
Our goal is to engage, educate and empower each individual to ASPIRE to new levels in their education. Faculty and CFI’s can be available for discussions of difficult cases, technique practice, or study groups in preparation for our oral exams. Contact them personally for details.
ASPIRE OMT is a post-professional planned learning experience that focuses on evidence based clinical practice, mentorship, and education. In the ASPIRE system, clinical reasoning and biomechanics are given a strong emphasis. The institute is formatted to allow flexibility for professionals to advance at their own pace as time, finances, and experience allows. The structured programing is designed to take clinicians from new graduates to skilled professional, with a steady progression of skills. There are 11 courses that make up the core curriculum. They are offered in 3 day sessions(1 online, and 2 on-site). The faculty and lab assistants provide courses that are heavy in the lab portion, giving time for guidance to allow our clinicians to excel in competency. When the first 6 courses are completed, the clinicians may take oral examinations and earn a certificate of manual therapy(COMT). After the final 5 courses and examination, they will earn a certification in Spinal Manipulative Therapy(SMT). These courses can also be taken as CEU’s(21 hrs per course).
Our team of instructors and mentors is highly invested in bringing you the latest evidenced based and clinical proven methods of musculoskeletal assessment and treatment. We want to help you maximize your patient outcomes and satisfaction, and create lifelong relationships.
MEET THE TEAM
Founder & Senior Faculty
Erl Pettman DScPT, FCAMPT, has been teaching Orthopedic Manual Therapy(OMT) since 1977. He is founder, senior faculty, and lead examiner for ASPIRE OMT. Erl serves as an adjunct professor in the post-professional DSc Program at Andrews University in Berrien Springs, MI. He has owned two clinics, and founded two OMT institutes. His contributions to world of manual therapy include many presented papers and articles, as well as his book Manipulative Thrust Techniques. For a complete bio, see the link below.
Erika Fabian, DScPT, FCAMPT, FAAOMPT, graduated in 1993 at Semmelweis Medical University in Budapest Hungary. She immigrated to Canada and earned a BScPT from the University of British Columbia in 1996. She also became a Fellow of the Canadian Academy of Manipulative Physiotherapy in 2005. She earned a Doctor of Science degree at Andrews University in 2015. She was also accepted as a Fellow with the American Academy of Orthopedic Manual Therapists. She is currently working at her own practice and provides clinical mentoring and instruction for students. Erika loves the ocean and when not working, she is surfing and enjoying the beautiful island of Maui.
Laura von Wullerstorff
Laura von Wullerstorff, DScPT, OCS, COMT, FAAOMPT, opened LvW physiotherapy in Belgium, in 2009, and is specialized in spine and sports injuries as well as antenatal and pelvic floor rehabilitation. Laura owns and operates her own physiotherapy consulting business which allows her to teach manual theory courses globally as an instructor and examiner. Laura supports her patients to strive for a balanced approach to both health and body, whilst encouraging the therapists she teaches to continually seek certifications and education to help patients reach these goals. She is a POSE method running instructor and fitness coach. When not in the clinic she either running herself or enjoying spending time with her family outdoors.
Valerie Coolman, DsCPT, OCS, COMT, FAAOMPT completed her Doctor of Science in Physical Therapy from Andrews University in 2006. She passed the Certified Manual Therapist (CMPT) exam in 2005 with distinction and Orthopaedic Certified Specialist (OCS) exam awarded by the American Physical Therapy Association (APTA) in 2008. She also passed the Certified Manual/Manipulative Therapist (COMT) exam in 2008, with distinction. Dr. Coolman became a fellow of the American Academy of Orthopaedic Manual Physical Therapists (FAAOMPT) in 2010. She has served as the Director of the Post-Professional Physical Therapy Program at Andrews University as well as an Orthopaedic Fellowship Director. She currently serves as the Chair of the Leadership subcommittee for AAOMPT and Faculty for ASPIRE OMT, Erl Pettman's newly founded institute. She continues to collaborate and teach at Andrews University in the Post-Professional Department. Valerie is passionate about treating patients and assisting others to embrace the value of health, proper movement, and nutrition at her private clinic, Northwest Orthopaedics & Wellness, as well as mentoring other PTs on a journey of pursuing excellence. In her spare time, she enjoys supporting her children in various activities, as well as cheering on her husband, Head Coach of Valparaiso Varsity Basketball. The Coolman family believes that athletics provides an opportunity for life-lessons on and off of the court while recognizing the great pressure and stress placed on coaches and their families. Through the COVID-19 pandemic, the Coolman Family pursued a long-time dream, and Championship Standards was founded to bring support to other Coaching Families trying to maintain the "HOME COURT ADVANTAGE."
Stacy Soappman, DScPT, OCS, COMT, FAAOMPT, graduated from Andrews University in 2001 with her MSPT degree, and 2011 with her DScPT degree. She became a Fellow of the American Academy of Orthopaedic Manual Physical THerapists in 2011. Stacy believes that physical therapy is a combination of science and art and when we combine those two things we do our best work with patients. When not in the clinic you can find me outside with my family, hiking, biking, camping, eating chocolate and reading books under the trees.
Bruce A Franke Jr DScPT, OCS, COMT, MTC, FAAOMPT, received his PT degree from the College of St. Scholastica, in Duluth MN in 1987. In 2002, Bruce became a fellow of the American Academy of Orthopedic Manual Physical Therapy (FAAOMPT). Bruce graduated with his DSc from Andrews University in 2016. Bruce has enjoyed conducting clinical research and has presented at multiple national and international conferences including the World Congress for Low Back and Pelvic Girdle Pain in Barcelona, Spain (2007); Singapore (2016); and Antwerp, Belgium (2019); and at the World Congress of Orthopaedics (WCOR) in Xian, China (2015) and Seoul, South Korea (2016).Bruce instructed as adjunct faculty in the Evidence-Based Practice course with the College of St. Scholastica (Duluth, MN) Bruce has also enjoyed providing residency, fellowship, and instructing courses in manual therapy and therapeutic exercise in his private practice, Desert Palms Physical Therapy, Movement and Yoga Studio, in Tucson AZ. Many months of the year, Bruce is also continually inspired with his NGO volunteer teaching and mentoring of physical therapists in SE Asia
Amber Bell, DScPT, COMT, OCS, FAAOMPT, graduated from Andrews University with an MSPT degree in 2002 and with a DScPT degree in 2006. She became a Certified Manual Therapist (CMPT) in 2005 and a Certified Orthopedic Manipulative Therapist (COMT) in 2007. Amber received her Orthopedic Clinical Specialist (OCS) certification through the APTA in 2008. She became a Fellow of the American Academy of Orthopedic Manual Physical Therapy in 2009. Amber has lab assisted at all levels of the core curriculum with Valerie Coolman, Terry Pratt, and Erl Pettman. She loves mentoring and participates in CMPT and SMT online study groups at the request of students. Amber currently lives in Maine with her husband and two children. They enjoy lots of outdoor activities including horse-backing riding, boating/kayaking, and skiing, as well as time with extended family, friends, and church groups. She especially enjoyed homeschooling her children.
Clinical Instructor, Faculty-In-Training
Joe Krugh, DScPT, COMT, FAAOMPT, became a fellow of the American Academy of Orthopaedic Manual Physical Therapists in 2007. He earned his post-professional Doctor of Science in Physical Therapy degree from Andrews University in 2009. Joe strives to treat his patients skillfully, and also aims to empower them with knowledge to remove all potential barriers to their maximum performance and function. He enjoys running, hiking, traveling, coaching/watching his kid’s sports activities, and managing the family hobby farm.
Randy Castleman MSPT, OCS, COMT, FAAOMPT, graduated from Andrews University with an MSPT degree in 1999. After graduation he continued his education, earning his Orthopedic Clinical Specialist certification (OCS) in 2005. He became a Fellow of the American Academy of Orthopedic Manual Physical Therapy (FAAOMPT) in 2012. Randy has attended numerous other educational programs including NAIOMT, Institute of Physical Art, Connect Therapy with LJ LEE, and visceral work through Barral Institute. He has lab assisted for both NAIOMT and the Institute of Physical Art. He has been a Certified Fellowship Instructor (CFI) since 2012. In his free time, Randy enjoys outdoor activities including hiking, backpacking, snowboarding, fly fishing, boating and spending time with his family.
Randy currently lives in College Place, WA where he is the clinic owner of Total Motion Physical Therapy. firstname.lastname@example.org
Dina Kramer, PT, OCS, COMT, FAAOMT graduated from the University of Michigan in 1985 with a Bachelor of Science degree in Physical Therapy. She is certified in Vestibular Rehabilitation, Trigger Point Dry Needling, and a Credentialed Clinical Instructor with the APTA. Dina completed her manual therapy certification with NAIOMT achieving CMPT in 2010, COMT in 2014 and NAIOMT Fellowship in 2015. She is the owner of Kramer Physical Therapy, an outpatient private practice, in Knoxville, Tennessee. When she is not at work you will find her hiking in the Great Smoky Mountains or digging in her groovy garden.
Bret Swigard MPT, OCS, LJLCP, FAAOMPT, COMT, c. MDT, has over 20 years of clinical orthopedic experience. He is a PT instructor, mentor, consultant, clinic owner and clinician. Bret has enjoyed worked with professional athletes, professional dancers, collegiate athletes, and weekend warriors. He has had the honor and pleasure of training with some of the best PTs in the US and Canada and has a passion for sharing his knowledge and experience. Bret has won several awards including Eastern Washington University’s Clinical Instructor Award, the Mary Shields Wilson Award for Academic Excellence, and the Most Outstanding Student in the EWU Biology Department. Bret is a consultant for the International Ballet Academy in Kirkland Washington and owns Innova Physical Therapy in Redmond Washington.
Karen Greeley, PT, OCS, COMT, FAAOMT, trained at St Mary’s Hospital School of Physiotherapy in London (UK) from 1981-1984. After graduating she worked at Northwick Park Hospital in North London for 2 years before traveling and working in Australia, New Zealand and S.E. Asia. She arrived in Seattle in 1989 where she specialized in orthopedics and gained her manual certifications through the North American Institute of Orthopedic Manual Physical Therapy to their advanced level. She has also been progressing through the ConnectTherapyTM Program with LJ Lee PT, PhD in Vancouver, BC.
Clinical Instructor & Specialty Faculty
CAMERON L. GOMEZ PT, DPT, OCS, COMT, FAAOMPT, Lac. Cameron graduated with honors from the Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons with a DPT 2008. In 2014, Cameron obtained his COMT, and in 2017, Cameron became a Fellow in the American Academy of Orthopaedic Manual Physical Therapists. Cameron also went on to obtained a Master of Science in Acupuncture from the Tri-State College of Acupuncture in 2018. Cameron founded Cameron Gomez Physical Therapy & Acupuncture, and works on-site with the New York City Ballet and the School of American Ballet. His former career as a professional ballet dancer fuels his ongoing passion for helping dancers to achieve and maintain their optimal health and performance levels. In addition to his clinical work, Cameron is adjunct faculty at Columbia University Program in Physical Therapy, where he teaches two elective courses, one in dance medicine and the other on the rehabilitation of foot & ankle injuries. In his spare time, Cameron enjoys spending time with his partner, playing with his family of fur-babies, lifting weights at the gym, running, traveling to tropical islands, surfing, and scuba diving.
Kathy Berglund DScPT, OCS, COMT, FAAOMT graduated with a BS degree in physical therapy and an MA degree in sports medicine and athletic training from the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill. Kathy earned her DScPT degree from Andrews University. Kathy became a Certified Orthopedic Manipulative Therapist in 1998; a Fellow of the American Academy of Orthopedic Manual Therapy in 2000, board Certified Orthopedic Clinical Specialist in 2001.
Kathy served as physical therapy director of the sports medicine clinic in Kalamazoo, MI. She went on to become a professor at Andrews University serving as the orthopedics coordinator and later the director of the post-professional degree program in physical therapy, until 2016. She then returned to clinical practice and has been working in outpatient orthopedics. She has been a national and international teacher in orthopedic manual therapy for many years. Kathy’s clinical focus remains sports medicine and manual therapy but has also expanded to include working with chronic pain patients.
Laurie McLaughlin, DScPT, FCAMPT, graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Physiotherapy from McMaster University and received her Advanced Diploma of Manual and Manipulative Physiotherapy from the Canadian Physiotherapy Association with distinction. She was a chief examiner for the Orthopaedic Division of the Canadian Physiotherapy Association before completing a Doctor of Science in Physical Therapy at Andrews University in Michigan. She is currently an Assistant Clinical Professor at McMaster University.
Laurie has specialized in orthopaedic physiotherapy for over 30 years working in multidisciplinary environments as well as in private practice. She develops and teaches continuing education courses nationally and internationally for health professionals on a variety of topics including Spinal Manipulation, Breathing Evaluation and Management, Myofascial Management, Advanced Clinical Reasoning, and a Lumbar Spine Masterclass. She has written several book chapters as well as presented at scientific conferences and published in peer reviewed journals. Laurie is also a member of the Canadian Spine Society, a group made up of predominantly spine surgeons and has presented several times at their annual national meetings on the spinal triage program she codeveloped with Dr Dunlop, a spine surgeon.
Dr. David Musnick MD
David Musnick MD is board certified in Sports Medicine, Internal Medicine and Functional Medicine. He has been faculty at Andrews University since 2000 where he teaches Module 2 of Frequency Specific Microcurrent. Dr. Musnick has been in practice in Bellevue WA for 30 years at Peak Medicine-
He has taught Physical Therapists Medical Screening, Functional Medicine and Chronic Pain material for 20 years.
He has taken up to level 3 NAIOMT courses. He has developed the Functional medicine Approach to Pain Management as well as the Functional Medicine Approach to Traumatic Brain Injury and Concussion. Dr. Musnick is an expert in Nutrition, Sleep Medicine, Chronic Pain Management, IBS, SIBO, Hypermobility, Prolotherapy, Autoimmune Disease, Fibromyalgia, Viral illness and Immune Function. His teaching is packed with information as well as new and functional methods of analysis. He is also an expert in Frequency Specific Microcurrent to treat the brain, spinal cord, peripheral nervous system as well as disc, muscle and facet disorders. Dr. Musnick has written numerous book chapters including but not limited to: An Integrated Approach to Healing Concussion in Integrative Neurology Oxford University Press 2020,
Tendinopathy in Metabolic Therapies in Orthopedics, and Osteoarthritis in Metabolic Therapies in Orthopedics.
Specialty Faculty-Clinical Instructor
Susan Clinton, PT, OCS, WCS, FAAOMT is board certified in orthopedic and women’s health physical therapy, a fellow of the American Academy of Orthopedic Manual Therapy, and a board certified health and wellness coach. She is an international instructor of post-professional education in women’s health (including GI issues in women), orthopedic manual therapy, and business psychology. She is on faculty at Andrews University in the Doctor of Science in PT program, a Master Coach for the Integrative Women’s Health Institute. She is an adjunct faculty at many other universities and is an active professional/clinical mentor. Susan is the co-founder and board member for the foundation: Global Women’s Health Initiative. Susan is co-owner of Embody Physiotherapy and Wellness in Sewickley, PA. Susan enjoys walking / hiking, country line dance and ballroom, and is an avid supporter of music, the arts, and international objectives for women’s health.
Phil Plante, DScPT, MA, FAAOMPT, founded Action Potential Physical Therapy in 1997 with the goal of providing world class physical therapy in a local setting. His passion for treating patients in the Colorado Springs community continues to this day. In addition to practicing physical therapy full time, Phil is a Fellow with the American Academy of Orthopaedic Manual Therapists, providing advanced fellowship training to therapists from all over the nation. Phil holds his Doctor of Science in Orthopaedic Manual Physical Therapy from Andrews University in Berrien Springs, MI. Additionally, Phil has the elite title of Certified Orthopaedic Manipulative Therapist (Level 4) through the North American Institute of Orthopaedic Manual Therapists. He has a Master of Arts degree in Sports Science from the University of Denver in Denver, CO as well as a Bachelor of Science in Physical Therapy from Rockhurst College in Kansas City, MO. Phil earned his undergraduate degree in Community Health Education from the University of Northern Colorado in Greeley, CO. In his free time, he enjoys cycling, playing baseball, and fly fishing and relishes spending time with his wife, Eva, and their two daughters.
Brock A Charleston, PT, DPT, COMT, graduated from Purdue University in 1996 with a double major in Sports and Movement Science and Psychology. He went on to complete his Doctor of Physical Therapy from Finch University/The Chicago Medical School in 2001. After working 5 years in the Midwest, he had the opportunity to move to Maui, Hawaii and since 2008 owns and operates Lahaina Physical Therapy an orthopedic outpatient clinic. After successfully completing his CMPT certification in 2016, he enrolled in a fellowship program where he completed his COMT certification and successfully completed his fellowship in December 2020. Brock is always excited with the opportunity to work with fellow ASPIRE trained or certified manual therapists to continue to expand his practice.
Jamie Ford, PT, DPT, COMT earned her Bachelor’s of Science from Bemidji State University in Minnesota in 2010. She then went on to complete her Doctorate of Physical Therapy from Pacific University in Oregon in 2014. Following graduation Jamie moved to Kaneohe, Hawaii where she began her career with Fukuji & Lum Physical Therapy Associates, Inc. It is here where she was first introduced to Erl Pettman and was inspired to become a fellow in orthopedic manual physical therapy. Jamie became a Certified Manual Physical Therapist (CMPT) in 2017, and a Certified Orthopedic Manipulative Therapist (COMT) in 2018. She then completed her fellowship in orthopedic manual therapy in 2020 through the North American Institute of Orthopedic Manual Therapy. Jamie continues to work for Fukuji & Lum Physical Therapy at their Windward Occupational Rehab Center where she specializes in outpatient orthopedic conditions. Outside of work, Jamie enjoys all types of athletics and outdoor activities, traveling, and spending time with family and friends.
Marcus Neal, DScPT, OCS, COMT, FAAOMPT, 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.
Aaron Fuerst PT, DPT, FAAOMPT is a 2001 graduate of Washington University – St. Louis School of Medicine program in physical therapy. Aaron holds his Doctorate in Physical Therapy from A.T. Still University and is a fellow of the American Academy of Orthopedic Manual Physical Therapists. Aaron currently serves as the Clinical Educator for Riverside Medical Center where his focus is quality control, staff professional development, and patient outcomes. Aaron is also employed as an adjunct faculty member within the Kankakee Community College PTA program specializing in the areas of orthopedics and manual therapy. In the past, Aaron has worked in both hospital-based and private practice orthopedic physical therapy settings and was President and owner of Axcess Physical Therapy in Kankakee IL from 2008-2019. Personally, Aaron enjoys spending time with family and friends and currently resides in Bourbonnais, IL with his wife Nikki and four children. Aaron is involved in the community and serves as the Head JV baseball coach at Bishop McNamara Catholic HS in Kankakee and the current Director of Baseball Operations and pitching biomechanics instructor for the House of Sports travel baseball organization.
Dr. Christopher Thurston received his Doctor of Physical Therapy from the University of South Florida in 2012 after completing his undergraduate degree in Exercise Physiology from the University of Florida. His later achievements include being recognized as a board certified Orthopedic Clinical Specialist (OCS) in 2015 and a Certified Manual Physical Therapist (CMPT) in 2016. In 2019, he became a Certified Orthopedic Manipulative Therapist (COMT) and a Fellow of the American Academy of Orthopaedic Manual Physical Therapists (FAAOMPT). He considers himself a lifelong learner and truly enjoys devoting the time to helping others reach their full potential. He has previous experience as a mentor in both sports and orthopedic residency programs and is an APTA Credentialed Clinical Instructor. He has successfully completed Emory and APTA’s Vestibular Rehabilitation: A competency-based course. His abstract was selected for poster presentation at the 2018 AAOMPT conference titled, “The Manubrial Test: A Novel Assessment for Regional Interdependence in Adolescent Overhead Athletes: A Case Series.” He currently works at the University of Miami in the outpatient orthopedic setting treating patients with injuries related to orthopedics, vestibular dysfunction and concussion. As a University of Florida alumni, Dr. Thurston is an avid Gator sports fan. He also enjoys music, the adventures of being a foodie and a good laugh with his family and friends.
Dr. Julie Moore DPT, OCS, COMT, FAAOMT has over 20 years of experience in the physical therapy field. She returned to school to pursue a Doctor of Physical Therapy degree and graduated in 2013. She is board certified as an Orthopedic Clinical Specialist through the American Physical Therapy Board of Specialties and is a certified orthopedic manipulative therapist (COMT) through the North American Institute of Orthopedic Manual Therapy (NAIOMT). She achieved fellowship status in the American Academy of Orthopedic Manual Physical Therapists (FAAOMPT) after completing NAIOMT's fellowship program. She has enjoyed assisting in the past with clinical research related to pelvic girdle kinetic testing and the associations to lumbopelvic-hip pain, lower quarter load transfer, and movement impairments while working in Tucson, Arizona. Over the years, she has worked in many different settings and has loved all of them and the unique knowledge and challenge each requires. Julie is passionate about learning and loves to share her knowledge with others while at the same time learning from them.
Gail Elliott DScPT, OCS, COMT, FAAOMPT, received her Bachelors in Physical Therapy from Northwestern University in 1980. Her Masters in Orthopedic Physical Therapy from University of Indianapolis in 1993. She completed her DSc at Andrews University in 2020. She Received her FAAOMPT in 2016. She is the Director of the Postprofessional Program at Andrews University where she is also an Associate Professor at Andrews teaching in the DPT program. Physical Therapy and Manual Therapy in particular have been a passion for many years. She particularly enjoys teaching and mentoring students. Her relaxation time is spent reading, boating, camping, and traveling with family.
Clinical Instructor, Faculty-In-Training
Trenton Swoverland, PT, OCS, COMT, FAAOMPT attended Indiana University, graduating from Physical Therapy program in 1992. Seven years later, he obtained his Board Certification in Orthopaedics when tested by the American Board of Physical Therapy Examiners. He continued his education by becoming a Certified Orthopaedic Manipulative Therapist in 2002. As of 2005, he has been a Fellow of the American Academy of Orthopaedic Manual Physical Therapists. Trenton is also certified in Functional Dry Needling. When Trenton is not at work, he is usually found with his wife and four children at a sporting event, at the gym, or involved with the church. He enjoys assisting or watching his children’s extra-curricular activities.
Clinical Instructor & Faculty-In-Training
Brian Macks PT, DPT, OCS, COMT, FAAOMPT received his physical therapy degree from Wayne State University in Detroit, Michigan in 1985. He became OCS certified in 1993 and recertified 2003 & 2013. Brian passed his COMT examination with distinction in 2001 and was accepted as a Fellow of the American Academy of Orthopedic Manual Physical Therapy (AAOMPT) in 2002. Brian received his Doctorate in Physical Therapy from Wayne State University in 2018. Brian is a graduate of the North American Institute of Orthopedic Manual Therapy (NAIOMT) Fellowship Program. Brian holds membership in the AAOMPT and Orthopedic Section, APTA. His professional activities include Treasurer, Eastern District, Michigan Physical Therapy Association (MPTA) 1992 to 2000; manual therapy content expert, MPTA Direct Access Task Force, 1998-2003; Legislative Key Contact, APTA, 1986-present; and Warren, Michigan site coordinator for manual therapy 1994 to 2003. Brian is an Examiner and Faculty - Clinical Fellowship Instructor. Brian is the supervisor of Henry Ford Rehabilitation Lowell Park in Sterling Heights, Michigan where he sees all varieties of orthopedic/sports medicine patients. Other training includes Osteopathic Muscle Energy and Mariano Rocobado class-work. Family is at the center of Brian’s life with diverse interests including triathlon, camping, fishing, reading, and game nights.
Pam Kikillus practices in Tacoma, Washington. She received her Masters and Doctoral degrees from the University of Indianapolis. She completed her Fellowship in orthopedic manual therapy in 2007. She is a board certified orthopedic clinical specialist and a certified hand therapist. She practices with Olympic Sports and Spine and teaches at Green River College and the University of Puget Sound. She is very involved with the development of the exam for Orthopedic Specialist Certification with ABPTS. She enjoys spending time with her family, travelling, and spending time in the great outdoors.
Nicholas Smith PT, DSc, OCS, COMT, FAAOMPT practices physical therapy in Kalamazoo, MI with NovaCare Rehabilitation. His practice includes both acute and chronic spine care, TMD, secondary otalgia, headaches, sports rehabilitation, general orthopedics, industrial rehabilitation, vestibular and balance disorders. He has instructed and lab assisted several manual therapy courses at varying levels and is currently faculty for Select Medical in their COMT and Fellowship program. He has mentored several students at various levels including undergraduate, graduate, and post-graduate both in person and virtually. He has also completed a vestibular online module for a fellowship program and has assisted Andrews doctoral students with their research.
Lab assistants are a great asset to the classroom. They assist in the lab portion of the course, helping students to hone their skills. The lab assistant gets credit for continuing education hours. Assisting also helps solidify theory in preparation for the exams. It is a pathway to becoming a faculty in training. as well. Lab assisting is a volunteer position. See requirements below.
Lab assistants are required to have completed the course and the exam of the level above the course they desire to assist in. They need to read and agree to the quidelines for being a lab assistant. Lab assistants must hold and submit a copy of a current PT license, as well as a copy of personal malpractice insurance that includes a consulting services rider. To become a lab assistant for a course, they need to contact the lead faculty instructor to gain permission to be their assistant.
Submit a current physical therapy license to
Submit a current personal malpractice insurance with a consulting services rider to ASPRIE at email@example.com.
Complete a release of liability for every course at which you lab assistant.
Be prepared to perform in the lab assistant function by reviewing the material for the course on which you will assist.
Come prepared to have techniques demonstrated on you and inform the Instructor(s) of any precautions prior to being a model.
Provide assistance to students during lab time, checking technique, and answering student questions.
Refer questions to the instructor if unable to give an answer.
In the lab sessions or breaks, teach only the theory or techniques that have been introduced and taught during the course. Do not offer personal treatment or theory opinions.
Treatment of course participant’s is NOT permitted. Inform the instructor if a student has a problem or develops a problem during the class.
Obtain permission from each student prior to touching them to perform techniques, assessments, or treatments.
When working with students, be aware of contraindications to techniques or areas of increasing sensitivity due to repeated assessment or treatment.
Treat course participants’ personal and health information as a matter of confidentiality.
If expenses are incurred due to having a lab assistant in the course, be prepared to reimburse the site coordinator.
Assist in room set up and break down, as needed or requested by the site coordinator or Instructor.
HISTORY OF ASPIRE OMT'S PETTMAN SYSTEM:
PROMOTING ORTHOPEDIC MANUAL THERAPY(OMT) IN NORTH AMERICA:
In 1968, Stanley Paris, a physical therapist, recently immigrated from New Zealand, wanted to promote manual and manipulative therapy in the United States. He set about forming the North American Academy on Manipulation Therapy. In attendance at the first organizational meeting were Cliff Fowler and John Oldham, Canadian co-founders of the Canadian Orthopaedic Division of the Canadian Physiotherapy Association. Interest in manual therapy was growing and in 1971, Paris and Oldham invited Freddy Kaltenborn to the United States and Canada. Now, in addition to the Paris and Canadian courses, enthusiastic therapists interested in expanding their manipulation skills and knowledge base could participate in courses offered by Kaltenborn as well1.
One such therapist was Erl Pettman. Pettman qualified as a Physio Therapist after completing his education at the Nottingham School of Physiotherapy (England) in 1972. He moved to North America in 1974 with his wife and settled in British Columbia, Canada where his journey into the world of manual therapy began. Although he had a deep grounding in anatomy and biomechanics, he had no experience in manual therapy and no Level I knowledge such as basic assessment concepts, selective tissue testing, and referred pain, etc.
Erl took his first orthopedic manual therapy (OMT) course from John Oldham in 1975. John Oldham, Cliff Fowler and David Lamb were huge contributors to the world of OMT as founders, instructors, and examiners of the Canadian Orthopedic Division of the Canadian Physiotherapy Association. They had recently (1972) created Upper and Lower Scanning Examinations using Cyriax's philosophy as their framework. John was amazed that Erl had no knowledge of Cyriax. Having just bought the newest edition of Cyriax's 'Textbook of Orthopaedic Medicine', John gave Erl the book (still in its wrapper) and said, "This will change your life and career". He was right. The book was the epitome of anatomical and clinical logic. It was the seed that would help Erl develop concepts in Clinical Reasoning. Erl had further courses over the next 3 years from Cliff and Dave. These three men were his original mentors and the four became lifelong friends.
Erl continued to advance his clinical skills with newly arrived Freddie Kaltenborn and Olaf Evjnth in what was known as the Nordic OMT system. He ate up their biomechanical model and their manual precision, especially in manipulation. It was their emphasis on safety and localization of techniques that made him a skilled enough manipulator to feel the confidence to later write his book “Manipulative Thrust Techniques”.
THE NORIDIC OMT SYSTEM:
Although the Kaltenborn-Evjnth Approach was just being introduced in the United States and Canada, it had been developing over the last 30 years. Freddy Kaltenborn had been trained as a physical educator, athletic trainer, and then a physical therapist in the 1940’s. His training included mobilizations, primitive manipulative thrusts, and exercise. However, many of Kaltenborn’s patients reported they got better results when they sought chiropractic care. However, because chiropractic concepts were not part of the traditional practice of medicine, the doctors at that time would not support it in physical therapy. Therefore, Kaltenborn started to look elsewhere for further training. He found two doctors in London who were unusual in that they were committed to training physical therapists in manual medicine. These were Dr. James Mennell and Dr. James Cyriax. Dr. Mennell had written several books on physical treatments and joint manipulation. Dr. Cyriax had written on an approach to soft tissue discorders with a specific evaluation and treatment system. Kaltenborn observed Dr. Mennell’s mobilization techniques and studied with Dr. Cyriax for 2 years. Upon returning to Norway and demonstrating his skills, the Medical Association for Physical Medicine cosponsored him to teach the Cyraix approach in 1954. 2
Cyriax came to Norway in 1955 to examine the therapists who had completed instruction with his approach. Kaltenborn and the therapist that he had taught formed the Norwegian Medical Manipulative Group. 2
The regional and nonspecific treatment techniques used by this group changed significantly in the 1950’s with the contributions of Albert Cramer and Alan Stoddard(whom Stanley Paris also trained with). They were medical doctors who also had chiropractic and osteopathic training respectively. They taught specific spinal techniques. After studying under Stoddard, Kaltenborn became an instructor certified in both Chrioropractic and Osteopathy. Cyriax, Stoddard, Cramer, and Kaltenborn worked together pulling evaluation and treatment tools from osteopathy, chiropractic, and orthopedic medicine, to determine which techniques should be taught in the Norwegian Medical Manipulation Group. 2
Kaltenborn then began incorporating his own techniques and theories into this system and it became know as the Kaltenborn Method. Some of the specific ideas that he brought to the system was the concave-convex rule, the emphasis on translator(linear) joint movements in relation to the joint plane during evaluation and mobilization treatment, using grades of movement, using three-dimensional positioning prior to joint movement, protecting the joints around the specific segment being treatment, ergoniomin principles for protecting the therapists, and teaching self-treatment. Kaltenborn emphasized biomechanics and functional evaluation of the locomotion system. He added treatment techniques aimed at pain relief, stretching connective tissues(of joints and muscles), and relaxing muscle spasms. He started teaching all these ideas in his courses in 1960 to therapists in the Nordic counties. 2
In 1968 Olaf Evjenth, OMT, another skilled clinician from Norway, joined the group. Evjenth’s training was in physical education, athletic training, and physical therapy. He expanded the concepts with specialized techniques for muscles stretching and coordination training. He believed in more intensive training that assessed performance. He put strong emphasis on developing equipment for home treatment, but also for egonomic innovations that allowed for more effective treatment, while being less stressful physically for the therapist. He also modified exercises so patients could do mobilization, stabilization, and stretching independently at home. Evjenth also introduced symptom provocation testing and symptom alleviation testing as a method to help localize lesions and improve the specificity of the evaluation. The Kaltenborn-Evjenth Concept also taught that multiple techniques could be used in the same treatment session, as well as how to sequence those treatments for the best outcomes. 2
Central to the Kaltenborn-Evjenth approach is the emphasis on restoration of the gliding component of a normal joint and a treatment plane is defined as the plane across the concave joint surface. Manual translatory techniques include traction, compression, and gliding techniques. Traction and compression are performed perpendicular to this treatment plane, whereas gliding techniques induce movement parallel to this plane. Mobilization and manipulation techniques are used to reduce pain and increase ROM. In this system, joint restrictions are classified as periarticular, articular, intraarticular, or combined in etiology. Periarticular restrictions owing to adaptive shortening of neuromuscular and inert structures (including skin, retinacula, and scar tissue) and articular structures (capsule and ligaments) are treated with sustained mobilization techniques. Periarticular restriction due to arthrogenic muscle hypertonicity is managed with neurophysiologic inhibitory techniques including thrust techniques. Intraarticular restrictions are best treated with (traction) manipulation initiated from the actual resting position. 3
Kaltenborn always felt that it was a good philosophy to incorporate useful tools from other approaches and acknowledges that benefits of the many contributions of physical therapists and physicians around the world. In 1974, Kaltenborn, Maitland, Stanley Paris, and Gregory Grieve found the International Federation of Orthopedic Manipulative Therapy (IFOMT). Through the forums held by IFOMT, the Nordic OMT System has been able to continue to expand with contributions from other representatives from other systems, and encompass a complete arthro-neuro-muscular approach to manual therapy.2
THE DEVELOPMENT OF THE ‘CANADIAN SYSTEM’:
Erl Pettman took this same integrated approach. While under the mentorship of John Oldham, Cliff Fowler, and David Lamb, he studied with Kaltenborn, and Evjenth. Erl was also professionally influenced by James Cyriax, Alan Stoddard, Fred Mitchell Jr., Greg Grieves, Geof Maitland, Robin McKenzie, Stan Paris, Wendy Aspinal, Bob Elvey, Dave Butler, and Nick Bogduk. From his mentorship, training, studies, Erl formed an eclectic system incorporating what he felt was the best of the best from each of these systems, along with developing his own theories and techniques such as the manubrial test, the figure of 8 testing for cervical spine integrity, and homer’s test for the knee. Using everything he'd been taught, he was able to realize that many conditions, especially chronic ones, did not occur in isolation. Rather, patterns began to emerge that pointed to the highly integrated connections between regions. For example, shoulder problems that originated from lesions in the neck, or breathing dysfunctions, thoracic lesions, and jaw dysfunction associated with poor posture.
At the request of many colleagues, Erl began teaching OMT courses in Canada in 1977. Erl’s goal was to assist new, as well as experienced therapists, in acquiring, enhancing, and applying manual and manipulative therapy, in a safe, efficient, and effective manner. His emphasis was on the application of biomechanical principles and clinical reasoning skills in the enhancement of assessment and treatment techniques.
Erl went on to produce Canada’s first eclectic OMT course in 1979, The Upper Quadrant Course, where he linked postural and spinal dysfunction to upper limb dysfunctions. Erl presented the Upper Quadrant course in front of the faculty of the Canadian Orthopaedic Division of the Canadian Physiotherapy Association. Among the attendants were David Lumb, Cliff Fowler, Anne porter-hoke, and John Oldham.
A year later, he went on to introduce the Lower Quadrant course along similar lines and with a similar emphasis. Erl managed to convince his colleagues in the Canadian Orthopeadic Division, that after teaching the Level I course, they should switch to Level II and III quadrant courses, reflecting their new grasp of neuro-musculo-skeletal pathology. This new structure became the basis for a three-month manual therapy course in Western Canada. These two courses would become the precursors to the Level III Upper and Lower Quadrant Courses taught today by both the Canadian Orthopaedic Division, the North American Institute of Orthopaedic Manual Therapy (NAIOMT), and ASPIRE OMT. In 1981, utilizing the ‘Quadrant’ concept as its theme, Erl constructed and organized Western Canada’s first long-term OMT course with clinically supervised practice. Erl also managed to convince an up and coming therapist, Dianne Lee, to teach these courses. Dianne Lee would become an internationally known, and well respected, therapist.
THE FORMATION OF NAIOMT:
Increasing interest in the ‘Canadian System’ of OMT from a number of American friends saw Erl, Dave, and Cliff teaching increasing numbers of courses for U.S. manual therapists. Erl decided he needed to come up with a more inclusive name for the system that respected it presence on both sides of the boarder. So, Erl developed the North American Institute of Manual Therapy, or ‘NAIOMT’. As the system rapidly grew in popularity, he recruited Jim Meadows to teach with him. To help teach and develop a proper curriculum, along with a policies and procedures manual, they then recruited Ann Porter Hoke. Gradually, as numbers continued to swell, Erl began to develop a faculty. Among the first were Bill Temes, Steve Allen, Kent Kyser, Kathy Stupansky, and Gail Malloy. This core group became the shareholders when they incorporated NAIOMT in 1992. It continues as a leading light in US post-professional education, one of the few that can bestow its graduates a Fellowship in the American Academy of Orthopedic Manual Physical Therapy (AAOMPT).
Erl became an Examiner for the Canadian Manual Therapy Examinations in 1980 and he was Chief Examiner from 1982-2002. Erl has also been a certified manual therapy instructor for the Olaf Evenjth system since 1990. His chapter on Upper Cervical Instability was published in Modern Manual Therapy, 2nd Ed 1992. Furthermore he has presented papers at IFOMT Proceedings in 1984, 1988 and 1992. In 2006 Erl published his first book….’Manipulative Thrust Techniques’. Since 1994, Erl has served as adjunct faculty for Andrews University. Erl’s relationship with Andrews University began when Kathy Berglund asked him to help teach an Advanced Master’s degree, which he was extremely happy to do. Very quickly, this program was converted to a DSc degree. In 2019, with great honor, Erl accepted an Honorary DSc from Andrews University for his years of outstanding contributions to the field of manual therapy.
THE FORMATION OF ASPIRE:
After 28 years within the NAIOMT system, there were many changes that were taking the institute in a direction that was outside of the initial goals. Erl decided to establish a new institute that was more faithful to his original ideal.
ASPIRE was formed in 2020, during the covid-19 pandemic. Erl established a system where the many instructors he had mentored over the years, could join him in formulating this new venture. He wanted to empower them to bring this system to the next generation of students and clinicians. His goal was for each instructor and student to feel valued, appreciated, and mentored to continue to grow as clinicians, educators, and to allow the passion for manual therapy to flourish.
Erl has not only been influenced by his instructors and mentors, but by his students as well. He welcomes questions and discussion that keep him digging deeper. He encourages his students to become life-long seekers and innovators. His faculty, students, and colleagues alike appreciate his dedication to passing on the torch as a clinician, instructor, and mentor. In his book ‘Manipulative Thrust Techniques’, Erl quotes Isaac Newton as saying “If I have seen further, it is by standing on the shoulders of giants”. ASPIRE faculty strive to carry on this sentiment, by both appreciating our mentors, and by mentoring the next group of aspiring manual therapists.
Erl Pettman has always been much more than a NAIOMT and ASPIRE founder, faculty instructor, examiner and mentor. He has brought his personal touch into every course weekend and cared wholeheartedly about the students learning, as well as about their families, and other important personal life matters. His distinct mastery for blending storytelling, the finer particulars of applied anatomy, and the intricacies of clinical reasoning are beyond any other professional learning experience I have encountered. Erl’s principles of a comprehensive examination followed by the ‘art & science’ of OMPT blended into precise manual techniques have brought years of clinical success stories under his wonderful guidance. I am eternally grateful and enthusiastically give my sincerest thanks and support to Erl Pettman and his faculty comrades that opened their arms as mentor, guide, and friend to me along this most successful professional journey. -Bruce A Franke Jr
Relationships. If there was a class titled Relationshipology, Erl Pettman would certainly qualify as the Distinguished Professor for the course. Over the past 4 decades he has studied the intimate relationships between anatomical structures and their contribution to the functional movement of the human body. Erl’s insatiable hunger to understand the biomechanical and neuromuscular relationships throughout the “whole person” is unparalleled. His comprehensive understanding of embryology allows him to expound on the life-long relationships throughout the human body, which are formulated at the stage of the embryo, when life begins. For decades, Erl has explained the “relationships” (now coined Regional Interdependence) between these structures drawing students and colleagues, alike into exploring this design. At the age of 72, he continues to build upon the knowledge, uncovering yet more relationships, which are often biomechanical or neurophysiological in nature. Every finding, undoubtedly confirms that the neuromusculoskeletal system of the human body was magnificently created to “work together” purposefully and intentionally.
Sitting in Erl Pettman’s course is life-altering. He unquestionably challenges the status quo. He welcomes the engaged student questioning “why” over the compliant student. He inspires the participants to use the relationship between their mind, eyes and hands. Minds that seek truth by utilizing specific analytical skills and clinical reasoning based on foundational knowledge with eyes engaging in careful observation and hands trained to palpate movement. Yet, perhaps the relationship most difficult to explain isn’t actually how a forward head posture could lead to a second metatarsal stress fracture, rather how a teacher could believe more in you than you actually do in yourself. Great teachers and leaders, like Erl, foster relationships to help others see their true potential which propels them further down a path than they dared travel alone. A respected mentor believing in students more than they believe in themselves is counter-cultural in today’s society which is self-promoting.
Anyone can take an online course and get knowledge but without that relationship, that mentoring and the empowerment that you can do it, the knowledge is USELESS. However, if you take a course from Erl, he gives you the knowledge and equips you in the belief that YOU CAN DO IT while offering life-long mentorship. Erl Pettman has an open invitation to a community of empowerment where individuals who ASPIRE excellence are equipped with the tools, as well as the confidence that together they can accomplish far greater than ever imagined alone. -Valerie Coolman
I met Erl 25 years ago in Canada during my manual therapy training studying from many amazing therapist , Diane Lee, Cliff Fowler. But it was him where I felt I was instantly hooked, it was a combination of wisdom , knowledge a sense of humor and last, but not least his caring loving personal way of teaching. When he had his hands on my neck demonstrating a technique I realized how less is more and precision is more important than force.
The Canadian system is a blend of many other systems from around the world without any dogma. I believe that ASPIRE is also follows this tradition and aiming to be a constantly evolving system. Anybody who has a chance should experience Erl’s class and teaching. I can only hope to ever be half as good a teacher and clinician as he is. -Erika Fabian
Analytical Skills in Pettman's Institute of Reasoning and Empowerment
Sharpen your evaluation skills:
Master differential diagnosis:
Expand your treatment approach:
Strengthen your clinical reasoning:
Receive clinical mentorship:
Detailed bio-mechanical assessments lead to more accurate diagnosis, making your treatment path more clear.
Rule out serious pathology. Know when to make appropriate referrals. You won't miss red flags.
An eclectic treatment approach expands your clinical tool box.
Understanding clinical patterns leads to more accurate diagnosis, decreased treatment time, and improved outcomes
Supervised clinical practice reinforces new technique and reasoning skills, leading to a higher level competence and confidence.
"Empowering physical therapists, through clinical reasoning, bio-mechanical assessments, and specific techniques, to treat each patient as a whole. While, at the same time, conducting ourselves with empathy, compassion, and respect...above all else"
We are an institute that is committed to your success. We strive for a positive learning environment that is facilitated by instructors who love to teach and mentor. We want to partner with you in your journey to becoming an incredible manual physical therapist and master clinician.
We provide a nurturing environment where students can question or struggle without fear of criticism. Rather, we encourage questions and debates to facilitate learning. Your clinical advancement, to becoming an accomplished orthopedic manual therapist, is our goal.
Achieve the highest levels of excellence in clinical education.
Sensitivity to our students and their patient’s needs.
Passionate about those who teach, learn and treat.
Innovate by thinking outside the box and developing new ways of accomplishing a goal.
Realization of all that you can be.
Embody all that you can hear, see and feel.