Not Your Average Physical Therapists - List of PT's Around the U.S. for Climbers

Updated: Jul 14, 2020

A recent article came out in the American Physical Therapy Association‘s June 2020 magazine. The cover story featured physical therapy for rock climbers! As the sport of rock climbing continues to grow (despite the setback with Covid-19), there grows an ever more frustrated subset of injured climbers. They look to medical experts for help hoping to gain insight on how to recover. Unfortunately the answer they often hear is, “rest it out for 6-8 weeks, you don’t need surgery, stop climbing.” It’s unfortunate. There is a void in climbing rehab knowledge. But all over the country physical therapists are rising up to fill in that gap! Very exciting times.

In the article there lists 6 physical therapists and 1 physical therapy assistant that have been interviewed because they treat a lot of injuries related to climbing! And Chicago was lucky enough to have two therapists, me and Oliver! I will try to give a description of each person and links to their practices as well as a couple other therapists I know that work with climbers. Hopefully this list will help a handful of disgruntled climbers who are hanging on a thread losing trust in the healthcare field!

There’s no specific order to the therapists besides following the magazine's order from top to bottom. I took most of their bio info directly from their respective websites. I looked up each therapist with their linkedin profiles, work website and social media handles so if there is any outdated info feel free to reach out and I’ll make the changes!

Dr. Jason Hooper, PT, DPT, OCS, CAFS San Diego, California

It’s rare to be able to combine a career you love with a sport you’re passionate about, which is why Jason feels lucky every day to be helping fellow climbers as a physical therapist. Spending every weekend camping in his parents’ VW Vanagon or skiing in the Sierra’s, Jason’s passion for the outdoors was deeply instilled in him at a young age. He also knew since the 7th grade that he wanted to do something where he could help people and work with the human body. When he stumbled his way into the incredible community that is rock climbing, a light bulb came on — he had found a group of people who love the outdoors as much as he does, and who also have a very specific need for injury recover and prevention. Whether its further education and research as a PT or new training techniques for climbing, Jason’s goal is always to improve. He doesn’t claim to have all the answers, but with the help of science he knows he can be a positive influence in the community. Bio taken from:

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Dr. John L Huang, PT, DPT, DJ Huntington Beach, California

Dr. John provides individualized, one-on-one evidence-driven movement retraining, exercise programming and manual therapy for the active rock climber and outdoor athlete of all levels. Sport-specific nutrition coaching is coming spring 2020!

Our mission is to help climbers and outdoor athletes build both a strong physical and mental foundation for moving smarter and climbing harder – without the use of pain meds, injections or surgeries! We believe the key to mastering the MOUNTAIN is mastering your MOVEMENT – allowing you to tackle your personal goals through mindful movement and conservative practice. Our ultimate goal is to get you back on the wall pain-free and sending even stronger than before!

Bio taken from:


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Dr. James Lee PT, DPT, FAAOMPT Chicago, Illinois

Born and raised in Chicago, James has been a physical therapist since 2010. He has a strong background in treating all orthopedic conditions. In 2017 James received his Fellowship title by the American Academy of Orthopaedic Manual Physical Therapists (AAOMPT). This is a national organization committed to excellence in physical therapy practice, education and research. This title serves to recognize his competence and expertise in the highest levels of advanced clinical, analytical, and manual therapy practice for the treatment of musculoskeletal orthopedic problems.

James has been rock climbing since 2009 and has been to various parts of the world to climb. Naturally, He came to specialize in treating many climbing injuries from tendon strains, pulley injuries, shoulder pain, nerve impingement, medial epicondylopathy, etc. James is passionate in educating and mobilizing people to keep doing what they love to do in a safe manner.

James started Lee Physical Therapy in 2016 in hopes to try and bridge the gap between the institutional healthcare system and rehabilitation. The vast majority of injuries people experience will never require expensive X-Rays or MRI's, nor will they need pharmaceuticals. If surgery is not required, a surgeon’s advice falls short. Physical therapists are the experts in movement. We help those along the spectrum of acute to chronic injuries. we educate and guide individuals through their recovery process and ultimately help to enhance performance.



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Dr. Oliver Rivera PT, DPT, OCS Chicago, Illinois

Oliver is physical therapist working in the outpatient orthopedic clinic at the Shirley Ryan AbilityLab in the Streeterville neighborhood of Chicago. After graduating from the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, Oliver went west earning his doctorate in physical therapy at Touro University Nevada in 2017. After school, he completed an orthopedic physical therapy residency at the University of Illinois at Chicago in 2018, followed by earning his board certified specialization in orthopedic physical therapy in 2019.

Being an athlete since childhood, Oliver enjoys treating sport related injuries, and also has clinical interests in chronic pain, manual therapy, and concussion rehab. Primarily a soccer player, he stepped out of his comfort zone when he began rock climbing while in school in Nevada. His passion for rock climbing inspired his capstone project which was accepted and presented at a national physical therapy conference. In addition to treating patients in clinic, Oliver continues to conduct research at the AbilityLab and assist with the physical therapy programs at UIC and Northwestern.

In his spare time, you can find him on a soccer field, rock climbing with his friends, falling on his skateboard, and spending time with his wife and dog.

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For questions, you can reach Oliver at

Alexandra “Alex” Ortiz, LMT, PTA New York, New York

Alex is a New York State Licensed Massage Therapist with a degree from Finger Lakes School of Massage in upstate New York. Alex is also a New York State Licensed Physical Therapist Assistant with a degree from LaGuardia Community College. She became interested in massage to further her education in body work and enhance her manual skills in physical therapy. Alex is a member of a contemporary jazz dance company in NYC and teaches dance to middle and high school kids in Westchester, as well as a teacher and therapist at Dancing Dreams Dance for kids with disabilities. Alex has been working in rehabilitation facilities since 2006 and continues to seek learning opportunities. She believes manual therapy, in combination with therapeutic strength and exercise, is necessary for a healthy functional body. Alex specializes in myofascial release, deep tissue and sports massage for competitive athletes. In her free time, Alex participates in dance shows, outdoor activities such as rock climbing and surfing, and finds the adventure in everything. Bio taken from:

Dr. Allison Stowers PT, DPT Chattanooga, Tennessee

Allison Youngblood Stowers is a licensed physical therapist who earned her clinical doctorate in physical therapy from Georgia State University. A love of rock climbing and a dedication to its outdoor community recently brought Allison and her husband to Chattanooga, TN. That same love of climbing and the rehabilitation of common injuries seen among climbers are what ultimately lead Allison down her professional path. Along her journey, she was intrigued by the common issue of pelvic pain and urinary incontinence among high-level athletes and women in general. Thus, her further educational pursuit into pelvic floor rehab through the Herman and Wallace pelvic rehabilitation institute.  As a mom herself, she loves to help keep women moving during pregnancy and beyond. At Peak Fitness and Physical Therapy, she provides one on one guidance for climbers & other outdoor athletes in the Chattanooga community and offers virtual consultations via Zoom for those beyond. Allison teaches free workshops for climbers in her community and has presented at national conferences for physical therapists.  She serves as an area rep for the Southeastern Climbing Coalition and is a Wilderness First Responder. Bio taken from:

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Dr. Jennifer Truong PT, DPT Bend, Oregon

Originally from the San Francisco Bay Area, Jen has spent her time hiking and climbing throughout California, as well as in British Columbia and France before making her way up to the Pacific Northwest. She has volunteered at a homeless shelter in Los Angeles, in research labs at UCLA and UCSF, with blind veterans at the VA Hospital, and at various other hospitals and medical/PT clinics throughout her life.

She earned her Doctor of Physical Therapy degree in 2016 from the University of California-San Francisco/San Francisco State University (UCSF/SFSU) joint program, and completed clinical internships in orthopedics, sports rehabilitation, and neurological rehabilitation while also being an anatomy teaching assistant for medical and pharmacy students at UCSF and Stanford University. Her approach combines manual therapy (with special interest in fascia work), therapeutic exercise, and neuromotor re-training for better movement quality and return to activity.

“My experience as both a rock climber and a PT has helped me better understand how different parts of the body work together as a whole, functioning unit. In the clinic, I combine nuanced movement analysis with a holistic view of my patient to shape a personalized treatment plan tailored to patient goals for better quality of life.” Bio taken from:

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Other Climbing Therapists!

So the remaining physical therapists below are ones that were not featured in the magazine but they are people that I’ve encountered or have heard of in the past 10 years of my PT career.  If you know of any other therapists that focus their efforts on helping climbers, please let me know and I will add it to this list. I’m hoping for this to be a helpful resource for people to reference when they are in need of a climbing PT near them!

Dr. Piotr Solowiej PT, DPT Northbrook, Illinois

Piotr is Co-Founder and treating physical therapist at Team Sapiens. Born in Bialystok (Poland) his family moved to Chicago when he was 3 years old. He attended UIC for his undergraduate degree completing a Bachelor’s in Kinesiology, and obtained a clinical Doctorate in Physical Therapy at Midwestern University. He was team co-captain and earned All-Conference honors for high school varsity baseball, regularly plays 5-on-5 basketball, is an avid rock climber (mostly bouldering), and recently began attending BJJ classes. Bio taken from:

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Dr. Karen Fernandez PT, DPT, FRCms Northbrook, Illinois

Karen is a Physical Therapist, Co-Founder of Team Sapiens, and 200-Hour registered yoga instructor (Bare Feet Power Yoga). Born in Chicago, she also received her Bachelor’s in Kinesiology at the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC). She obtained her Doctor of Physical Therapy degree at Midwestern University. Karen was a varsity soccer player in high school, has been rock climbing for 6 years, and enjoys yoga. Bio taken from:

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