The Michigan NeuroSport Care team also includes physical therapists, athletic trainers and health care providers who work as a collaborative team to provide an individualized, comprehensive, effective treatment plan. This multidisciplinary approach is what makes our program unique and allows for excellent service.
Michigan NeuroSport Vestibular Physical Therapy
Concussions can affect the vestibular system and cause an individual to feel dizzy, off balance and have issues with vision. Impairment to the vestibular system can lead to headache, eye strain, nausea and prolonged recovery if left untreated. The Michigan NeuroSport Vestibular physical therapists have specialized education in treating post-concussive vestibular symptoms. They provide evaluation and treatment during clinical encounters and provide a home therapy program that is built to optimize recovery and shorten the time to get back to normal daily activities including work, school and sports in a safe manner.
Wendy Carender, PT, MPT, NCS obtained her vestibular certification in 2003 and advanced vestibular certification in 2009. She obtained her ABPTS certification in Neurology in 2012 and is a member of the American Physical Therapy Association Neurology section. She is a 1985 graduate of the Krannert School of Physical Therapy, University of Indianapolis. Clinically, she provides comprehensive evaluation and treatment for patients with vestibular disorders, balance impairments and post-concussion syndrome. She has been a part of the NeuroSport Program since 2013, providing vestibular PT for athletes following concussion. She is involved in clinical research focused on Benign Paroxysmal Positional Vertigo (BPPV) and sensory augmentation for balance dysfunction. She has co-authored peer reviewed publications on balance, BPPV and vibrotactile feedback. She recently accepted a 4-year appointment on the American Board of Physical Therapy Residency & Fellowship Education Accreditation Services Committee beginning in March 2016.
Melissa Grzesiak, PT graduated in 2010 from Central Michigan University with her Doctorate in Physical Therapy. While completing her degree, Melissa developed a strong interest in the vestibular system and how even the smallest disruption can cause a tremendous impact on the body’s ability to function. Through both continuing education and clinical experience, she has learned how valuable of a role Vestibular Rehabilitation can have on recovery. In 2012, Melissa accepted a Vestibular Physical Therapist position here at Michigan Medicine and in 2014, she earned her Vestibular Certification. Currently, Melissa enjoys dividing her time between two clinics (Michigan Neurosport and Michigan Balance) performing comprehensive evaluation and treatment for patients who have been effected by vestibular disorders, balance impairments, and post-concussive syndrome.
Dr. Bara Alsalaheen is a physical therapist and a clinician-researcher at Michigan NeuroSport. Dr. Alsalaheen completed PhD training in rehabilitation Sciences from University of Pittsburgh. He also has a Master of Science degree from the University of Pittsburgh and a Bachelor of Science degree in Physiotherapy from University of Jordan. Dr. Alsalaheen is a member of a national taskforce charged with the development of physical therapy clinical practice guideline (CPG) for concussion and has extensive experience in working with post-concussion patients across all levels. Dr. Alsalaheen is involved in many concussion-related research projects at Michigan NeuroSport. He is also a Research Assistant Professor in the Department of Neurology at University of Michigan-Ann Arbor, and an Associate Professor of Physical Therapy at University of Michigan-Flint.
Michigan NeuroSport Spine Physical Therapy
Head and neck injuries can affect the musculoskeletal system leading to neck pain headache, dizziness and nausea, and if left untreated can prolong concussion recovery. The Michigan NeuroSport Spine Physical Therapists have specialized education in treating post-concussive musculoskeletal symptoms primarily stemming from the neck and spine. This spine physical therapy care is directed at the orthopedic rehabilitation needs of the post-concussion athlete for neck pain and headaches. Physical therapy and physician care is coordinated to provide in clinic treatment along with a home therapy program to optimize recovery.
Pam Knickerbocker, PT, MS, OCS graduated from Oakland University in 1985. She returned there and earned a Graduate Certificate in Orthopedic Manual Physical Therapy in 1992 and subsequently a Master of Science Degree in Orthopedic Physical Therapy in 1995. During this training she was fortunate enough to study manual therapy directly with Freddie Kaltenborn, PT and Olaf Evjenth, PT. She was admitted to the American Academy of Orthopedic Manual Physical Therapists as a Fellow in 1995 and maintained Fellow status until 2005. She has also earned her Orthopedic Clinical Specialist Certification through the APTA in 1995 which she has renewed twice and maintains. She began treating exclusively outpatient orthopedics specializing in the spine in 1987. She began her career at Michigan Medicine’s Spine Program in 2001. She has taken and taught many courses in orthopaedics including the spine over the years and has been active in launching and teaching in the APTA accredited Michigan Medicine Orthopaedic Residency Program. Pam has a special interest in treating patients with headache issues, including the post-concussion population.
Kari graduated with her Doctor in Physical Therapy from Central Michigan University in 2013 and started working at Michigan Medicine that same year. She has worked in a variety of settings in the university system, spending time in outpatient adult spine and extremity clinics, adult inpatient acute care, and pediatrics. In 2015 she worked to develop physical therapy services in the adult Emergency Department. In 2016 she joined the NeuroSport Physical Therapy team. She achieved board certification through the APTA as an Orthopedic Certified Specialist (OCS) in 2017. In addition to the NeuroSport team, Kari works in outpatient pediatrics specializing in orthopedic conditions.
Cindy Munday, PT, MPT, has over 20 years of Orthopedic and Neurologic Physical Therapy experience. She currently splits her time between NeuroSport and The Spine Program at Michigan Medicine where she specializes in treating people with back, neck and jaw pain, headaches, dizziness, and imbalance. Cindy is a member of the Neurology and Sports Physical Therapy sections of the American Physical Therapy Association (APTA) and credentialed Clinical Instructor. She completed her Master of Physical Therapy degree at Hahnemann/Drexel University in Philadelphia, became a Certified Neurologic Clinical Specialist in 2000 and held that distinction through 2010. While earning her Biology degree at the University of Michigan, she played euphonium in the Michigan Marching Band. Cindy is a musician as well as a parent of two teenage student-athletes and continues to play volleyball, softball, downhill ski and snowboard. She has lectured locally and nationally on concussion and performing arts medicine topics.
Julia Okuly, PT, DPT, OMPT graduated from University of Michigan Flint with a Master’s in Physical Therapy in 2000. She continued her education by earning her Graduate Certificate in Orthopedic Manual Physical Therapy from Oakland University in 2008 and her transitional Doctorate of Physical Therapy from University of Michigan Flint in 2017. She has been working for University of Michigan since 2002 predominantly in an outpatient setting specializing in neck, back and headaches. She has a strong interest in using integrative manual physical therapy including cranial sacral therapy and gentle nerve mobilization for the management of chronic pain conditions, concussion and headaches.
Nina Strang, PT, DPT, CSCS graduated in 2013 from Grand Valley State University with her Doctorate in Physical Therapy. Nina was a collegiate swimmer and has always had a passion for sports and fitness. She has always had a strong interest in orthopedics, specifically in assisting athletes in return to sport. In 2013, Nina began working at The Michigan Medicine Spine Clinic, treating patients with orthopedic pain of the spine. Through her clinical experience she has learned the value of educating the patient in combination with using an evidence based collaborative treatment approach. In 2015, Nina became a Certified Strength and Conditioning Coach to better meet the needs of this unique patient population treated at NeuroSport. Nina enjoys working at NeuroSport where she gets to combine her passions of treating the orthopedic injury in an athlete with her love for health, fitness, weightlifting and sports.
Michigan NeuroSport Pediatric and Adult Neuropsychology
Concussion and its downstream impact can lead to psychiatric and cognitive sequela. In some patients persistent psychiatric and cognitive issues become the primary cause of symptoms. Michigan NeuroSport has collaborated with adult and pediatric Neuropsychologists to serve the needs of these individuals by providing cognitive assessment and cognitive behavioral intervention. Overall, the goal is to help empower patients and their families by identifying actions they can take to improve their situation. Neuropsychologists work in collaboration with the NeuroSport physicians and therapists to provide comprehensive care for all patients recovering from concussion as well as those with potential long-term consequences of mild traumatic brain injury.
Abigail Johnson, PhD
Dr. Abby Johnson is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation who is presently being recommended for appointment to Associate Professor on the Clinical Track at the University of Michigan Medical School. Dr. Johnson received her BS degree from the University of Michigan in 2002. She completed her PhD in Clinical Psychology at Southern Illinois University in 2009, after completing a pre-doctoral clinical internship at Kennedy Krieger Institute/Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. She then completed a two-year post-doctoral fellowship in pediatric neuropsychology at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center from 2009-2011 and joined the clinical staff at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center in the department of Behavioral Medicine and Clinical Psychology. From 2011-2013 she worked developing multidisciplinary clinical programs for patients with traumatic brain injury at CCHMC. In 2013, she became an Assistant Professor in the Division of Rehabilitation Psychology/Neuropsychology in the department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation.
She is board-certified by the American Board of Professional Psychology in Clinical Neuropsychology. Dr. Johnson serves as the clinical training director of the rehabilitation psychology/neuropsychology fellowship program, directs the inpatient pediatric rehabilitation psychology/neuropsychology services and co-directs the rehabilitation psychology/neuropsychology concussion management clinic, in conjunction with the Neurosport program. She has primary research interests in developing psychological interventions for adolescents, children and young adults recovering from concussion, and promoting positive outcomes for all youth following traumatic and acquired brain injury.
Marie Van Tubbergen, PhD
Dr. Marie Van Tubbergen is an Assistant Professor on the Clinical Track at the University of Michigan Medical School who is presently being recommended for appointment to Associate Professor. Dr. Van Tubbergen received her BA degree from Hope College in 1994. She did her graduate work at Central Michigan University obtaining her PhD in Clinical Psychology in 2002. She then completed a two-year postdocotoral fellowship in Rehabilitation Psychology and Neuropsychology at the University of Michigan Medical School, graduating in 2004. From 2004-2009 she progressed through roles as Research Associate, Research Investigator, and Clinical Lecturer in the Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation. She has been an Assistant Professor from 2009 to the current time.
Michigan NeuroSport Social Work
Following a neurologic injury from sport, particularly concussion, new or worsening psychiatric symptoms, such as anxiety and depression, can be a significant barrier to recovery. The mission of Michigan NeuroSport Social Work is to provide mental health care in a timely manner in order to improve outcomes. Factors leading to anxiety include missing school, social isolation, fear of falling behind and the potential implications of lower academic performance. Michigan NeuroSport Social Work can also serve as a liaison to schools, to aid issues surrounding academic reintegration and developing coping strategies to help deal with these potential issues.
Kristine M. Konz, LMSW is a clinician and psychotherapist at the University of Michigan ambulatory psychiatry clinic. She received her BS in psychology from Eastern Michigan University and completed her MSW at University of Michigan. She has been trained in the evidence based practices of Interpersonal Psychotherapy, Interpersonal Social Rhythm Therapy, Family Focused Therapy, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy and Dialectical Behavioral Therapy. She has a special interest in women’s mental health and bipolar disorder. She has been a trainer in Interpersonal Psychotherapy for both the psychiatric social work interns and psychiatry residency programs for the past 12 years. She was a Field Instructor for 10 years. She is a social work post-grad fellow supervisor. She is also an adjunct lecturer for the University of Michigan School of Social Work.
Michigan NeuroSport Athletic Training
Exercise is a key aspect to recovery of sports-related concussion. Michigan NeuroSport has developed a groundbreaking supervised exertional therapy protocol in which an athletes’ sub-symptom exercise tolerance in determined during the clinic visit. Based on performance during supervised exercise, the athlete can then be prescribed an individually tailored home exercise treatment plan to facilitate recovery. In addition, symptom free supervised exercise is a promising biomarker of recovery of concussion. Michigan NeuroSport Athletic trainers play a key role in administration and interpretation of supervised exercise.
Jeremiah Freeman currently serves as an Athletic Trainer for Michigan Medicine NeuroSport and MedSport. He helps manage the sports concussion clinics and assists with treating those concussion patients with Dr. Andrea Almeida and Dr. Matthew Lorincz. He also manages the orthopaedic surgery clinics overseeing the team that manage clinic visits and post-operative care. Freeman joined the University of Michigan, MedSport staff in 2000. He spent his first 6 years with MedSport serving as an outreach Athletic Trainer, working with the athletic program at Belleville High School. After spending a couple of years as a full time rehabilitation clinician at MedSport, he moved to managing the orthpaedic clinics full time. He began working with NeuroSport in 2016.
Freeman also works with MedSport’s Athletic Training Residency program and Physical Therapy Residency program as a clinical specialist and preceptor. Prior to joining MedSport, he worked as an Assistant Head Athletic Trainer for 2 years with MedHealth in Plymouth, MI. Freeman is native of Camp Verde, AZ. He earned his Bachelor’s Degree in Sports Medicine: Athletic Training from Brigham Young University in 1997. He has been a Certified Athletic Trainer by the National Athletic Trainers’ Association since 1997.
Brooke Ernst graduated in 2014 from Aquinas College with a Bachelor’s of Science degree in Athletic Training. She hired into MedSport August 2015 as an outreach athletic trainer at Skyline High School. She works in the clinic full-time with her time split between NeuroSport and MedSport rehabilitation.