PT alums help prevent injuries among local athletes

Amy Johnson '97 works with a patient at Rock Valley Physical Therapy in Peoria.

February 23, 2011

Sports injuries among young athletes have become a major problem in recent years, and two Bradley physical therapy alumni are going out into the community to help stop it.

Amy Johnson ’97 and Luke Acklie ’99 are physical therapists at Rock Valley Physical Therapy in Peoria. After studying and working together for years at Bradley and at Great Plains Orthopedics, the two decided to open up a Peoria branch of Rock Valley in the hopes of having more time to make an impact in their community.

Both Johnson and Acklie came to Bradley for its excellent physical therapy program after experiencing difficult injuries as high school athletes. They were both involved in various groups on campus, including the physical therapy club and intramural sports. They each called Physical Therapy and Health Science Chair Dr. Steven Tippet an “inspiration,” saying he “ignited [our] passion for orthopedics.”

Since they live and work in the area, Acklie and Johnson remain very involved with Bradley. Recently, they performed screenings for the women’s basketball and volleyball teams.

“Every opportunity we have, we give back to Bradley,” Johnson said.

Although both enjoy the hands-on work they performed with patients at Great Plains and continue to perform at Rock Valley, their new practice allows them greater exposure to local athletes. Starting fresh and raising awareness of their new office was difficult at first, but they’re now enjoying greater freedom to engage with the community. Recent trends in youth injuries have led to a particular emphasis on teaching local teams and coaches on how to prepare young bodies for athletic activity.

Improper training, lack of variety, and insufficient rest have all contributed to the upswing in youth injuries. Acklie and Johnson stress the importance of injury prevention, so they work with schools, youth programs, and national organizations like Sports Trauma and Overuse Prevention (STOP) to teach players and coaches about proper conditioning. They also perform injury screenings for the athletes.

“Medicine in general is moving toward prevention, and therapists should be on the front lines of that,” Acklie said.