Physical Therapy

Physical therapy helps consumers (AKA clients, patients) improve in the areas of gross motor skills. Physical therapists (PTs) look at whether a person is functioning at age-appropriate level in physical skills such as mobility, coordination, and strength and then determine interventions to help address areas of concern. Physical therapists and physical therapy assistants (PTAs) then implement these interventions.

For example, a PT may use therapy ball activities to strengthen a person’s core muscles so that they then can roll or maintain their balance when sitting or riding a bike. PTs help determine and obtain needed assistive technology devices, such as a walker or stander, and teach consumers and caregivers how to use them.

How can physical therapy help?

Physical therapy helps people improve their gross motor skills through mobility, coordination, and strengthening activities.


ABBEY BETLACHPhysical Therapist, (PT, DPT)


  • Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT), A.T. Still University, Mesa, AZ, August 2013
  • B.A. in Health Promotion and Exercise Science, University of Iowa, Iowa City, IA, May 2009

Specific Treatment Strategies, Equipment, or Expertise Utilized:

  • Telehealth
  • Aquatic Therapy (when pool is open for use)
  • Neurodevelopmental treatment strategies
  • Lite Gait harness system for weightbearing and gait training
  • Easystand sit to stand system for weightbearing and standing
  • Bal-a-vis-x treatment for visual tracking, hand-eye coordination, and brain/body integration
  • Exergaming systems (Xbox Kinect and Wii)

Career History:

I started at Lauren’s Institute For Education in August 2013 as a physical therapist. I have been at L.I.F.E. for 6 years as a full-time treating physical therapist. I took on the role of supervising a physical therapy assistant in June 2018. For the past 4 years, I have served as a clinical instructor and mentored physical therapy students completing a clinical rotation at L.I.F.E. I also have experience in several different settings, which include outpatient orthopedics, school-based, acute care hospital, and home health.


I grew up in Iowa and graduated from the University of Iowa. I am a huge fan of the Hawkeyes and their football team. I moved to Arizona in 2010 for graduate school, and I decided to make this state my home after graduation. In my free time, I enjoy playing soccer, running long distances, reading books, watching football and soccer, and spending time with my family, friends, and two dogs (both boxers).

TAMMY GROENWALDPhysical Therapist, (PT, DPT)


  • Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT), University of Illinois at Chicago, Chicago, IL, May 2005-Class President and recipient of Who’s Who Among American Colleges and Universities Recognition award in May 2005
  • B.A. in Psychology, University of Illinois at Chicago, Chicago, IL, May 2002

Special Certifications:

  • Credentialed clinical instructor for PT and PTA students completing their school clinical affiliations at L.I.F.E.
  • Certification received for Pilates Matwork Fundamental Instruction, SCW Fitness, Fall 2003

Specific Treatment Strategies, Equipment, or Expertise Utilized:

  • Neurodevelopmental Treatment (NDT) especially for clients with cerebral palsy
  • Gait training with Lite Gait device and RT 300 Functional Electrical Stimulation (FES) Cycling Systems
  • Aquatic therapy (when L.I.F.E. pool is open for use)
  • Chronologically Controlled Developmental Therapy
  • Yoga and Pilates for the Special Needs Child
  • Kinesiotaping
  • Orthotics management including SMOs, AFOs, and Bioness

Career History:

I joined the L.I.F.E. family in August 2008 and transitioned into the lead physical therapist role from March 2013-2016. In addition to L.I.F.E., I worked part-time at Phoenix Children’s Hospital (PCH) Outpatient Rehabilitation from 2012-2017 where I have expanded my knowledge working with children diagnosed with cancer, orthopedic injuries, and infants following their stay at PCH’s neonatal intensive care unit. My work experience also includes geriatrics, adult orthopedics, and emergency room physical therapy at Gilbert Hospital.

As much as I love working with my clients, I also have a passion for educating students and parents in the community on topics related to the physical therapy profession. I have guest lectured at the PT program at Northern Arizona University and the PTA programs at Carrington College and Gateway College regarding the topic of “Ethics in Physical Therapy Practice.” I currently guest lecture annually to the staff at Life Christian Preschool and Childcare (Chandler, AZ), as well as tri-annually to the moms receiving services at the Pregnancy Care Center of Chandler regarding the topic of “Typical Gross Motor Development from Infancy to Age 6” since 2017.

In addition, I am part of L.I.F.E.’s orientation team and train new employees bi-monthly on “Developmental Disabilities” and “Saft Lifting and Transfers.”

Personal Treatment Philosophy:

I always aim to put the “FUN” in “FUNCTIONAL” in all my treatment sessions.


I grew up in Skokie, Illinois and moved to Chandler, Arizona in June 2005 after marrying Mike Groenwald, an aerospace engineer at Northrop Grumman. We have 4 kids: Nathan, Matthew, Samantha, and Angela, who keep me very busy outside of work. In my free time I enjoy cheering on my kids at their sporting events, scrapbooking, or watching any TV show related to The Bachelor/The Bachelorette franchise. I also have been a member of the Basileia Christian Dance Company, based in Chandler, since 2011.

RICHARD ELICIOTherapy Manager, (PT, DPT)
  • Here at L.I.F.E. I have the opportunity to guide the therapy team. My focus is to make sure that the therapists can provide the very best services to our consumers. That includes working closely with therapists for training and instruction. It also goes beyond that to collaboration with other individuals on our campus such as back office/administrative staff, Academy staff, and Behavioral Support staff. It also extends to collaboration with representatives from the Department of Developmental Disabilities (DDD), and parents.
  • Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT), A.T. Still University, Mesa, AZ, 2013
  • B.S. Elementary Education, Northern Arizona University, 2008
Continuing Education and Certifications:
  • Myofascial Release clinical application workshops, John F. Barnes PT o Pediatric Myofascial Release I, II, III
  • Water-Based Interventions for the Pediatric Therapist, Kiki Dickson MPT, PAqI
  • Out-of-Sync Child: Sensory Challenges and Sensible Solutions, Carol Kranowitz
  • Social Thinking Across the Home and School Day: The ILAUGH Model, Ryan Hendrix, MS, CCC-SLP
  • Prevent and Support trained through DDD, Chris Garcia
Specific Treatment Strategies, Equipment, or Expertise Utilized:
  • Myofascial Release for range of motion, deep pressure (sensory)
  • Use of LiteGait system for gait training
  • Aquatic Therapy
Career History:
  • I currently serve as the Therapy Manager here at L.I.F.E. since August of 2018. I started my career in Physical Therapy here at L.I.F.E. in August of 2013 as a treating therapist. I provided skilled physical therapy interventions for a diverse group of individuals. I have experience working in the hospital setting, outpatient orthopedics, and school settings prior to coming to L.I.F.E.
Personal Treatment Philosophy:
  • I believe in treating the whole child. The entire team has valuable ideas that I can implement into my treatment to target as many areas of function as possible. I also believe that therapy should be fun. Work yes, but also fun.
  • I am one of the few Arizona natives. I grew up a few hours down the road in the Gila Valley. I grew up participating in sports including basketball, football and track in Jr High and High School. I am married to Chelsey Curtis, also from the Gila Valley. We moved here for me to attend PT school and have been here ever since. We have 8 kids. Yes, 8! Tucker (13), Hayden (12), Camilla (10), Carmen (8), Cora (5), Reed (3), Matthew (2) and Jeffrey (7months). The kids keep us busy with sports, choir performances, band concerts, strings performances and drama productions. In my free time I enjoy carpentry work and home remodel projects.
NOEL McCLUNEYDirector of Clinical Programming, (PT, DPT, PCS, AT Specialist)
  • I serve a unique position at L.I.F.E. I assist in new program development and implementation within and across departments. I serve as a supervisor to Academy Resource Team members and I provide consultative support in the areas of assistive technology and physical therapy. I also manage the website and serve on the L.I.F.E. Leadership team. I truly love helping with any program or project someone wants to bring to L.I.F.E and learning new things along the way!
  • Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT), A.T. Still University, Mesa, AZ, August 2006
  • APTA Board-Certified Pediatric Specialist (PCS) May 2011
  • B.S. in Exercise Science, Summa Cum Laude, Florida State University, Tallahassee, FL, May 2003
  • Assistive Technology Certificate Graduate Program, Bowling Green State University, Bowling Green, OH, January 2015- August 2016
Special Certifications:
  • American Council on Exercise Youth Fitness Specialist 8/16
  • 200hr Level Certified Yoga Teacher, Southwest Institute of Healing Arts, 5/08
  • American Council on Exercise Group Fitness Instructor, 8/00
Specific Treatment Strategies, Equipment, or Expertise:
  • Assistive Technology Services especially in the area of mobility, seating, and positioning but I have foundational knowledge in other areas
  • Mindful movement (yoga) positions, breathing, games
  • Neurodevelopmental Treatment (NDT) especially for kids with cerebral palsy and with gait training
  • Partial weight bearing gait training with Lite Gait device
  • Exergaming Devices (Wii, Xbox Kinect)
  • Hippotherapy
  • Aquatic therapy
Career History:
  • I began at L.I.F.E. as the Director of Clinical Programming in September of 2018. I previously worked at L.I.F.E. when it first opened in 2007-10 and then again 2011-13 and then again in 2017 as a staff physical therapist. Although my husband’s career has required us to move frequently, I have always found my way back to L.I.F.E.. I feel so incredibly lucky to be a part of this amazing organization. In addition to L.I.F.E., I have worked in a number of other settings and gained valuable skills and experience. I have worked at two intermediate care facilities (ICFs) for children and adults with medically complex developmental disabilities, and at a specialized school for children with medical complexity in NC. At these facilities, I gained a lot of experience working with wheelchairs, standers, and other AT devices. I have also provided school therapy in OH and home-based therapy in CO and NC.
Personal Management Philosophy:
  • My experience working at many other organizations made me realize how special L.I.F.E. is. Many other organizations don’t really care about their employees. One feels like a number and bringing concerns to a supervisor rarely results in any action or change. That was never how I felt when I worked at L.I.F.E. and now that I am in a management role, I want to ensure no one ever feels that way. I do my absolute best to listen to people’s concerns, try to understand them, and try to address the concerns to the best of my ability. I also believe that policies/procedures/programs are generally better when created jointly with those they will affect. I do my best to gather ideas and feedback prior to implementation of something new. But really most important of all to me is helping people feel like they have a “work family.” At L.I.F.E. we work together for the common good of the “family” and we have great fun and make great memories along the way. To me that is really what life and L.I.F.E is all about.
  • I grew up in Indialantic Florida. I am married to an Ecology professor at Bowling Green State University. We have lived in multiple states for my husband’s career including AZ, CO, NC and OH. We have two children, Desmond (9) and Malcolm (5). My hobbies and interests include yoga, American Ninja Warrior, and sci-fi and Jane Austen style books and movies. We currently live in Ohio but I travel to L.I.F.E. monthly and work remotely from OH when off-site.
ALEX HARRISPhysical Therapist Assistant, (PTA)


  • AAS-PTA, Butler County Community College, 05/14

Specific Treatment Strategies, Equipment, or Expertise Utilized:

  • Telehealth
  • Aquatic Therapy
  • Lite Gait System
  • Bike Riding
  • Sport Skills (to including throwing/catching, kicking a ball, running/jumping,basketball and soccer skills)
  • Exergamming System (x-box Kinnect, Wii)
  • Functional strength and balance including stair and curb navigation
  • Yoga treatment Interventions
  • Kinesiotaping for the Pediatric Population

Career History:

I began working at L.I.F.E. in June of 2018. Previously, I have worked in several other pediatric facilities, including an outpatient clinic in the greater Phoenix area and a center for children with autism in central Indiana. I also have previous experience in a clinic specializing in injuries of the spine, Skilled Nursing Facilities (SNF), as well as with amputee clients in the VA hospital system of Western Pennsylvania. I have had the opportunity to work with clients with balance deficits, as well as clients with autism extensively in my previous employments. I also have attended continuing education courses for Infant positioning and handling, Torticollis Treatment Interventions, Kinesiotaping, orthotic management and assessment, and seating/mobility.


I grew up in the Midwest, and lived in several different places in Indiana, as well as Pennsylvania. I truly love the Pittsburgh Penguins and Pirates, and will always be a Peyton Manning fan! I knew from the start of my schooling that I wanted to work with children, and I have loved seeing my clients make progress throughout my years in the field! I am involved in several different ways with children besides work, including trips overseas as well as regular volunteering at my church. I enjoy traveling to new places, hiking, reading, and spending time with friends and family.

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