The Center Foundation

Professional Education Conference

Back in Action – A Multidisciplinary Approach to Treating Spine Pain in Adults and Adolescents


BACK IN ACTION 2022 has been postponed until early Fall 2022. Please check back regularly for updates.


Back In Action 2022 is a conference for physical therapists, physical therapy assistants, occupational therapists, chiropractors, athletic trainers  and other healthcare professionals interested in orthopedics, therapeutic rehabilitation and pain management.

Attendees will gain an understanding in non-surgical techniques for managing spine pain from our panel experts in the areas of physiatry, physical therapy, and therapeutic counseling. Topics will include non-surgical management of axial back pain, physical therapy techniques for adolescent scoliosis, as well as a mind-body mindfulness approach for treating patients with chronic back pain.



Saturday, May 21st

Oregon State University – Cascades


8:00 a.m.          Check In and Lite Breakfast   

8:25 a.m.          Welcome

8:30 a.m.          Non-Surgical Approach for Managing Axial Back Pain – Anthony DiGirolamo, DO

9:30 a.m.          A Mind-Body Mindfulness Approach for Treating Patients w/ Chronic Back Pain –  Mary Wells, LCSW

10:30 a.m.       Break  

10:45 a.m.       A Therapeutic Approach to Understanding and Managing Chronic Pain  – Allison Suran, PT, GCFP, TPS

11:45 a.m.       Adolescent Idiopathic Scoliosis: Evaluation, Diagnosis and Treatment  – Justin Roth, DO

12:15 p.m.       Lunch Break

1:15 p.m.         Specific Treatment for Low Back Pain – Samuel Cornell, PT, MSc

2:15 p.m.          Physical Therapy for Adolescent Idiopathic Scoliosis: An Evidence-Based Update – Lisa Flexner PT, DPT

3:15 p.m.         Break

3:30 p.m.         Manual Therapy for Acute and Chronic Spine Pain: An Evidence-Based Review  – Tom Pietrowski, PT  and Nicole Leach, PT, DPT

5:00 p.m.         Conclusion

Learning Objectives

Adolescent Idiopathic Scoliosis: Evaluation, Diagnosis and Treatment – Justin Roth, DO

After participating in this course, attendees will be able to:

  • Recognize the indications and contraindications for surgical treatment of adolescent idiopathic scoliosis
  • Review and understand evaluation techniques for the diagnosis of adolescent idiopathic scoliosis.
  • Summarize the techniques and prospective outcomes for operative treatment of adolescent idiopathic scoliosis.

Physical Therapy for Adolescent Idiopathic Scoliosis: An Evidence-Based Update – Lisa Flexner PT, DPT 

After participating in this course, attendees will be able to:

  • Understand the epidemiology and pathophysiology of adolescent idiopathic scoliosis.
  • Describe the difference between structural and functional curves and how to identify them clinically and with imaging.
  • Discuss recent evidence regarding physical therapy interventions for scoliosis, including traditional physical therapy vs. physiotherapeutic scoliosis exercise management.

Non-Surgical Approach for Managing Axial Back Pain – Anthony DiGirolamo, DO

After participating in this course, attendee will be able to:

  • Identify the pathophysiology, diagnosis and sources of axial back pain.
  • Summarize the techniques and prospective outcomes for non-surgical treatment of axial back pain
  • Consider the most recent and relevant research related to axial back pain.

A Mind-Body Mindfulness Approach for Treating Patients w/ Chronic Back Pain – Mary Wells, LCSW

After participating in this course, attendees will be able to:

  • Learn, understand, and use mindfulness skills for improved outcomes with your patients dealing with persistent back pain.
  • Identify and address barriers to reduced pain and increased functioning such as fear of pain, fear/avoidance patterns and “pushing through”.
  • Understand the role of central sensitization and neuroplastic pain in both structural and non-structural pain.
  • Enhance their “professional use of self” to reduce pain inducing threat signals to the patient through a trauma informed approach. Facial, body, and voice presence that support conscious and unconscious sense of safety in patients with persistent pain will be presented.

A Therapeutic Approach to Understanding and Managing Chronic Pain – Allison Suran, PT, GCFP, TPS

After Participating in this course, attendees will be able to:

  • Understand and review Pain Neuroscience Education and be able to apply its use with patients.
  • Look beyond 3-6 months of pain and understand how to know if your patient has more going on than “just pain”.
  • Explain and apply pacing and graded exposure towards the application of managing chronic pain in patients.
  • Change their perspective on ‘Goal Setting’ for patients with complex chronic pain and the dreaded “M” word: “management”

Specific Treatment For Low Back Pain – Samuel Cornell, MSc PT, OCS, FAAOMPT

After Participating in this course, attendees will be able to:

  • Summarize and understand how to apply a specific approach for treating low back pain.
  • Understand the latest evidence and current case studies of treatment of low back pain
  • Review patho-anatomical considerations for the treatment of low back pain

Manual Therapy for Acute and Chronic Spine Pain: An Evidence-Based Review – Tom Pietrowski, PT and Nicole Leach, PT, DPT

After Participating in this course, attendees will be able to:

  • Examine the balance between manual therapy and exercise in treating both acute and chronic spinal pain.
  • Understand the role of fascia in perpetuating musculoskeletal imbalances and pain.
  • Review the evidence related to the myofascial systems and manual therapy for spinal pain.
  • Learn how to palpate fascial and neural restrictions and lines of tension


Samuel Cornell, MSc PT, OCS, FAAOMPT

Therapeutic Associates Eugene, OR

Sam was born and raised in Ontario, Canada. Prior to calling Eugene home, he lived and worked in Vancouver, British Columbia and Honolulu, Hawaii. An avid sports fan, Samuel grew up playing baseball, soccer, and rugby. He gained his interest in physical therapy while rehabilitating a shoulder injury he sustained playing rugby. After earning his Honours BA in Kinesiology at the Uniiversity of Western Ontario, he went on to complete his Master of Science in Physical Therapy at the University of Toronto.

He is a board-certified Orthopaedic Clinical Specialist and a Fellow of the American Academy of Orthopaedic Manual Physical Therapists. Samuel has been practicing physical therapy since 2010. In addition to clinical care, Sam is a part of the Therapeutic Associates Education department where he mentors residents, fellows in training, and therapist new to TAI. When he’s not at work, Sam can be found hiking, trail running, biking, playing board games or hanging out with the loves of his life: his girlfriend Kristen and his dog Teddy.

Anthony DiGirolamo, DO
The Center for Orthopaedic and Neurosurgical Care and Research

Dr. DiGirolamo specializes in non-surgical management of musculoskeletal and spine injuries and chronic pain conditions. His patient-centered approach to care is focused on helping his patients alleviate suffering and improve function. His unique background and specialized training allows him to effectively treat a wide variety of injuries and conditions, with a special interest in sports medicine, conservative and interventional spine care, work related injuries, regenerative medicine and cancer associated pain.

During his medical school training at Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine, he completed a teaching fellowship in osteopathic manipulative medicine (OMM). Osteopathic medical treatment places an emphasis on treating the patient as a whole person — taking into consideration the impact of disease and injury on their body, mind, and spirit. Dr. DiGirolamo continues to have an interest in OMM, as well as integrating complementary and alternative therapies into the field of physiatry and pain medicine.

Drawn to Central Oregon because of the breathtaking scenery, recreational opportunities, and strong sense of community, Dr. DiGirolamo enjoys exploring the beautiful outdoors with his wife and two children in his spare time.

Lisa Flexner , DPT, PT
OSU Cascades

Dr. Lisa Flexner, PT, is a clinical assistant professor and Director of Clinical Education in the Doctor of Physical Therapy program at OSU-Cascades. She oversees the clinical education curriculum throughout the DPT program and teaches across the curriculum, including coursework on professionalism, communication, psychosocial considerations, and pediatric orthopedics. She previously taught in the undergraduate Kinesiology program at OSU-Cascades. Prior to joining OSU-Cascades, Dr. Flexner was on the teaching team for the University of Washington’s DPT program from 2008-2015, focusing on orthopedics and pediatric sports medicine.

Dr. Flexner received her B.A. in psychology and M.A. in sociology from Stanford University and a Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) degree from University of Washington. She completed her residency and fellowship in Orthopaedics and Manual Therapy from the Ola Grimsby Institute, and is a Fellow in the American Academy of Orthopaedic Manual Physical Therapy. Dr. Flexner is an experienced orthopedic/spine/pain clinician who has worked in private practice and hospital settings in Washington and Oregon. She helped start the non-operative Scoliosis Management program at Seattle Children’s, the first of its kind at a major hospital in the Pacific Northwest. She has been certified through the Schroth Method in scoliosis management since 2013.

Dr. Flexner’s research interests lie in connecting the clinical to the classroom in novel ways, helping students link what they’re learning to the complex human beings they will treat. She advocates for patients, physical therapy, and health care through her work with the American Physical Therapy Association and the Central Oregon Health Council.

Justin Roth, DO
The Center for Orthopaedic and Neurosurgical Care and Research

Dr. Roth’s fellowship training in pediatric orthopedics makes him one of Central Oregon’s only experts in treating children with orthopedic conditions of the hip, foot and ankle, and hand, as well as limb and spinal deformity, sports medicine, and neuromuscular disease management. He recognizes that children’s growing bodies require specialized orthopedic care, whether treating a fracture or a complicated medical condition. Some complex conditions require a higher level of care than what is currently available in Central Oregon. In order to treat these pediatric patients, Dr. Roth has staff privileges at Shriners Hospital for Children in Portland. He enjoys using his extensive knowledge and training to make a difference in people’s lives. Dr. Roth’s background in engineering research and bioengineering gives him a unique perspective when treating patients, as well as the ability to integrate his skillsets for continued clinical research in medical device development, scoliosis, hip preservation, and trauma.

Allison Suran, PT, GCFP, TPS
Healing Bridge Physical Therapy

Allison has spent her career learning about people, movement and pain. After graduating with her physical therapy degree in 1987 she furthered her studies with Cranio-Sacral therapy, Therapeutic Touch, Manual therapy skills and eventually found The Feldenkrais Method®. This 4 year, 800+ hour training became the basis for Allison’s approach to human beings and human movement which incorporates the inseparable body/mind relationship.

Allison has continued to study whatever she could find to help those struggling with chronic pain. In 2016 she completed a 6-month intensive training to become a Certified Therapeutic Pain Specialist. Additionally, she has continued to attend advanced trainings in Feldenkrias, courses to advance her orthopedic skills, Advanced Mindfulness Trainings, Certification in the Sounder Sleep System, Compassionate Communication and she became a Spiritual Director in 2001 in order to understand how to support her clients spiritual beliefs to allow them to deepen their sense of support and surrender to a higher power through the challenges of living with pain. She has also attended numerous pain management conferences.

After starting her private practice, Healing Bridge Physical Therapy, in 1998 she realized that her passion is in supporting people with challenging chronic pain experiences rather than acute and sub-acute orthopedic injuries. Science has since shown that people who experience complex persistent pain have a brain and nervous system that has physiologically changed (through the miracle of neuroplasticity) and continues to create hypersensitivity to many things which exacerbate the pain experience.

Mary Wells, LCSW
Wellness Pain Clinic

Mary Wells, Graduated with her BA from University of California Santa Cruz and California State University at Fresno with her Masters in Clinical Social Work. She has been licensed since 1988.

Mary’s passion is to empower and support those living in pain. In 2013, she created and delivered an intensive, multidisciplinary treatment program for Medicaid patients at The Center, in Bend Oregon, resulting in statistically significant improvements in pain levels and functioning. Later, At Mosaic Medical, a Federally Qualified Health Center with 5 clinics in Central Oregon, she developed “Quality of Life”, a paced and sequenced individual or group program for patients living in pain.

Currently Mary maintains her own business, an outpatient private practice known as Wellness Pain Care.

Mary is honored to share her knowledge and experience with  professionals from multiple disciplines to positively impact outcomes for their patients suffering with persistent pain.  Curiosity and commitment keep her abreast of advancements in the field to continue to improve behavioral treatments for ongoing pain.

Tom Pietrowski, PT
Compass Physical Therapy

Tom has been practicing orthopedic physical therapy for 33 years since graduating from The University of Wisconsin – Madison in 1988. In the first 2 decades following graduation, he immersed himself in learning manual therapy techniques at a time when physical therapy was borrowing heavily from the osteopathic schools. This helped him build a large repertoire of skills to draw upon with his clients. He held his OCS certification for 20 years.

Over the years, Tom has synthesized a number of his most effective techniques including Myofascial Release, Visceral Manipulation, Craniosacral Therapy and breathwork. By coupling his blended approach with strengthening and stabilization, he has helped countless patients, many who have seen multiple providers over multiple disciplines.

At Compass Physical Therapy, which Tom founded in 2011, he and his staff treat a large volume of acute and complex spinal conditions. Recognizing that the connection between physical pain and stress, trauma and beliefs often block rehab success, his team focuses on creating a safe therapist-client relationship to allow for healing.

Tom is active in the Central Oregon outdoor playground, often mountain biking, Nordic skiing, hiking and, his passion, curling. He considers his biggest achievement bringing curling to Bend.

Nicole Leach, PT, DPT
Compass Physical Therapy

Nicki has been practicing physical therapy for 6 years since graduating with a Doctorate in Physical Therapy from Saint Francis University in Pennsylvania. She is a research enthusiast as well as avid educator and assisted in multiple cadaveric dissections and graduate level courses throughout her schooling. She is passionate about human movement and recognizes the foundational importance of using soft tissue mobilization and manual therapy techniques to assist in the restoration of sustainable healthy movement patterns.

At Compass Physical Therapy in Bend, along with her colleagues, Nicki delights in diagnosing and treating complex orthopedic conditions that are often chronic in nature. By employing evidence based manual techniques and motor control exercises she strives to help her clients get back to enjoying their active lifestyles.

In her free time, Nicki can be found enjoying many of the wonders of Central Oregon from the mountains to the lakes to the high desert wilderness. She enjoys participating in recreational running, yoga, and volleyball among many other hobbies.


OSU Cascades Ray Hall

1500 SW Chandler Ave

Bend, OR 97702

CEU Credit Information

7 Category A Continuing Education Units available to attendees.

This program has been planned and implemented in accordance with the requirements and policies of the Board of Certification for the Athletic Trainer (BOC). The Center Foundation is approved by the BOC to provide continuing education for athletic trainers.




$300 for In-Person Option (7 CEU)

  • Includes lunch, practical hands on lab session, and networking opportunities with other attendees.

$200 for Zoom Option (7 CEU)

Early registration and group discounts may apply. Contact us to join our mailing list for discounts and updates!



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Cancellation Policy

Cancellations with full refund available until April 15, 2022.
Cancellations with 50% refund available April 15 to April 30, 2022.
No refund after May 1, 2022.
*Illness or death in the immediate family are mitigating circumstances considered for refunds with a written request received no later than 10 days after the end of the conference.
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