In this episode, President and CEO of Sports and Spine Physical Therapy, Inc., Leon Anderson III, PT, MOMT, talks about AAPT.

Today, Leon talks about the history of AAPT, working with his father, and AAPT’s networking opportunities.

Hear about AAPT’s mission, encouraging minority students, and clinical research related to health conditions found within minority communities, all on today’s episode of The Healthy, Wealthy & Smart Podcast.


Key Takeaways

  • “We are still less than 3% of the profession.”
  • “If you can expose a child and broaden their horizons, it gives them more options of what they can do and what they can be when they’re older.”
  • “Just being associated with this network affords you such a wide array of opportunities and possibilities.”
  • “We’re all connected, and we all need one another at some point.”
  • “You won’t know what hits you until it hits you.”


More about Leon Anderson

headshot Leon AndersonLeon R. Anderson III, is a native of Cleveland, Ohio. He graduated from The Ohio State University Fisher School of Business with a Bachelor of Science degree in Management Information Systems. His first job was as a Systems Analyst/Summer Intern for his fathers company Centers for Rehabilitation, Inc. There he discovered a passion for patient care. Subsequently, he pursued a degree in Physical Therapy at the University of Connecticut. After graduating, Leon was selected for a two year manual therapy residency program earning a masters degree in Orthopedic Manual Therapy from the Ola Grimsby Institute.

Leon is president and CEO of Sports and Spine Physical Therapy, Inc. (SSPT) The company operates three clinics in the greater Cleveland area and one in Charlotte, NC. Leon was inspired by his pioneering father Leon Anderson Jr. who was considered a vanguard of the profession for over 40 years. SSPT’s company culture and core values of providing high quality rehabilitation services are a direct result of Leon’s life long tutelage by his father.

Leon is a charter member of the American Academy of Physical Therapy. He served as a Subject Matter Expert for the American Physical Therapy Association’s Orthopedic Clinical Specialist Exam. He also served as an on-site reviewer of the Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education. (The accreditation agency for entry-level physical therapist and physical therapist assistant programs in the US and UK).


Suggested Keywords

Healthy, Wealthy, Smart, AAPT, Healthcare, Impact, Research, Opportunities, Mentorship, Equality, Connections, Education,


To learn more, follow Leon at:


Twitter:            @LA3OSUCONN

Instagram:       @osuconn


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Read the Full Transcript Here:

Welcome to the healthy, wealthy and smart podcast. Each week we interview the best and brightest in physical therapy, wellness and entrepreneurship. We give you cutting edge information you need to live your best life healthy, wealthy and smart. The information in this podcast is for entertainment purposes only and should not be used as personalized medical advice. And now, here’s your host, Dr. Karen Litzy.



Hey everybody, welcome back to the podcast. I am your host Karen Litzy. And today’s episode is brought to you by Net Health. So when it comes to boosting your clinics, online visibility, reputation and referrals, Net Health Digital Marketing Solutions has the tools you need to beat the competition. They know you want your clinic to get found chosen and get those five star reviews. Right now if you sign up and complete a marketing audit to learn how digital marketing solutions can help your clinic whim. They will buy lunch for your office. If you’re already using Net Health private practice EMR, be sure to ask about its new integration, head over to net forward slash Li TZY to sign up for your complimentary marketing audit today. Now on to today’s episode Dr. Jenna cantor. Cantor is back and being the host with the most for this episode. And we are happy to welcome Leon Anderson the third he is a native of Cleveland, Ohio. He graduated from The Ohio State University’s Fisher School of Business with a Bachelor of Science degree in Management Information Systems. His first job was a systems analyst summer intern for his father’s company centers for rehabilitation. There he discovered a passion for patient care. Subsequently, he pursued a degree in physical therapy at the University of Connecticut. After graduating, he was selected for a two year manual therapy residency program earning a master’s degree in orthopedic manual therapy from the OLA Grimsby Institute. Leon is President and CEO of sports and spine physical therapy. The company operates three clinics in the Greater Cleveland area and one in Charlotte, North Carolina. He was inspired by his pioneering father, Leon Anderson Jr, who was considered a vanguard of the profession for over 40 years. SSP tees company, culture and core values of providing high quality rehabilitation services are a direct result of Leon’s lifelong tutelage by his father. He is a charter member of the American Academy of physical therapy. He serves as a subject matter expert for the American Physical Therapy Association’s orthopedic clinical specialists specialist exam. He also serves as an onsite reviewer of the Commission on Accreditation, physical therapy, education. So today, they talk about a PT so the history of AAPT networking opportunities and how that branch of our profession that organization within our profession profession came about so big thank you to Leon and Jenna and everyone enjoyed today’s episode.



Hello, Jenna Cantor here with healthy, wealthy and smart I am super excited and honored to be here with the Leon Anderson, who is a major leader in the physical therapy community. He is the president and CEO of sports and spine physical therapy and is also a charter member of AAA, PT, the American Academy of physical therapy. Thank you so much for agreeing to come on Leon.



Welcome. It’s good to be here. Thank you, Jennifer offering this opportunity.



Oh my gosh, I’ve just And it’s funny, right people, we still we came on, I learned that you were just in Barbados, and you have a bunch of patients there and you were vacationing, that’s incredible, you are living a life. There’s so many opportunities and you’re living that right now. I love it.



Absolutely. There are opportunities all across the world when it comes to physiotherapy. It’s known as physiotherapy in most parts of the world, and physical therapy here in the United States. But just in the islands, you know, there’s just a huge huge opportunity to bring the kinds of things that we do here to that particular population, because of the all the different technologies and nuances and things that we have, you know, that we have here. So, I was in addition to enjoying the beach in the sand, I was also enjoying given our advice on how to become a more functional individual, and whatever Island or whatever society or community that you live in.



I love that. Thank you. Thank you for your service series. That’s incredible. I love that. I wanted to bring you on today to actually talk about a PT specifically talk about the history how it became to be in everything So I would love to just start with your perspective specifically, and how it came into your life.



Well, I grew up with, you can say occupational inheritance. My father was the 16th person in Ohio to be licensed as a physical therapist. He was a vanguard in our profession. He held many, many, I guess positions, if you would say, locally, nationally, even internationally, he was one of the first African Americans to be on the board of directors for the AAPT. In fact, there is a, a room at our headquarters in Alexandria. That is the Black Heritage Room, and it’s named after my father and one of his protegees, who’s also my mentor, the late Dr. Linda Woodruff, who was just an amazing, amazing mentor, and my father, Leon Anderson, Jr. and since I’m the third, but if you rewind back to when he got started, a PT that started mainly the the PTS of color that were involved in the APTA just didn’t feel that their needs were being met, you know, as it relates to our communities. And so there are a couple of different little groups, like blacks interested in physical therapy or charm, I can’t remember right now exactly what the term acronym is, maybe I’ll think about that. But there are different groups that they would meet at the eight PTA annual conferences. And at some point, I think it was 1989. It was at 1989. In September, in Chicago, about 90 individuals met and I was actually a student, myself, and also donna, donna, it was not a fun doll, then. Now it was done in green Howard, that we were both students at the time. And now these individuals got together and they decided they wanted to do something that was going to be specific for the African American community and meet the needs of those communities that are disadvantaged and poor. And so that’s where, you know, it was born out of and we have so many, I mean, just a plethora of talented African American PTS, in academia, in private practice, in the hospital setting, and, you know, in the military, just in all of the different different settings, and very accomplished, very accomplished ones also, I mean, it’s just amazing. The BB Clemens, the, I mean, the mayor McLeod’s, the Robert Babs, there’s just so many that so many people who, who contributed so much to this organization early on, and we’ve done just many, many, many things to help students and then help our community. So that’s, you know, in I hate the Babylon, but that is a kind of how we were born born out of a need, that needs weren’t being met by the large the large organization, the APTA.



Oh, my gosh, this is a nerdy question. Okay. The meeting was in Chicago, was it over pizza? You know,



believe it or not see. So once again, we have such an accomplished set of founders. It was at like a, a Hilton, or a Sheraton, a Sheraton Hotel, where we all met. And, you know, they used Robert’s Rules of orders, it was extremely, extremely organized. But remember, for years prior, there were these little interest groups that would meet over pizza and over coffee and over tea and you know, different things for many years, at the different organizational meetings, whether it be the annual meeting, or the combined section, or what have you. So at that meeting, we actually they actually established, you know, a skeleton of what our current bylaws are for the AAPT right now, so it was a very, very, very industrial meeting. And productive meeting over that weekend back in September 1989.



Wow, that is so cool. I love it. It really was from the ground up. It just organically. It happened so organically. And it was a major need and it just grew. I love that. That is so cool. And your legacy. Oh, you probably carry it. That was so much pride. I love that for you with getting involved. So your dad’s involved. Did you feel pressure at the beginning? Like how did that happen? Because your dad is just so prestigious? And is it doing so many things for the profession? How was that for you?



Well, believe it or not, my first degree is actually in computer science at a computer science degree from The Ohio State University. And what I found was that by my junior year I was doing some statistics statistical analysis where my father during the summertime didn’t do my summer off. And I was at a, a facility for the mentally and physically challenged. And while I was, you know, doing fixing the computers and trying to network computers and things, I also was a transportation aide. And I will transfer the patients from their cottages, to the main Physical Therapy Center. And I found that I fell in love with patient care. Although I’m the nerdy, mathematical computer guy and logical guy in my head, I found it to be extremely satisfaction, I found a lot of satisfaction, I should say, in interacting with these patients. And that’s why I fell in love with this therapy, my junior year when I was at Ohio State. So I decided I wasn’t going to just throw those three years away, I went ahead and finished out my, my, my career there ha state. And luckily, because my parents said they were not going to pay for a second education, I had to do it on my own. Luckily, I got a scholarship and academic and leadership scholarship because I went to our house State, I was on a board of this organization, students together against apartheid. And I was a peer counselor, I won the black leadership award my senior year. So with those along with my GPA, I was eligible for a scholarship. And I ended up at University of Connecticut, you know, on scholarship, so that worked out great, I wouldn’t say that I felt pressure, it’s my father just wanted to always want me to do whatever I was I was good at and, and to be happy, and to whatever I did wanted me to be the best at what I did, and to strive for excellence. But once again, I fell in love with patient care that that that summer 19, I think was 1985. And I really haven’t looked back,



I want to get into the mission statement of a PT, I’m going to read them in sections because so that way it can be discussed each part in more depth, although I think it’s quite, quite easy to interpret. So the mission statement is the American Academy of physical therapy is a non not for profit organization whose mission is to provide relief to poor and disadvantaged African Americans and other minorities by and let’s talk about this first one, promoting a new innovative programs in health promotion, health delivery systems and disease prevention. Would you mind just talking more on the importance of that?



Well, we just have so many different talented individuals who are in all these different aspects, whether it be neuro, whether it be neurotherapy, whether it be sports and mettam, sports, med Med, whether it be dealing with childhood, obesity, bottom line is, I think it was back in 2010 with the Department of Human Services, Office of Minority Health and Health Disparities disparities came out with all of their initiatives, and we partnered with them. And I think it was probably 20 or $30,000. Grant, but I’m not sure right now. But But the bottom line is, is we partnered with them, because we wanted to really make an impact in our community, as relates to the health care disparities. So whether it’s talking about diabetes are having different hypertension, and different organizational would you call them community health fairs, or programs, we even had a program with the Patterson cow foundation that they supported for childhood obesity. Our goal is for our individual members in their communities to make an impact and partner with the organization at large and use us, you know, to help them make the impact in our community using our resources. And our net network.



Yeah, yeah. It’s funny as talking right now, everything you’re saying is great. My husband’s musical theater and he’s singing full out right now. So I just want to acknowledge it is what it is love him. And you know what life is a musical? Isn’t that great? Next, encouraging minority students to pursue careers in allied health professions. Oh, can you talk about the need there?



And on that note, we’ll take a quick break to hear from our sponsor and be right back. When it comes to boosting your clinics, online visibility, reputation and increasing referrals, net Health’s digital marketing solutions have the tools you need to beat the competition. They know you want your clinic to get found, get chosen and definitely get those five star reviews on Google. Net Health is a fun new offer. If you sign up and complete a marketing audit to learn how digital marketing solutions can help your clinic win. They will buy lunch for your office. If you’re already using Net Health private practice EMR, be sure to ask about his new integration. Head over to net forward slash Li TZY to sign up for your complimentary marketing audit.



Also keeps me there, I think that we are still less than 3% of the profession. And the goal is to really expose the minority students to the profession as early as we can. So whether that means are different individuals, whether we’re at one of our conferences, when we do some of the community outreach, or just someone in their own community, that’s exposing individuals by going to health fairs going to speak at the local professional, and career career days, we’ve had so many opportunities. In fact, my wife and I, in conjunction with the American Academy of physical therapy, we ran a program called Let’s Talk About program that did just that it really expose the kids to different professions until to improving their life skills and to becoming excellent and just empowering them to awaken the genius within them. And once again, that was one of those organizations that partnered with the APTA and use the 501 C three, until we got our own 501 C three, but then continue to partner with them. Because the goal is, if you can expose a child and broaden their horizons, it just gives them more options, on what they what they can do and what they can be when they get older. And it makes it makes perfect sense that if you can see yourself doing something, then or someone like you doing something, it increases the possibility that you have in your own mind that you can actually do it yourself. So when you look at Barack Obama, you have you have no idea how many, you know, kids right now can think to themselves that wow, Brock Obama was president I can be president or rob Tillman, or Leon Anderson, is, you know, high in an organization, doing things to help our community, I can do that same thing, I can make that particular impact. We’ve also had



visual affirmations, literally, yes,



we absolutely. We’ve also had many educational opportunities to help with our students. And just making sure that once you get into PT school, that you pass the exams, we used to hold many of the exam prep courts of the exam, prep organizations and courses around the country.



That’s great. Yeah, it’s all there’s so much opportunity in this. It’s a big one. It’s a big one. And no, this speaks to any, any, anybody would like who is black, or in a minority, this speaks to you right away. Absolutely. And if you are wondering apps, yes, definitely reach out to AAPT. This is, this is part of their mission. Next, and finally is performing clinical research directly related to health conditions found within minority communities.



Same thing as as before, we encourage our, our members, and our constituents and our stakeholders, to engage with the professional organizations and do their poster research. And, you know, to really see, you know, what it is that our community needs, because most of the research that’s done is just is or has been done historically, has been on the typical, you know, American, which may be a five, seven, you know, 40 year old white male. So the key is, we really want to make sure that we get data that lets us know, you know, what is the optimal amount of vitamin D, for a African American and living in the, you know, the Bible Belt, you know, that has this particular type of, of exercise level. There, this particular type of diet, you know, so, over the years, we’ve had many of those posters and the different organizations, annual conferences, and also in Chicago, Diane Adams, Saulsbury. And Vinod Rosebery, who’s who’s actually mayor now, they, in conjunction with the AAPT had a phenomenal he was a kid’s fitness health club at an actual health club, and they were able to, to glean data on the health of our community, as relates to our kids and how they interact with an actual exercise routine. And a, a place to go that’s safe, and also informative, and getting them to where they need to be. It was just it was just phenomenal. It was it was a phenomenal organization, and a phenomenal, healthy place to go.



I’m so grateful you have this research as part of your mission. I teach people how to treat dancers PTS PTAs. And we had a group discussion, one I, where we, we I pulled research and tried to find research on dancers, black dancers might be, where’s that research black female dancers. And there was, there was one and it had clear bias. But it did show a little bit that there needed to be a lot more investigation. And, and then it just it was like crickets, it was crickets, when I was searching on PubMed, trying to find studies, specifically on minority bodies with that purpose for comparative data. And we didn’t have in the little time I did to gather, we started talking about vitamin D, like you just mentioned, not from me knowing to bring it up. But from another black physical therapist in the room and other other black PCs in the room. Honestly, that became a topic. And it wasn’t from research, it was was just from personal experience is and it’s just, yeah, we need we need this information to do better for humans. so badly.



It’s funny that you say that, Jenny, because one of my protegees it’s interesting, because in when you talk about the academy, one of the one of the things that I think we’re really, really famous for is it’s an it’s an N. It’s been unofficial for many, many years. But we have a navigation program that helps not only students get into the profession, and get into school and stay in school, and then in addition to that, pass the exam, once you get into the to the profession, and how do you even navigate the profession. So when you mentioned the dancers, I immediately thought of one of my previous employer, employees and that one of my previous students, her name is Shane, I know I’m messing up her last name. And I think she’s married now. So I’m really messing up her maiden name, but it’s ojo, Fatima, I believe anyway, she is the she is definitely the TCS, the top physical therapist with the L Navy dance troupe. I think she might even be the medical director right now, I’m not going to be sure about about it. She’s actually the medical director, I know that they really lean on her big, big time. But she’s somebody who, you know, absolutely should be should be out front, not only giving you the information that you might need for your Google, you know, search. But once again, she’s there to let that young girl or guy, you know, who’s interested in dance, know that, you know, not only not only can you be involved in the performance arts as a dancer, but also as a medical or healthcare professional, or navigation program. So I think that she was a patient of I mean, a student of mine, at least 12 years ago, but our communication has never waned. We even talked as recently as last month, about her career, where careers going in and also getting other younger physical therapists and other parts of the country hooked up with her because as when they travel, they need to use local services, local physical therapy services, and whether that means, you know, a practice that they can come into while they’re in that city or if there is a opportunity for an intern in a particular city where they are to come and spend some time with him. So our navigation program is so wide and it’s so varied. When you look at just my career alone. I had my father I had Dr. Linda Woodruff. I had Rob Tillman. I had Robert Babs, I had at least 10 or 15, close mentors, role models, advisors, who could help me navigate where it is that I wanted to be, whether it’s whether we’re on Capitol Hill, doing some lobbying for physical therapy codes, whether I’m dealing with Ohio State University and their football team, or, or whether we’re talking about trying to have a Howard University accredited exam. I remember I met with the president of Howard University because I was on the commission for accreditation for physical therapy, education. And I was there for an accredited accrediting visit. And now one of the people who’s come in under our navigation, Vanessa LeBlanc, she is now a captive reviewer. So the reach is so wide and so long, that, you know, just being being associated with this network affords you such a wide array of opportunities and possibilities.



Absolutely. I’m just more than this navigation program. People might be perked up going, what is this? What is this? So I’m going to use some outsider terms on this. So yes, this is a mentorship program, but it’s different. And it’s really about when you connect with AAPT in court I’m where I’m mixing it up or saying it wrong. So when you connect with AAPT, anyone to a PT is they have a very large network of people with different expertise and you get forwarded to the right person. It’s not just within the, the heads of the organization, because, I mean, everybody’s doing this volunteer why so not? They can’t, they can’t, I’ll take on everyone. But then from there, you go to this huge web, imagine like, Charlotte’s beautimous beautiful web that’s extremely expanded and connects you to all the multiple people that would advise you and take you through your journey to really accomplish a lot. It’s very cool. And, and, and naturally expanding like you just said, with your your student, how you’re now connecting her with students, you know, or people who could use her help. I think it’s very, very cool thing that AAPT has going on. Did I explain that correctly?



I think so. I think he did a good a good summary job. Because it’s not a instone program, what it is is right, right, exactly the way the way you the way you explained it was very, very, very good.



Yes, score. This AAPT has, has been around since 1989, as Leon was saying, and is an organization either, too, if you want to get involved, please reach out to them. Volunteers are always welcomed, there’s plenty of opportunity, as you can hear from the mission statement. And, yeah, anything else you want to add on AAPT? A topic that I have potentially looked over because this is a big organ, this organization is a big deal. And I don’t want to miss anything?



Well, no, I think you hit on the major things, I will say go to the website, if you have questions, then, you know, go ahead and submit them through the through the website. It’s just a, an organization that I think is just very much relevant and needed to make sure that our community continues to be relevant, and get what get what it needs. That to keep us moving forward and moving in the right direction, because we’re all connected. And we all need one another at some point, you never know when you’re going to need need someone I remember, there was a member that was I would say he would come to the or to the meetings maybe every other year or something like that. I’ll leave him nameless. But when he came, and he was actually being attacked by the State Board for a reason, that was not necessarily his fault. But because we had so many members that were involved in academia and also involved in the state boards that were able to help them out. But once again, you don’t know what you need a lot of times until you need it. So just be involved, I would say it’d be involved in your, in all the associations that you can get that are professional associations, because you can glean information from from from everyone. Just because you’re a member of AAPT doesn’t mean you should not be a member of a PTA or any other healthcare or allied health organization that you think you’re a possible stakeholder. And so yeah, I think that it just really makes sense to stay connected to the professional organizations because you won’t know what hit you until it hits you. So what you want to do is stay ahead of the paddles, which is one of the terms that we use in our business, there’s always a paddle coming after us at every every every point where there’s legislation, or COVID It doesn’t matter what it is. So the key is to be as prepared as you possibly can for each panels that come and if you can somehow anticipate what a panel you know might be booked for comps and by doing that you can be up on the current legislation you can be up on the current trends in the professor because we become about you know the current pitfalls you know, and then you’re much more likely to be a successful individual and happy with your professor. I love it.



Thank you so much for coming on. I appreciate it and definitely to get connected with anyone AAPT like you said check go to that website. Thank you so much for coming on. We absolutely appreciate you Take care everyone.



And a big thank you to Jenna and Leon for a wonderful episode. And of course thank you to our sponsor Net Health. So again if you are looking to get your clinic found online, increase your reputation and your referrals then dead net house Digital Marketing Solutions has the tools you need to beat the competition get found get chosen get those five star reviews. If you sign up now for a free marketing audit digital marketing solutions from Net Health will buy lunch for your office head over to net forward slash li T zy to sign up for you a complimentary marketing audit today.



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