Carson/Dayton (775) 883-4161

Sparks (775) 284-2984

Watsonville (831) 786-9000

Meet Your PT


Steven Bruce, PT

Steven has always considered it a true blessing to call Santa Cruz his home. After graduating from Aptos High School he attended Cabrillo College before transferring to Fresno State where he earned his degree in Physical Therapy in 1997. It took a few years of working in northern Nevada and then in Paso Robles, but he eventually returned home in 2004 to help start Pacific Coast Therapy.

Outpatient orthopedics and sports rehabilitation became his passion early in his career. He loves taking weekend courses to advance his knowledge and skills. He has focused his continuing education on manual therapy for soft tissue and joint mobilizations, post-surgical rehabilitation, and strength and conditioning. He passed his CSCS exam in 2008 and is currently in the process of becoming certified as an upper extremity specialist through the International Academy of Orthopedic Medicine. His passion is for training and rehabilitation of the overhead athlete; which includes baseball and softball players, volleyball players, tennis/racquetball players, and swimmers. He also has additional training for helping golfers improve their game through flexibility and stabilization exercise programs. As a former baseball catcher for Aptos and Cabrillo and now a coach for Aptos High School, his long term goal is to become a certified pitching coach with an eventual goal of providing education to local athletes of all ages.

Outside of work, Steven loves spending time with his high school sweetheart wife and their 2 boys, golfing, coaching baseball, cooking, listening to music, and attending church functions at Twin Lakes.

Debby Henn, MPT

Debby is a local physical therapist with over 20 years experience. She has been a part of Pacific Coast Therapists since 2010. She grew up in the Santa Cruz area and graduated from Soquel High. After attending Cabrillo College, where she played volleyball and softball, she received both her undergraduate and Masters degrees in Physical Therapy from CSU Fresno in 1994.

Debby was fortunate enough to travel across the United States, from coast to coast working as a Traveling Physical Therapist. She was able to gain experience in a variety of settings, including sports and orthopedics, home health, skilled nursing and acute care/hospital settings. Debby has taught back safety and education classes, along with aquatic therapy classes (prenatal and individual pool therapy). She has also worked as a SCUBA instructor (open water, advanced and Drysuit training). She returned to Santa Cruz area in 1998 to focus on outpatient orthopedics.

Debby enjoys treating patients with a variety of orthopedic conditions, but especially enjoys working with runners of all ages and kids with sports injuries. “It’s such an amazing thing to be able to help someone get back to doing the things they love.”

In her free time she enjoys running, wake surfing, dirt bike riding and supporting her kids at St. Francis High and Soquel High/Hartnell College sports programs. Debby attends Twin Lakes Church, has 2 kids and is married (25 years) to her high school sweetheart.

Cheri Ermshar, PTA, CMP

Cheri began working in the field of rehabilitation in 2009 as a rehab tech and CNA in an acute rehab facility in Arroyo Grande, CA. The challenge of watching patients progress to meet their goals proved very satisfying, and prompted her to pursue a certification in Massage Therapy and a Massage Therapy practice in 2010. After successfully running her practice in Ca, Cheri made a move with her family to Oregon and decided to continue with her education and returned to school to become a Physical Therapy Assistant. She graduated in 2016 from Lane Community College with honors, and moved to the Santa Cruz area. Shortly thereafter, she joined the team at Pacific Coast Therapists.

Cheri’s past experiences include employment and clinical rotations in acute care ands skilled nursing settings. She enjoys working with a patient population of varied levels and ages. Cheri specializes in manual therapy and has had the opportunity to use her skills in all settings. She is particularly interested in the role that myofascial tissue plays in chronic back and neck pain, and looks forward to furthering her education in the use of both myofascial release and muscle energy techniques.

In her free time, Cheri cherishes her time spent with her family and two dogs, and can often be found exploring a new beach, hiking in the redwoods, or rock climbing at Pinnacles National Park.

Ashlee McMicken, PT, DPT

Ashlee joined PCT in 2013. She was born and raised in California and has also lived in Oregon and Colorado. She received her undergraduate degree in Exercise Science from Pacific University in Oregon in 2006 and continued on to receive her Doctorate in Physical Therapy from Regis University in Colorado in 2009. After finishing school, she moved back to California, eventually making her way to the Santa Cruz area in 2013.

Ashlee is a former soccer player, and after suffering many injuries in her career, she became passionate about physical therapy and in helping others return to their sports and lives following an injury. She has worked in several outpatient orthopedic clinics in the Bay Area, and she also spent time in home health care and acute care/skilled nursing facilities during her clinical rotations. She enjoys working with all orthopedic injuries over all age groups, as well as post-surgical rehabilitation. Recently, Ashlee has begun pursing current treatment approaches for vestibular dysfunction and disorders and looks forward to taking classes towards becoming a specialist in this area of treatment.

In her spare time, Ashlee enjoys hiking in and around the Bay Area, attending sports games (Go SHARKS!!), spending time with friends and family, playing the violin, cooking and traveling around the US and abroad.

Sarah Christiansen, PT, DPT

Sarah was raised in Santa Cruz County in the beautiful little town of Boulder Creek. She earned her Bachelor of Science degree in Kinesiology from San Jose State in 2012 and continued with her education, earning her Doctorate in Physical Therapy from Sacramento State in 2015.

Sarah joined Pacific Coast Therapists in 2015. She enjoys working with a variety of patients and different conditions from post-surgical to general aches and pains. Sarah has recently started developing a pediatric program for patients 0-5 years old for Torticollis and Developmentally delayed conditions. She looks forward to continuing the pursuit of this specialty with further training. Sarah is passionate about helping her patients’ reach their goals and helping them return to a quality life that everyone deserves.

During her free time, Sarah enjoys spending time with her family and her dog Millie. She also enjoys hiking, trips to Tahoe, cooking, and traveling for weekend getaway trips to visit friends.

Nellie Thorngate, MS, PTA

Nellie graduated from the Physical Therapist Assistant program at Gurnick Academy of Medical Arts in 2014, returning to school for a change in career after working as a wildlife biologist for 10 years. Nellie has worked in the orthopedic outpatient environment since graduation, and joined the team at Pacific Coast Therapists in October 2016.

As a physical therapist assistant I specialize in therapeutic movement, aquatic therapy, adaptive yoga, and soft tissue work, and am currently pursuing certifications in Medical Therapeutic Yoga and Health and Wellness Coaching.

I am passionate about healing the human body through movement, and my fundamental aspiration as a physical therapist assistant is to help each person I work with to find the most functional, comfortable, and joyful movement available to their body. As a dancer and yoga practitioner as well as a perpetual student of the art and science of physical therapy, I am constantly studying the human body in motion, and take great joy in discovering new ways of helping bodies move and heal.

Ismansjah “Smo” Soekardi, PT, CSCS

Smo joined PCT as a part-time PT in 2010. He graduated from Sonoma State University in 1994, where he played football and received his BS in Kinesiology. He went on to graduate school at The Robert Gordon University in Aberdeen, Scotland and earned a BSc (with honors) in Physiotherapy in 1999. In addition to being a licensed physical therapist, he is also a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist through the NSCA.

He has taken numerous continuing education courses throughout his career, particular in spinal stabilization and manipulative therapies along with courses for shoulder and knee rehabilitation. He is currently preparing to take the Board Specialty Certification in Sports.

He enjoys working with patients of all levels and ages and takes great satisfaction in helping patients return from injuries that prevent them from participating in their passions, whether that be surfing, dancing, or whatever your sport may be.

Smo’s own hobbies include being an assistant football coach at Cabrillo College since 2004 and also being a competitive powerlifter. He holds California State records for the deadlift and was a World Champion in 2003. He also enjoys golfing and family time with his wife and two young children.

Sarah Martinez, Front Office

Sarah was born in New Mexico but was raised here in wonderful Watsonville. She has been in the physical therapy field since 1996 when she started working as an aide. She has been with PCT from the beginning, helping to open our office in 2004 and has been a valuable asset ever since! She is known around here as the "front office guru" because of her excellent knowledge of all things related to insurance billing. She is responsible for management of patients accounts and billing and enjoys helping our patients understand and maximizing their insurance benefits. She will be happy to answer any and all of your questions regarding your PT coverage.

When Sarah isn't busy keeping the rest of us in our places, she enjoys spending time with her husband, kids, and five grandchildren. Her passion is helping the Watsonville community by fund-raising with her husband for local agencies such as Jacob's Heart’s "Kidrageous," as well as for other local schools and sports teams.

Shelley Neate, PT, CEAS

Shelley graduated from California State University at Fresno with a Degree in Physical Therapy in 1983. Since that time she has enjoyed a broad range of interests in the physical therapy field. She has worked in Skilled Nursing Facilities, Home Health, Orthopedics and is a Certified Ergonomics Assessment Specialist. She enjoys working with a wide variety of patients.

Although only Joining the High Desert Therapists team In 2013, she was previously partnered with L. Richard Stephenson. P.T. in Watsonville, CA. at Redwood Pacific Therapists, Inc., and later was a partner in Redwood Therapy Solutions, also in Watsonville.

Shelley enjoys working with all kinds of fiber: she knits, spins, weaves and quilts! She and her husband enjoy walking with their adopted Greyhound and golf. She also enjoys giving b ck and serving the community she lives in by participating in a Rotary International club where she lives.



L. Rick Stephenson, RPT

Rick received his B.S. in Physical Therapy in 1971 from California State University, Long Beach, graduating on the Dean’s Honor List. His love for outpatient therapy developed quickly after school while working for a small private practice in Watsonville, California. His clinical skills and entrapanural desires blended themselves together perfectly when he purchased that office in 1974. By his leadership this practice developed into the largest therapy group in Watsonville. Then in 1995 he made the move to a little town called Minden in Northern Nevada, with the intent to “slow down.” That didn’t last long as his expertise helped him to open and develop High Desert Therapists. This practice has grown to include clinics in Carson City, Sparks, and Dayton.

Rick is known not only for his clinical excellence, but also for his knowledge of human pathology and clinical diagnostics. He believes one of the most important tools a physical therapists has is the ability take a proper and thorough history and then to combine that information with his diagnostic skills to accurately identify the true pain generator. He loves taking on the “difficult” and “unusual” cases. His extensive continuing education courses that he has taken over his career have helped to develop a knowledge base that he uses for the benefit of each and every one of his patients.

Outside of work, Rick loves spending time with his wife, his kids and grandkids. His family, friends, and the community around him know him for his philanthropy. Involved in Rotary International since the 1970’s, he has served as a President and is a Paul Harris Fellow. He and his wife, Gina, have donated literally thousands of wine dinner parties totaling over 5 million dollars in donations for local charities and organizations including Keep Memory Alive, Watsonville Community Hospital, Barton Memorial Hospital, Carson Tahoe Hospital, Boys and Girls Clubs, Let ‘Em Run, local public and private schools, and The Thunderbird Lodge.

PJ Wooten

Peggy developed a desire to work within the medical field at a very early age. She began her professional career in 1976 after graduating from WV University with a degree in both Nursing and Accounting. She gained valuable experience working at several hospitals in Hollywood, Florida and eventually earned a prestigious position working for an orthopedic doctor who invented the Fixel Inhibitor for hip replacements. She then transitioned into a nurse case manager for Blue Cross and Blue Shield in West Virginia. She then decided to take another direction with her career and utilize her degree in accounting. She worked as a business manager for several outpatient clinics, skilled nursing facilities, was a liaison for a hospital in Indiana, and a supervisor of an Oncology, Rheumatology and Outreach Clinics in a teaching hospital in Iowa. She also owned a business in Indiana as an independent contractor for General Electric as a consultant for their budgets and expenses.

Peggy joined HDT in August of 1997 and quickly worked her way into the position of office manager. Her vast past experiences has helped her to develop extensive knowledge in managing billing and patient accounts as well as helping to manage our business office.

Outside of work, she is very passionate about animals (especially her 2 Pugs). She frequently volunteers at various adoption clinics to help abandoned animals find good homes. She also enjoys making quilts that she then donates to various charities who can auction them to help fund their organization. With any remaining spare time, you will find her in the kitchen experimenting with new recipes (she might even create some of her own), reading, or enjoying a little game of golf.

Linda Wolfe, PT

Linda started her career in physical therapy after graduating from the University of Connecticut in 1968 with a degree in physical therapy. She started at Yale-New Haven Hospital after which she had traveling positions with Easter Seals in North Dakota and subsequently in Nevada. She worked for a private practice for 20 years and eventually became part owner in the practice during which time she helped establish a physical therapy clinic for 2 spinal surgeons in Reno. She joined High Desert Therapists in 2002 where she has been working in both our Sparks and Carson City offices. Most of her career has been in out-patient orthopedics. She enjoys guiding her patients to a more pain-free and productive life and working with all orthopedic injuries. Her favorite areas to treat include the shoulder, knee and cervical spine injuries. Manual therapy is her special interest and she is constantly striving to improve her manual skills. In her spare time she enjoys knitting, crocheting, camping, hiking, and spending time with her grandchildren.

Joann Dohallow, PT

Joann began her career in Sports Medicine in 1972 treating collegiate and professional athletes while attending Case Western Reserve University (BA in Biology 1975)and Northwestern University's Certificate in Physical Therapy Program (1975-1976).

She migrated West rehabilitating collegiate athletes & teaching in the Kinesiology Department at Cal State University, Hayward before opening her own Sports Injury Prevention & Treatments clinics, called PACER, in Contra Costa County, California.

Thirty years later she retired to Zephyr Cove, NV and wintered in Pass-a-Grille, Florida.

While a patient at HDTI in 2010, Rick offered Joann a per diem PT position that suited her desire to work part time & travel. She loves experiencing new cultures and exploring the oceans. Her favorite diving has been in the Red Sea, Figi, Australia, Belize & Roatan.

Locally, you can find her hiking the Sierras & discovering the beauty of Western Nevada.


CJ has worked with High Desert Therapists since November of 1995. Her rare combination of experience in orthopedics, physical therapy and personal fitness training and her extraordinary ability in aquatic therapy provides our patients a unique opportunity to achieve the best recovery possible. CJ’s knowledge and holistic approach to recovery establishes understanding and motivation with patients to apply exercise and recovery beyond physical therapy. In the Northern Nevada area, only High Desert Therapists, Inc. has an “in ground” warm water therapy pool on it’s premise. CJ’s focus on aquatic therapy has enhanced success for spine, and joint issues, balance deficits and neurologic disorders. Throughout her career, CJ has expanded and intensified her certification training and has been promoted to the position of Patient Care Coordinator to assist in the overall health assessments and post therapy success.

CJ’s training and education are unique and special. She obtained her Associate of Science Degree in Biological Science from Western Nevada Community College in 2002. She has maintained certifications as a Medical Exercise Specialist and is certified by the Aquatic Therapy Rehabilitation Institute and Aquatic Exercise Association. She is also certified by the Arthritis Foundation as an Aquatic Program Leader, the American Council on Exercise as a Clinical Exercise Specialist and Personal Trainer, and from the National Strength and Conditioning Association as a Personal Trainer.

CJ’s favorite part of her work is to see how patients’ attitudes change once they are comfortable in the water and understand how aquatic therapy can decrease pain and increase function and mobility. And oh yeah, being in a pool is always fun!

Eileen Olff, PTA

Prior to joining High Desert Therapy in 2011, Eileen lived in Pennsylvania where she was born and raised. Her interest in physical therapy was sparked by a tragic accident in her family, when a teenage nephew sustained a traumatic brain injury in a car accident. As she followed his recovery, she was so amazed and impressed with his therapy treatments that she decided to pursue a career in therapy so that she could provide that same kind of loving care to others. She enlisted at Marie College in Albany, NY in 2000 and graduated from Physical Therapy Assistant school in 2011.

Her early experiences included working in Acute Care Hospitals and Rehab Facilities in New York and Pennsylvania. But then in 2011 she and her husband, Richard, decided it was time for a change and packed up and moved to Nevada, where she has been working in our Dayton clinic ever since. When she is not fulfilling her professional desire to help people recovery from all types of injuries, she enjoys leisure time with her husband and friends gardening, cooking and wine tasting. She also enjoys traveling back to the East Coast to spend time with her children, grandchildren, family and friends.

Shelley Neate, PT, CEAS

Shelley graduated from California State University at Fresno with a Degree in Physical Therapy in 1983. Since that time she has enjoyed a broad range of interests in the physical therapy field. She has worked in Skilled Nursing Facilities, Home Health, Orthopedics and is a Certified Ergonomics Assessment Specialist. She enjoys working with a wide variety of patients.

Although only Joining the High Desert Therapists team In 2013, she was previously partnered with L. Richard Stephenson. P.T. in Watsonville, CA. at Redwood Pacific Therapists, Inc., and later was a partner in Redwood Therapy Solutions, also in Watsonville.

Shelley enjoys working with all kinds of fiber: she knits, spins, weaves and quilts! She and her husband enjoy walking with their adopted Greyhound and golf. She also enjoys giving b ck and serving the community she lives in by participating in a Rotary International club where she lives.