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Top 40 physical therapy influencers 2020

A Yearly Look During an Unprecedented Year

Every year we take an industry pulse on individuals and/or organizations that have made a positive impact through their contributions. It's been abundantly clear that the physical therapy industry is full of talented people. It's always a challenge to narrow it down to 40, yet it helps shine a spotlight on the few that help the many. 2020 presented many challenges. We lost friends, colleagues, and family to a disease that ravaged our lives. Through this immense challenge we did our best to continue forward. This years list of top 40 physical therapy influencers were a bright beacon through tumultuous times. They are certainly not the only ones, but they are highly deserving of the recognition. If you need a refresher from years past you can find the 2016 Top 40 list [HERE], the 2017 Top 40 list [HERE], the 2018 Top 40 list [HERE], and the 2019 top 40 [HERE.]


2020 began with a hopeful footing that quickly evolved. As brick-and-mortar operations quickly transitioned to asynchronous, digital appointments, hybridized patient management, and the like — clinical leaders had to also shift their methods as well as fine novel ways to inspire struggling clinicians in how to adapt to this quickly emerging landscape. In this past year, these clinical influencers helped shine bright, the silver linings to year filled with challenges — keeping the aims of continuously improving the quality patient care and ongoing clinician development as a top of mind area of focus, during such a time when it was far easier to do otherwise.

Julie Wiebe

Sandy Hilton

Jeff Moore

Chris Johnson

Mike Reiman

Nicole Stout

Business & Industry

2020 saw multiple challenges for the physical therapy industry. Most physical therapy clinics rely on in-person visits, so what do you do when that option is taken away? You turn digital. This years business influencers helped the physical therapy industry navigate the best practice for digital connection. Advising on how to best connect on YouTube, to develop marketing strategies, to updating conversational touch points were critical in 2020. Another big challenge was the looming 9% medicare cut, which required advocacy and a unified front during a pandemic year. Every influencer made a strong contribution to the business and/or industry advocacy in 2020.


Ben Fung

Jerry Durham

Anthony Maritato

Larry Benz

Sharon Dunn

Rick Gawenda

Emma Stokes


When gyms close, and people get a bit stir crazy, social media becomes a go-to for movement. And who better than physical therapists with unique fitness/coaching abilities? These influencers helped millions of people learn how to best move in a safe and sometimes novel way. Having combined millions of followers, they helped shape a different narrative of what a physical therapists looks like and could do.

Kelly Starrett

John Rusin

Stefi Cohen

Prehab Guys

Jen Esquer

Amanda Barnhart

Squat University

Social & Media

What happens when pretty much everything closes? People begin to consume content. A lot of content. 2020 saw the biggest consumption of content, and therefore social growth for many. The influencers below leveraged their unique voice in helping more people than ever have a physical therapist touch point. From within industry voices to mass public content, these influencers utilized their knowledge and skills to reach more people than ever.

Adam Meakins

PT Pintcast

Stephania Bell

Rehab Science

Caleb Burgess

Jarod Hall

Nicholas Rolnick 

Academics and Research

Despite its customary reputation, research and academics is anything but slow and comfortable. 2020 forced researchers and academicians to pivot and accelerate at paces never before thought possible. As the world tackled a pandemic, it was on this group of influencers to anchor our collective thoughts and conceptions regarding emerging trends and the changing face of patient care through evidence driven perspectives and flexible teaching methods to disseminate the latest information. Much as our other influencers trail-blazed, one might say our Academic and Research influencers kept our footing strong on firm foundations. Here are your Academic and Research Influencers of 2020.

Rich Severin

Jeremy Lewis

Chad Cook

Jill Cook

Carol Courtney 

Mary O’Keeffe

Scotty Butcher

New & Noteworthy

Every year, UpDoc is excited to highlight new influencers who are well deserving of recognition. Many times, in our profession, it is easy to overlook those who have contributed on their respective frontlines — but, by process of their work having less visibility, be in danger of assuming thankless roles. It is also in this influencer section we like to spotlight influencers who have shown a truly impressive outreach, deserving of reward. While these influencers aren't necessarily "new," they have all shown significant contribution to our industry on the fronts of advocacy, consumer relations, or professional brand development. Here are your New and Noteworthy 2020 Influencers!

Theresa Marko

Sam Spinelli

Stacie Morris

Shantè Cofield

Jodi Pfeiffer