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Alumni Spotlight: Tatum Robinson ’99, MPT ’02

Tatum Robinson has spent the last 11 years dreaming big and working hard. In 2006, she realized her vision of opening her own physical therapy practice, and today some of her most rewarding work is helping seeing patients with spinal cord injuries regain functionality.

May 25, 2002 was a typical spring graduation day at Elon, with the sun shining down on hundreds of students excited to be graduating and dreaming big.

Tatum Robinson remembers it like it was yesterday. In fact, she had experienced that scene once before in 1999, when she graduated from then Elon College with a degree in exercise sports science. Three years later, on another beautiful day in May, Robinson would graduate with a master's degree in physical therapy.

Fast forward 10 years and you will find Robinson serving on the Board of Advisors for Elon’s School of Health Sciences, while running her own physical therapy practice, aptly named Phoenix Physical Therapy and Sports Performance. Dreaming big, working hard and continuing to grow with each passing year are the essence of Robinson's story.

After graduating in 2002 and gaining a few years of valuable experience in other people's physical therapy practices, she decided it was time to see her vision become a reality. With the help of a great partner, Lisa Ciaravella '98, Robinson opened Phoenix Physical Therapy and Sports Performance in February 2006. Robinson and Ciaravella started with a passion for sports medicine and a small leased space in Denver, N.C. In just seven years, Phoenix PTSP has become the premier physical therapy and wellness facility in the Lake Norman, Denver and Huntersville areas. They have purchased a state-of -the-art facility and operate one satellite office with another to come in the next year.

Robinson's initial thought when she opened Phoenix PTSP was that she would practice physical therapy in outpatient orthopedics, mostly with athletes of any age, 7 to 70. But after just a year in business, a family concerned about their paralyzed daughter approached her about a technique practiced in California. With a heart of gold and a willingness to help, Robinson got on a plane to California to learn progressive spinal cord injury recovery from the specialists at Project Walk. All of a sudden, the orthopedic-focused Phoenix took on a new aspect of therapy. Not surprisingly, some of Robinson's most rewarding work now is seeing patients with spinal cord injuries regain functionality.

Robinson has been instrumental in implementing rehabilitation programs for some of the Charlotte area's best high school athletes, weekend warriors and professional athletes from the NBA, WNBA, and MLB. In addition to specializing in spinal cord injuries, she is also among the 1 percent of physical therapists in the nation certified in the progressive Myofascial Release technique called "dry needling," as well as the Graston Technique. She is certified in the Functional Movement Systems and by the Titleist Performance Institute as a certified golf fitness instructor.

Of all the labels that can be attached to her name, perhaps the one she is most proud of is mother.  In May 2012, Robinson and Ciaravella welcomed a new member to their family and the Phoenix team. The adorable baby girl now brightens up their workdays and brings joy to all who have the pleasure of meeting her. With a beautiful family and a successful business, Robinson is now living the dream that began 11 years ago under the oaks of Elon.

Keren Rivas,
4/10/2013 10:10 AM