MEET THE STAAR 2023 INSTRUCTORS
Ria Acciani, MPT, CCRP
Co-Owner - Advanced Canine Rehabilitation Center, Warren, New Jersey, US
Ria Acciani received her Masters in Physical Therapy degree from U. of St. Augustine, Florida, and trained directly with Stanley V. Paris, PT, PhD, FAPTA. She has over 25 years of experience in human Physical Therapy, and has specialized in Canine Rehabilitation for more than 20 years. She received her CCRP from UTN and was the first Physical Therapist (PT) in New Jersey to practice on dogs (2000).
Ria owns and operates the Advanced Canine Rehabilitation Center, a practice that focuses on orthopedic and sports rehabilitation of performance and sporting dogs. She travels extensively to national and international dog competitions, and works with top-level competitors. She is the Official Therapist for the AKC US World Team, IFCS US Agility Team, WAO US Agility Team, and has travelled with these teams since 2010. Ria conducts instructional seminars on a variety of topics for dog handlers and educates them on how to prevent injury and enhance performance within their sport. Ria worked closely with Dr. Sherman Canapp and VOSM to establish the rehabilitation protocol for various shoulder and elbow conditions. She has published articles in Veterinary Surgery and Clean Run, and has presented at STAAR (since 2010), IAVRPT, ARSIG/APTA, and SCIVAC. She is a Board Member for ARSIG/APTA and a Member of AARV.
Susan E. Davis, PT, DPT
Owner - Joycare Onsite
Red Bank, New Jersey, US
Dr. Susan Davis is an internationally recognized Physical Therapist with 44 years of clinical experience. She graduated from Northwestern University PT and Rosalind Franklin University of Medicine and Science. Susan worked with human patients for the first 30 years of her career in hospitals and her own private practice. In 2008 she made a transition into the veterinary world, working exclusively with non-human animals, after having completed coursework and training in canine rehabilitation. Her current practice is Joycare Onsite, LLC and she provides Physical Therapy to pets in their home, in clinics, animal shelters, farms and zoos, and performs distance consultation with pet owners virtually. She works with dogs, cats, rabbits, birds, farm animals, exotics and wildlife. Susan is a member of the American Physical Therapy Association and International Association for Veterinary Rehabilitation and Physical Therapy. Susan authored and published 2 books: “Physical Therapy and Rehabilitation for Animals: A Guide for the Consumer”, and “All Hands on Pet!” and writes a monthly blog, the Pet PT Pit Stop. She developed a manual 3D technique for patellar luxation and was primary author on a published research study on MPL. Susan teaches continuing education courses on PT for Animals. She worked as a credentialed member of the media team of the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show for several years. She is an engaging, passionate speaker for professional audiences, providing lively, well-structured content. Her inherent love of animals and desire to promote active, healthy living shines clearly through her work and presentations.
Laurie Edge-Hughes, PT, MAn St, CAFCI, CCRT
Co-Owner - The Canine Fitness Centre
Calgary, Alberta, Canada
Laurie Edge-Hughes obtained her Bachelor of Science in Physical Therapy from the University of Alberta in 1993 and has since focused her post-graduate training on orthopedics, osteopathy, acupuncture, and animal rehabilitation. Additionally, she completed her Master of Animal Studies in Animal Physiotherapy through the University of Queensland (Australia) in 2006.
Laurie has the honor of having taught the first canine physiotherapy/physical therapy courses in Canada (1999), the USA (1999), and Australia (2001). She has been involved in the Animal Rehab Division since its inception in 1994 and teaches canine physiotherapy and rehabilitation courses for the Animal Rehab Division of the Canadian Physiotherapy Association (CPA). Additionally, she presently holds the position of Past-Chair & Advocacy Lead for the Animal Rehab Division of the CPA. She taught for ten years for the Canine Rehabilitation Institute in the USA, and lecturers internationally as often as able.
Laurie’s biggest teaching venture is currently via www.FourLeg.com, an online educational platform for continuing education in canine rehabilitation / physiotherapy. Laurie co-owns and practices out of the Canine Fitness Centre Ltd (www.caninefitness.com) in Calgary, Alberta.
Amie Hesbach, PT, DPT, MSPT, CCRP, CCRT
Owner - EmpowerPhysioPet
Boston, Massachusetts, US
Amie Hesbach is a doctor of physical therapy with over twenty-five years of experience with human patients and over twenty years with small animal patients. She has expertise and experience in the application of manual therapy and facilitation techniques (including PNF and IASTM), corrective functional exercise training, and proprioceptive and neuromuscular retraining in orthopaedic, athletic, and neurologic patients. She has a clinical interest in the application of physical therapy and rehabilitation techniques to maximize the potential for NeuroPlasticity and recovery in her patients.
Dr. Hesbach was educated at the University of Montana (DPT, Physical Therapy), the Medical College of Virginia (MS, Physical Therapy), and Slippery Rock University of Pennsylvania (BS, Biology). She completed a post-graduate NeuroRehabilitation residency in Proprioceptive Neuromuscular Facilitation (PNF) at the Kaiser Foundation Rehabilitation Center in Vallejo, California.
Dr. Hesbach is certified in Canine Rehabilitation through both the University of Tennessee (UT) and the Canine Rehabilitation Institute (CRI). Dr. Hesbach has published and lectured on both human and canine rehabilitation in the United States, Japan, and throughout Europe. She continues to offer webinars and online clinical coaching to pet parents and animal physical therapy and rehabilitation colleagues.
Dr. Hesbach is the past President of the Animal Rehabilitation/Physical Therapy Special Interest Group of the American Physical Therapy Association (APTA). She owns and operates EmpowerPhyioPet, a mobile pet physical therapy and rehabilitation practice near Boston, Massachusetts. In 2022, Dr. Hesbach was honored with the award of IAVRPT Animal Rehabilitation Practitioner of the Year.
Jenny Moe, PT, MS, DPT, CCRT
Owner- Doggon' Wheels Owner, Pawesome PT/
Moe Love MFR; VP - APTA APTSIG
San Francisco, California, US
Dr. Jenny is a licensed human physical therapist of 20 years and earned her certification in canine rehabilitation 13 years ago from the Canine Rehabilitation Institute (CRI). In 2009, Dr. Jenny left pediatrics to work in a busy specialty veterinary practice in the San Francisco Bay Area (SAGE Veterinary Centers), where she built up the rehab practice to two locations. She moved on to open a practice (Pawesome PT) in the South Lake Tahoe region in 2018 in Stateline, NV where she stayed until the pandemic led them back to San Francisco in 2020.
Dr. Jenny now focuses on a mobile manual therapy practice and Doggon' Wheels in the San Francisco area. Dr. Jenny is excited to pair her love for assistive devices, senior pets, and creative solutions with the business. She has a passion for educating the veterinary world and the public about the benefits of early use of assistive aids for a wide variety of patients, and undoing the belief that impaired mobility is "the end of the road/last resort".
Dr. Jenny is well-known among her colleagues for her creative treatment approaches and solutions to tailor ideas to individual cases.
Elena Saltis, BSc, NZPT, APA, CCRT
Owner, Director - Animal Physio NZ
Christchurch, New Zealand
Elena Saltis received her undergraduate degree in Physical Therapy at Ohio State University. She started PhysiotherapyNZ Limited, a prominent, successful, multi-clinic human Physio business in the South Island of New Zealand. She went on to obtain her certificate in canine rehabilitation (CCRT) from the Canine Rehabilitation Institute (CRI). After graduating she continued to hone her skills, attending post graduate courses at CRI, further study through the Australian Physiotherapy Association - Special Interest Group, and multiple internships at various facilities. Elena went on to become an instructor for CRI in both the US and Australia, and presented at numerous international conferences.
Elena is passionate about giving back and imparting her therapy skills on animals most in need. She established a rehabilitation clinic in Spain in partnership with the Galgo Rescue sanctuary. She started Street Tails, a charity providing veterinary and physical therapy services to the pets of people who are homeless. Also, she developed Canine NeuroPark Charity Trust, a private rehabilitation and enrichment park in Christchurch, New Zealand.
Debbie (Gross) Torraca, MSPT, DPT, CCRP, CCMT
Wizard of Paws
Colchester, Connecticut, US
Dr. Debbie Torraca began her career in human physical therapy (PT) and specialized in orthopedics, sports medicine, and pain management. With a solid foundation in human PT, she has adapted her skills (including her expertise in the Mulligan Technique) to her work with animals. Dr. Torraca is a pioneer in the field of canine physical therapy and is a founder of the University of Tennessee’s (UTN) certificate program (CCRP). She also founded and heads the Certified Canine Manual Therapy (CCMT) program at UTN.
Following her undergraduate studies at Boston University, Dr. Torraca received her master’s in Physical Therapy from Quinnipiac College and her doctorate in Physical Therapy from UTN-Chattanooga. She transitioned to her work with animals early in her career, and has now been practicing canine rehabilitation for more than 25 years.
Dr. Torraca has authored many chapters in veterinary textbooks and writes for professional journals and magazines dedicated to the dog enthusiast. She is a regular contributor to Clean Run, Dog Sport, Working Dog Digest, Dogs Naturally, and various breed magazines. She has been a speaker and instructor at many veterinary conferences including the International Association of Veterinary Rehabilitation and Physical Therapy (IAVRPT), American College of Veterinary Surgeons (ACVS), North American Veterinary Conference (NAVC), Atlantic Coast Veterinary Conference (ACVC), Western States Veterinary Conference (WSVC), and many state conferences. She sits on the advisory board for Companion Animal Health and has been a key speaker at the American International Medical Laser Association, highlighting her latest research.
Dr. Torraca is a longtime member of American Physical Therapy Association Special Interest Group (APTA-SIG) and has held the office of President. She is also a member of the International Veterinary Academy of Pain Management (IVAPM). She is an active member of the Portuguese Water Dog Club of America, the American Bullmastiff Association, the Clumber Spaniel Club of America, and various other local dog clubs and organizations including the Connecticut Police Canine Unit.
Dr. Torraca’s passions in canine physical rehabilitation include pain-free approaches to therapy, manual therapies, and photobiomodulation. She enjoys working with performance and working dogs, and those super seniors.