Introducing Mary Saloka Morrison, Your Bay Isles Movement Mentor

Jay Steele - Inspirational Bay Isles Neighbor.

May I invite myself to become one of your resources for living a healthy life?

Wellness has been my life work. I began my career as a physical therapist working in a large city hospital in 1980. In the years since then, I’ve continued my education both academically and through my work with many patients and especially those seeking to optimize wellness.

I have worked with patients across the lifespan, infancy through old age. I have worked with those with orthopedic issues including low back pain, rotator cuff, total joint replacements as well as those with neurological issues, including Parkinson’s Disease, stroke, and imbalance leading to falls. I also teach exercise including weight lifting for osteoporosis and yoga as well as doctoral candidates in physical therapy. With all of these variables, one thing has never changed: my love for the study of movement and wellness and the optimization of function.

Jay Steele
Jay Steele

Ahhhh, to live in Florida and have the many opportunities to participate in the movement of our choosing. I use the word “movement” to be inclusive of the many types and reasons for movement. Some of us consider movement a required exercise and do it to try to stay healthy. Others of us enjoy the challenge and competition of sport and still others utilize movement for relaxation, centering and life balance. Exercise can be done solo or become a part of our social networks. Maybe several of these items are true for you. They are all good!

What is most important is something that only comes from within: motivation.  What is the best exercise for you? Truly, the one you love to do, or at best, the one you least dislike. In addition, we optimize our physical wellness by addressing these five components: posture, strength, flexibility, balance, endurance. All are vital to you your well being. Be honest. Does your lifestyle support all five?

Sometimes, it seems easier to forgo exercise and often, for good reasons. Let’s consider arthritis. Those with arthritis in parts of the lower extremities may find even walking uncomfortable. You try to lift weights but it is painful and you are afraid that you are making the arthritis worse. Little by little, you start moving less and less. You walk slower and your balance worsens. Another scenario is that you grind through the sport you love and don’t quit, but the pain affects your play. Additional exercise seems impossible.

I’d like you to meet Jay Steele. Fourteen years ago, he realized that, due to worsening arthritic pain and loss of function in both knees, he would likely need to undergo total knee arthroplasty (total knee replacements). He had injured both knees playing high school football and had surgery for cartilage removal in his 40’s. Throughout his adult life, he was physically active, including biking, lifting weights, running and golf. Some people wait until they can barely walk and succumb to surgery. Jay was proactive and sought out expert care and actually embarked on “prehab.”

He worked with a physical therapist who instituted a full lower leg strengthening program. He did this for a year before the actual surgery. This and a commitment to exercise and the will to push himself, despite pain and setbacks of infection, led him to a fantastic outcome. Thirteen years later, he continues to hike, bike walk and golf. He has even hiked Machu Pichu! Jay exemplifies someone proactive with his physical well being who demonstrates that it takes good, hard, informed work, to keep up a great quality of life.

Not everyone can maintain such a high level of activity, but most of us can improve our current status. Maybe you are doing pretty well and a few changes in routine could allow you to be even better. Jay always expected that he would do well. This is not to be underestimated.  He sought out and received good health care and he did his homework — a therapist’s dream!

I would like to continue to talk about dealing with arthritis.  In upcoming issues, I will talk about braces and orthotics and the benefits of exercise for knee and hip arthritis. There is a lot of information available, particularly on the internet. Some are accurate and helpful and some may actually be harmful. I will be interviewing residents about their health habits and concerns and providing information on recent scientific advances and understandings about our health. Living on this beautiful Longboat Key, we have ample opportunity to be fit – let’s do it well.

Please send your requests for Fitness Information from Mary to:


About Mary Saloka Morrison

I am a physical therapist who has worked with patients of all ages and ability levels. I currently work in an adult outpatient clinic and enjoy the experiences of physical therapy diagnosis and treatment of people in the geriatric and neurological populations. It is a privilege to work with these people and I feel humbled by their spirit and courage. I am part of the Cleveland Clinic Neupro-Residency program and am the lead for the stroke unit. I deliver a wellness class for those with Parkinson's Disease, incorporating current evidence into the activities as well as providing education. Research interests lie in the area of postural alignment and control as related to neurologic conditions, and particularly, hyperkyphosis. My clinical framework involves assessment of dynamic postural alignment and how it contributes to issues in multiple body systems.I spearheaded the first competency-based PT education program at the Cleveland Clinic which served as a model for two additional competency programs. As a part of a fantastic team, Osteoporosis and Bone Health was developed and delivered system wide, including training the trainers and establishing enrollment on-line. Most recently, I was a part of another team that created and delivered Falls Best Practice. These programs serve to assure that physical therapists in a large organization are up to date with evidence based evaluation and treatment of particular PT diagnoses.

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