Interview with Justin Lantz

What is your name and where do you live?  

My name is Justin Michael Lantz and I live in sunny Los Angeles (LA), California.  While most say they live in LA, they often mean Los Angeles County, which is vast and contains multiple cities. While I used to take residence in the city of Los Angeles, I now live with my wife and family in Redondo Beach, located in the South Bay.  The South Bay area of LA is known for their beaches, beautiful waterfronts, surfing and seafood. 

Can you tell us a bit about yourself? What do you do when you are not working with Myelopathy.org? What do you do during your spare time?    

Well as most people will often joke, I usually always start with the fact that I am a Chicago native, which is one of the best cities on earth! We love our sports, tall buildings, and of course pizza (both deep dish and tavern style).  

I am a physical therapist by training. I obtained my Bachelor of Science (BS) degree in Public Health from Northern Illinois University (NIU) and Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) degree from Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine. I later became board certified in orthopedic physical therapy, and went on to complete my fellowship training at the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC). 

I am currently an Associate Professor in the Division of Biokinesiology and Physical Therapy as well as the Department of Family Medicine at the University of Southern California (USC) and serve as the founder and Director of the USC Spine Physical Therapy Fellowship Program.  As a clinical faculty member, I am active in patient care, as well as teaching and training of our MD/DPT students, residents and fellows, and conducting research in spine care.  Outside of clinical work, I am heavily involved in North American Spine Society (NASS), as well as the American Academy of Orthopaedic Manual Physical Therapists (AAOMPT) and the American Physical Therapy Association (APTA).

Spare time? Never heard of it. Just kidding. In my spare time, I love to spend it with my friends and family.  I love to find good food and drinks, watch movies, listen to live music, travel and stay active. Exercise is a huge part of my life so if I am not doing anything specifically fun, you will likely find me outside the house doing something active.  

What is your role at Myelopathy.org?

At this moment, I am currently involved as a member the Diagnostic Criteria Incubator and the Perioperative Rehabilitation Incubator of the REsearch objectives and COmmon Data Elements for Degenerative Cervical Myelopathy (RECODE-DCM) at Myelopathy.org 

Why did you get involved with Myelopathy.org? 

I have always had an interest in the diagnosis and management of spinal disorders, especially in those pertaining to the cervical spine.  Over the years, I have seen many cases of cervical myelopathy. However, I have always been surprised how little evidence there actually is for diagnosis and perioperative management despite all health professions claiming to be “evidence-based”.   If we have little published evidence on how we are diagnosing and managing this disorder, it begs the question of WHAT ARE WE DOING when we see our patients and HOW DO WE KNOW if we are helping or not?  My goal with getting involved is to start filling in these gaps for clinicians and patients so that they can feel confident that they are providing or receiving the care they need. 

How did you hear about Myelopathy.org?

I actually heard about Myelopahty.org through Dr. David Anderson, physiotherapist, researcher and current Chair of the Perioperative Rehabilitation Incubator of RECODE-DCM.  David and I were introduced through a mutual colleague and one of my mentors as a student, Dr. James Elliott, who is currently at the University of Sydney.  Once I got involved, I noticed many familiar faces including Dr. Benjamin Davies and Dr. Jamie Wilson, who I have met through the Early Career Advisory Council (ECAC) of the North American Spine Society (NASS).  Small world.

What has your experience been like with Myelopathy.org?

My experience thus far has been great!  Not only has it been so invigorating to work with others who share a similar passion, but it has been a blessing to do it with those around the world.  I enjoy the efficiency and structure of the group and think by working together we can tackle big things in the world of cervical myelopathy.  

Tell us two truths and one lie about yourself

  • I used to compete as an amateur bodybuilder with my last show being a North American Pro-Qualifier. 
  • Living in California, I have never been to Disneyland or Universal Studios.
  • I started traveling outside of the country at the age of 6 weeks (LIE- I actually did not fly outside of the country until I was 21 years old and have had a travel bug ever since; however, my newborn daughter has already had her first plane ride at 6 weeks old! Way ahead of me!)