About Us

Pioneer Sports and Spine was started in 2014 with a simple philosophy: No one deserves to be in pain. Everyone deserves respect. We treat you like we would treat our family members. We try to avoid narcotics as much as possible. We love natural approaches to pain management including osteopathic manipulation and supplements. But, when needed we will use narcotics, injections or even refer to trusted surgeons.

Derek Higgins, DO

Cami Root, RN

Anna Decker, NP

Paula Russell

Katie Jacobs, MA-PAC

Stephanie Bradley

Derek Higgins, DO

Dr. Higgins is board certified in Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation and Fellowship trained in Pain Management with over 14 years of experience in his field. He graduated from Midwestern University, Arizona College of Osteopathic Medicine in 2007. He completed his residency in Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation at Nassau University Medical Center in 2011. He is currently the owner of Pioneer Sports and Spine and the Amputee Director for Encompass Health Rehabilitation Hospital in Mesa, AZ. He is also a professor at the local medical school, AT Still University. He has published several articles and book chapters.  He received the Outstanding Physician Award from Encompass Health in 2019.

He is the father of 7 wonderful children and step dad to one bonus child. He and his wife live in Mesa, AZ. 


Encompass Rehabilitation Hospital: Outstanding Physician 2019



Dual Board Certified in Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation

  • AOA certificate #376
  • ABPMR certificate #10447

• An Evaluation of the Effectiveness of Osteopathic Medicine Treatment for Carpal Tunnel Syndrome. Heath, D., Burnham, T., Burnham, R., Higgins, D. The Journal of the American Osteopathic Association, March 2015, Vol. 115, 138-148.

• Book Chapter: Meniscal Injuries, Oxford Handbook of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation. Lyn Weiss, Jay Weiss, and Thomas Pobre. Oxford University Press, April 2010, ISBN-10: 0195367774.

• Book Chapter: Radiculopathy, Neuromuscular Quick Pocket Reference. Rawa Araim, Maryam Aghalar, Lyn Weiss. Demos Medical, 2012, ISBN 978-1-936287-50-5.

Professional Development

• Billing and Practice Management for Pain Management Course. Society for Pain Practice Management 26th Annual Meeting, Scottsdale, AZ, Nov 5-8, 2015.
• American Society of Addiction Medicine: ER/LA Opoid REMS: Achieving Safe Use While Improving Patient Care, Phx, March 29, 2014.
• Billing, Coding & Practice Management for Pain Management: Society For Pain Practice Management, Las Vegas, NV, February 26-27, 2014.
• International Spine Intervention Society 21st Annual Scientific Meeting, New York City at the New York Hilton Midtown, July 16-20, 2013.
• Botox for Upper Limb Spasticity Patients Injection Training: Allergan, January 28, 2013.
• Fundamentals of Implantable Pain Therapies (Medtronic Intrathecal Pump and Spinal Cord Stimulator): Fort Worth, TX, December 1, 2012.
• Comprehensive Review Course in Controlled Substance Management: American Society of Interventional Pain Physicians, Denver, CO, November 2-3, 2012.
• Vertebroplasty and Vertebral Augmentation Course, Stryker. Phoenix, AZ: March 3, 2012.
• Coding, Compliance and Practice Management Comprehensive Review Course, American Society of Interventional Pain Physicians. Phoenix, AZ: February 24-25, 2012.
• Spinal Cord Stimulator Course, Boston Scientific. Valencia, CA: September 23-24, 2011.
• Lower Limb Prosthetics and Orthotics: NYU Rusk Institute of Rehabilitation Medicine, New York City, NY, April 25-27, 2011.
• Association of Academic Physiatrists Annual Meeting, Phoenix, Arizona, April 12-16, 2011.
• Upper Limb Prosthetics and Orthotics and Spinal Orthotics: NYU Rusk Institute of Rehabilitation Medicine, New York City, NY, February 14-15, 2011.
• Brain and Spine 2010: Weill Cornell Medical College, New York City, May 7, 2010.
• Musculoskeletal Ultrasound, The New York Society of Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation. New York Presbyterian Hospital. New York, NY: April 24, 2010.
• Practical management and Utilization of the Baclofen Pump in Spasticity, The New York Society of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation. New York, NY: February 2009.
• AOCPM&R Midyear Conference: Musculoskeletal Medicine, New York, NY, May 15-18, 2008.

Osteopathic Courses:
• Basic 40 hour Cranial Course: Viola Frymann D.O., San Diego, CA, Aug. 2-6, 2004.
• Strain and Counterstrain Course, Tucson, AZ, Sept 18-19, 2004.
• Basic 40 hour Cranial Course: Viola Frymann D.O., San Diego, CA, Aug. 1-5, 2005.
• NeuroFascial Release course: Stephen Davidson D.O., Phoenix, AZ, June 17-19, 2005.
• Lymphatic Applications to the Viscera, lead by Ken Lossing D.O. and Bruno Chikly M.D., D.O., Phoenix, AZ, Dec. 2-4, 2005.
• Sutherland Cranial Teaching Foundation Basic Cranial Course, February 2006.
• Manual Procedures and Methods Program: Stanley Schiowitz, Old Westbury, NY, October 17-18, 2009.

Anna Decker, FNP

Anna has been with us since 2018. Before becoming a nurse practitioner, she was a labor and delivery nurse for many years. She brings an incredible amount of experience and knowledge to the team. She lives in Mesa and enjoys spending time with her family. 

Katie Jacobs, MA-PAC

Katie is originally from Northern California, but grew up primarily in Phoenix, Arizona. She graduated Sum Cum Laude from Grand Canyon University with a degree in Biology and Chemistry. Prior to becoming a Physician Assistant, Katie worked as a Physical Therapy Assistant for many years in both an outpatient and in-patient rehab setting. She obtained her Master’s in Physician Assistant Studies from AT Still University, Arizona School of Health Sciences in 2009. During her last year in graduate school, she was awarded the PA Student of the Year by the Arizona State Association of Physician Assistants. Katie practiced the first 9 years of her career in Internal Medicine before transitioning to Physical Medicine in a Chiropractic setting in 2019. 

Katie has special interests in Orthopedics, Rheumatology, and Pain Management. She is passionate about integrating a thorough and holistic approach to the care of her patients by treating a patient’s mind, body, and spirit to achieve optimal health and pain control. 

Currently, Katie lives in Gilbert with her husband and six children. She enjoys outdoor activities such as hiking, mountain and road biking, and gardening. She is active in her church community and loves spending quality time with her family.

Cami Root, RN, BSN

Cami is a registered nurse with years of on the job training in management of intrathecal pumps and has completed a Medtronic training course. She received an ASN from Phoenix College and BSN from Grand Canyon University. She has considerable knowledge in office management and treating patients in a physical medicine and rehabilitation setting.

Paula Russell

Everyone knows and loves Paula at Pioneer Sports and Spine!  Paula is the one who keeps our ship sailing along, officially the Billing Specialist, she does so much more than just manage the accounts.  Originally from El Paso, Paula lives in Gilbert with her husband and two children. They are an active family who enjoy getting outside, playing sports, traveling, and attending concerts. She has been working in the medical field for 20 years. 

Stephanie Bradley

Originally from Maine, Stephanie moved to Arizona in 2006 and currently lives in Gilbert with her husband and two children.  Stephanie has many years of experience in healthcare and is honored to join the amazing team at Pioneer Sports and Spine.  Stephanie’s job is to field all phone calls, faxes, and emails coming into the office while attempting to make your patient experience as efficient and effective as possible.  Stephanie cares deeply for each individual patient and stands behind Dr. Higgins and his philosophies.

Contact Us

(480) 249-5525



Open Hours

Mon – Fri — 8:00am – 5:00pm
Saturday — Closed
Sunday — Closed

4915 E. Baseline Road Suite 108

Gilbert, AZ 85234

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