There Is No Cookie Cutter Approach To Wellness!​

What works for one person will not necessarily work for another. Donna hopes to help as many people as possible find their unique paths to health and well-being. What will yours be?


Meet Donna

academy-neurologic-member (2)

Donna Schmidt

Health & Wellness Coach and Physical Therapist

  • National Board Certified Health and Wellness Coach through the National Board of Medical Examiners
  • Certified Integrative Health Coach through Duke Integrative Medicine
  • BS in Health Sciences, Boston University, 1999
  • MS in Physical Therapy, Boston University, 2001
  • Competency in Vestibular Rehabilitation through Emory University and the American Physical Therapy Association, 2009
  • Participating in Penn Medicine Balance Center since 2009
  • Board Certified Neurologic Clinical Specialist (NCS) through the American Board of Physical Therapy Specialties (ABPTS), 2015
  • Certified in LSVT BIG for people with Parkinson's Disease, 2014
  • Member of the Academy of Neurologic Physical Therapy and the American Physical Therapy Association
  • Previously a Multiple Sclerosis Certified Specialist (MSCS) and MS Partner in Care with the National MS Society

As a healthcare professional, I have cared for thousands of people, many of whom have had complex medical issues.  Over the years, I've received praise from patients, clients and colleagues for my attentive care and successful outcomes.

​As a physical therapist, I have been asking people to change their health behaviors for almost two decades.  I’ve had thousands of patients who want results - to walk better, be stronger, be able to get out of the house, to work and play.  These are basic human functions that many of us take for granted. So, of course, motivation to meet these goals is often high, but motivation alone is not enough to establish habits that achieve goals.  

I provide my patients with tailored expert instruction on how to improve their functional mobility, and educate them on activities and exercises that will help.  I provide support and accountability.  But all this external effort on my part, does not mean that life will change for my clients after a month or two of PT.  

No matter how much we want it, changing our behaviors is very difficult, and having someone tell us what to do, does not make it any easier (sometimes it makes us even less likely to do it).  

I wondered how I could provide care to my patients that would better serve them in the long run.  What would help them take more realistic, meaningful steps toward their goals, and stick with it? Health Coaching kept coming up.  I had heard some of my colleagues were successfully using Health Coaching with people with chronic neurological diseases. The more I learned about it, the more I understood why and what I had been missing.

Behavior or lifestyle change is a practice in and of itself.  It requires time and intentional cultivation, a combination of motivation and confidence, alignment with what matters most to us (values), building on our strengths and small successes.  As a Health Coach, I’ve enjoyed seeing clients make sustainable changes that really work for them. I’ve also been able to incorporate my coaching skills into my PT practice resulting in an enhanced experience for my patients.  I am grateful for the perspective provided by my experience, and for the opportunity to change myself!

When Health Coaching, I love working with anyone who is sincerely interested in making lifestyle changes to improve their health and well-being.  However, because of my personal and professional experience, I have a special interest in health coaching the following populations:

people who provide care to others (e.g. healthcare workers, social service workers, caregivers, etc.)

people who work in construction and trades

people with chronic illness and pain (including Multiple Sclerosis and dizziness)

All things in moderation... even moderation.

Casper J. Pelligrini


Casper J. Pelligrini

Learn about Casper

CJP Health & Well-Being is named for Donna’s grandfather Casper J. Pelligrini, who worked as a plumber until he was 75, and lived to one month shy of his 107th birthday.  He found his own unique ways to live a full, healthy life, and has inspired Donna in her own journey.

  • washing dishes daily in warm water to prevent arthritis in his hands

  • eating oatmeal cookies for breakfast every day for the oat bran 

  • putting two cloves of garlic in every meal to keep his blood pressure low

  • swimming laps in the pool (even after a hip replacement in his mid 90s)

  • reading the newspaper (Philadelphia Inquirer) every day to keep his mind sharp

  • traveling regularly to keep close contact with friends and family

Health Equity Statement

I am committed to providing an inclusive and welcoming environment and high quality care for all clients and stakeholders.  I stand against racial oppression and injustice, and strive to be anti-racist in my conduct.  I do not discriminate against potential clients on the basis of any personal characteristics.  If I fall short in upholding these standards, please bring it to my attention, so that I can do better.

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