Tara EcklundPhysical Therapy Assistant

Tara graduated from OTC’s Physical Therapist Assistant program in 2015, but her experience in pediatrics started in 2005 when her daughter was born with a rare chromosome abnormality. After countless hours spent in therapy around some of the best therapists in SW Missouri, she was inspired to go back to school so she could give back to the community that had given so much to her and her child. 

Tara started as a full time PTA at DST in August of 2020 where she now works along side some of the therapists that inspired her all those years ago. “As soon as DST opened its doors, I dreamed of being here!” Tara treats patients in our clinic and in the pool. “I have always loved the water and its many benefits. My father was in an accident when I was young and became paralyzed. He couldn’t move his body well on land, but he was weightless in the water. I remember the joy he expressed when moving and walking when he was in the water and it’s the same for my patients.” Tara will be completing her certification with the American Hippotherapy Association and is looking forward to having another tool to help her patients reach their goals.  

Tara grew up in Mtn. Grove, Missouri, but has lived in Ozark for over 20 years with her two children, Gunnar and Lilly and their lovable red standard poodle, Flash, who is named after her son’s favorite superhero. For fifteen years Tara was a stay-at-home mom, but was very busy fundraising for her daughter’s therapies. She is pretty famous for her pumpkins rolls. With the help of her mom, sister and many friends, they once made and sold over 600 rolls to buy her daughter a hyperbaric oxygen chamber for their home. “I never let the cost of something stop Lilly from getting the treatments she needed. I believe every child deserves that. God always provided a way and introduced me to people willing to come alongside us to make it happen.” Tara is excited to bring that same fundraising spirit to DST so other children can get the therapies they need to be their best selves. Tara is active in disability groups in her community like Christian County Voice and helped start an online group for local special needs moms called Lleaches where moms’ can connect and ask the hard questions only another SN mom can answer. Tara hopes her life as a special needs mother makes her a better therapist and support for their families as well. In her spare time, Tara enjoys getting outside and doing anything in the water from floating down a lazy river to boating on local lakes. She is looking forward to traveling and experiencing new sites as her children have grown closer to adulthood.