Skip to main content

Apr 25, 2023

Humor and Making Better Lives: Never a dull therapy moment with Tom and Jerry


What a show.

Scheduling conflicts recently forced Tom Staats, 56, and Jerry Koppe, 61, to move their therapy sessions from Monday, Wednesday and Friday, to Tuesday and Thursday.

The duo, Muscatine, Iowa, natives and friends for four-plus decades, put on such a colorful display for Tuesday and Thursday patients at Rock Valley Physical Therapy’s Cedarwood Clinic (Muscatine, Iowa), that a bevy of patients asked to have their therapy times moved to accompany Tom and Jerry’s schedule.

“That’s true,’’ Ashley Ravenscraft, PTA, said of the two funny men, who playfully and comically engage with everyone – patients, therapists and staff – at the Cedarwood clinic. “The Tuesday and Thursday patients wanted to switch to Monday, Wednesday and Friday when they found out Tom and Jerry are in on those days. It’s a show, but it’s a good show everyone loves. It’s great for all involved.’’

Playful humor aside, it must be noted, Tom and Jerry were struggling mightily before their friend of 40 years, Rock Valley’s Steve Wieskamp, PT, CEAS, Vice-President/Business Development, stepped in.

For decades, Tom and Jerry coached youth baseball in Muscatine and also ran a hugely popular diner that first waved under the banner of “Big Ten Tacos.’’

“A popular hangout with all the high school athletes,’’ Wieskamp said of the diner, saying “Big Ten Tacos’’ would remind us of the diner “Arnold’s’’ from the legendary sitcom “Happy Days,’’ but minus the “Fonz.’’

“Tom and Jerry were my baseball coaches ages 13-15,’’ added Wieskamp. “They were a staple in the lives of many people for many years. They left Muscatine about 20 years ago and moved to Florida to train greyhounds. When the state of Florida shut down dog racing they moved back to Muscatine.’’

In the spring of 2022, before leaving Florida, Jerry experienced severe distress caused by a urinary tract infection. Vital organs began to shut down and heart and lung issues led to a three-month hospital stay and 12 days in a coma.

“Because of great doctors and the power of prayer – an entire prayer circle around me – I survived,’’ Jerry said during one of two serious moments in their 55-minute therapy session. “I had to come back to Muscatine in a transport van with my lifeline. It took three days.’’

The other less than light-hearted moment came when Jerry said he was confronted by his dear friend Wieskamp upon his return to Muscatine.

“I had oxygen and I was walking with a walker,’’ Jerry said. “We were at dinner and he came up to me and in a stern voice told me to get my primary (physician) to give me a referral to physical therapy and he – and everyone else here – would help get us better. I’m alive because of Steve stepping in and all the great things Ashley does to help us. “Princess (Ravenscraft), is amazing.’’

Humor aside, the health struggles of both men have been met head on by Wieskamp, Ravenscraft, the front office staff and every other Cedarwood therapist and support staff member.

“My cardiologist will tell you I’m alive because of physical therapy,’’  Jerry said.

“So many things I have had to deal with,’’ Koppe said. “I’d be lost without therapy.’’

Strides made for both men, though, have been done with humor, tons of light-hearted banter, support from other patients and all who clamor to be part of the two-man, “Tom and Jerry Comedy Hour.’’

Scheduled every Monday, Wednesday and Friday at 8:20 a.m., the pair arrive – like clockwork – at 7:40 to entertain.

“Instead of asking Jerry what he had for dinner last night, just look at his shirt and you can tell,’’ Tom said to anyone listening. “Is that salsa, Jerry? And you guys pamper him,’’ Tom added,  talking specifically to Ravenscraft and Cedarwood’s Scott Morel, Performance Enhancement Specialist.

Jerry countered:

“We’d like to be able to see Tom today, but him wearing a light blue shirt that makes it look like the big ol’ ocean is sitting over there,’’ he countered. “And he didn’t do all his (cardio-enhancing) laps. He never does what you guys ask of him. Truthfully, he’s cheating.’’

By: Johnny Marx