James M. Syms PT, DSc


Dr. Syms is a 1987 honors graduate of the California State University at Northridge (CSUN) with a Bachelor of Science degree in Health Science-Physical Therapy Option. In the same year, Dr. Syms received his Certificate in Physical Therapy from the UCLA Medical Center/CSUN Physical Therapy Professional Program. He obtained his Advanced Master degree in Physical Therapy from Loma Linda University (LLU) in 1995 and his Doctor of Science from Loma Linda University in 2005. His doctoral activity investigated the Difference in Transverse Plane Scapular Position in Professional Baseball Players Relative to Field Position. He was awarded the Volunteer Service Award from CSUN in 2010, and from Distinguished Alumni Award LLU in 2011.

In 2014 Dr. Syms received the Charles Magestro Service Award from the California Physical Therapy Association (CPTA). The Charles Magestro award is the second highest award given out by the CPTA. In 2016 Dr. Syms was the eighteenth recipient of the Royce P. Noland Award of Merit which is the highest award bestowed by the state Association. He subsequently delivered the Royce P. Noland  keynote address at the 2017 Chapter Annual Conference.     

He has been instructing in entry-level physical therapist and physical therapist assistant education for twenty-five years, currently holding a full time appointment as an Assistant Professor of Physical Therapy at Loma Linda University in the School of Allied Health Professions. For sixteen of his twenty-five years at Loma Linda University, Dr. Syms served as the Clinical Sciences and the Orthopaedic Tract Curriculum Coordinator. During his professional career, Dr. Syms has held the position of Adjunct Faculty in the School of Behavioral and Applied Sciences at Azusa Pacific University. At Azusa Pacific University, Dr. Syms taught courses in Kinesiology and Biomechanics and Sports Physical Therapy, and was the coordinator of the Sports Physical Therapy pre-professional residency program. He has also served as a guest lecturer/visiting professor at University of the Pacific in Stockton, California; Samuel Merritt College in Oakland, California; Mount St. Mary’s College in Los Angeles; California; University of St. Augustine in San Marcos, California; and at College of the Sequoias in Visalia, California. He has also lectured internationally as a guest lecture/visiting professor at Universidad del Salvador in Buenos Aires, Argentina and at Universidad del Montemoralos; Montemoralos, Monterey, Mexico.

He continues to be active in clinical practice working in outpatient orthopaedic and sports medicine clinical settings, and has served as a physical therapist, certified athletic trainer, and certified strength & conditioning specialist for various high school, collegiate and professional athletes and athletic programs. For twelve years he served in this capacity for Arrowhead Christian Academy varsity and junior varsity football teams and the varsity soccer team.

Dr. Syms academic and clinical research interests include articular and soft tissue biomechanics, arthrokinematic events of the upper extremity with emphasis on the shoulder/shoulder girdle complex in the overhead throwing athlete; and the integration of psychomotor and the cognitive processes of the neurophysiological basis of movement. Additionally he is researching student impression regarding the role of profession advocacy of health care in California.

During his tenure as President of CPTA (2011-2013), the Association was successful in obtaining the passage of legislation (Assembly Bill 1000) that allowed consumers direct access to physical therapy services. He continues to be active in health policy activities of the California legislature.   

He has studied and taught at the national and international levels the various manual therapy techniques incorporating Australian, Norwegian, and Osteopathic techniques into his extensive clinical background to provide a broad-based understanding of manual therapy techniques application. He combines these manual therapy techniques with the principles of movement science and motor skill acquisition for optimal function outcomes.

James received his NATA-BOC certificate in athletic training in 1993, was a certified as a strength and conditioning specialist by the NCSA in 1992, and was board certified as a clinical specialist by the American Board of Physical Therapy Specialties (ABPTS) in Sports Physical Therapy in 1994.


For over eighteen years, Dr. Syms has lectured on the Governance of Physical Therapy in California to a variety of physical therapy profession audiences including eight Entry-level DPT and two entry-level PTA Programs in California. He has served the physical therapy profession at the national, state and local levels as an officer and committee member. He served a three year term on the American Physical Therapy Association’s (APTA) Government Affairs Committee being appointed to the Committee in 2006 by then APTA President Ben Massey. For sixteen years he has represented the California Physical Therapy Association as a Delegate to the APTA House of Delegates. Dr. Syms is the Immediate President of the California Physical Therapy Association (CPTA), serving as President from 2011 to 2013. Dr. Syms has served previously on the CPTA Board holding the position of Director for four years. He has been a CPTA Chapter Delegate to the APTA House of Delegates for thirteen years. He is beginning his twentieth year as a member of the CPTA Government Affairs Committee, serving as committee Chair from 2007-2010 and previously in 2002. He currently is appointed to serve as a Trustee in the CAL-PT-PAC Committee. At the local level he has held elected office in the Inland Counties District (Riverside, San Bernardino, Inyo and Mono Counties) as Chair in 2000, Secretary in 2002, and as the District’s Chief Representative from 2004-2005. He also was an ICD Representative to the Assembly of Representative from 2000-2003. Dr. Syms has served as a Content Expert for the Physical Therapy Board of California (PTBC), writing examination questions for the state board licensing examination on California Laws and Regulations. He is also identified as a Physical Therapy Content Expert by the PTBC. In 2016 he was appointed to the California Veterinarian Medical Board Animal Rehabilitation Task Force as a content expert in Entry-level physical therapy education curriculum. He has an appointment on the Small Business Advisory Committee for Senator Mike Morrell (R-23rd).