Meet the Ironsides, Our Sibling Physical Therapists ​

Siblings Matthew and Elizabeth Ironside of Wisconsin Rapids thought they were destined to work in engineering and marketing respectively; but found themselves with a passion for physical therapy instead. Today, they are both physical therapists with Aspirus Therapies in a building funded in part by the man who helped their grandfather get started in business.

“Working in an Aspirus clinic that was renovated by a donation from Leonard and Lillian Bethke feels like our family history has come full circle,” Elizabeth said.

The late Leonard Bethke first hired the Ironsides’ grandfather Frank as a mechanic in 1936. Frank eventually bought the business when Leonard retired. He built the family legacy through Ironside GMC, which operated until the dealership sold 2015. Matthew and Elizabeth say their grandparents and parents helped shape their core values, which align with Aspirus' values.

“Compassion, accountability, collaboration, foresight, joy — these are values that were instilled in us at home,” Matthew said. “They line up with being a good human, being successful, and having a good life.”

Elizabeth, the oldest by four years, likes to tell people Matthew followed in her footsteps; but both she and Matthew found their desire to work with and help people. "We found that the passion for helping our fellow humans outweighed our initial career paths," she said.

“I sat down in calculus at UW-Madison and left after the first lecture,” Matthew said. “I knew I didn’t want to be stuck in numbers and behind a desk. I like physical therapy — being able to problem-solve with patients, empowering them to feel better.”

Now their professions allow them to contribute directly to the wellbeing of others. Elizabeth specializes in neurologic physical therapy, and Matthew in orthopedics and persistent pain. Through physical therapy, the siblings embrace treatments that push healthcare away from reactive to proactive care, with a focus on wellness. Physical therapy is a non-pharmacological option for a variety of complaints including but not limited to dizziness, headaches, joint pains, and persistent pain.

As for sibling rivalry that may present at home or work, the Ironsides admit that even a simple 5K or card game can turn into a good-natured competition; but both in and out of the clinic, they work well together, often referring patients who might benefit from one another’s specialties.

“We have a healthy relationship,” Elizabeth said. “But I usually inform people, well... he is my brother.”

An example of how the siblings' demonstrate compassion and collaboration outside of work recently occurred on the soccer field. Elizabeth coaches their kids’ soccer team. This means there are often a dozen or more seven-year-olds running around on the sidelines. Matthew jumped in to help direct the kids.

Smiling, he affirmed, “Now that’s compassion.”


Photo: Sibling Physical Therapists Matthew Ironside, PT, DPT, and Elizabeth Ironside, PT, DPT, NCS, Aspirus Therapies in Wisconsin Rapids