Meet the Team

Sakina Valika, P.T., D.P.T.

Clinical Director

Sakina graduated from Northern Illinois University with a Bachelor of Science in Physical Therapy in 1999.  Following graduation, she worked at Advocate Christ Hospital Medical Center as a practicing clinical physical therapist. The majority of her practice at that time centered on individuals with a variety of neurological conditions.   She worked in both inpatient and outpatient rehabilitation.  In 2001, she joined the Rehabilitation Institute of St. Louis and began a sub specialization in treating individuals with traumatic spinal cord injuries.

Her postgraduate training includes a clinical doctorate in physical therapy with a focus on neuro-rehabilitation obtained in 2007 from Rosalind Franklin University and several intermediate and advanced courses in locomotor training, FES cycling, whole body vibration and aquatic rehabilitation. She is certified in gait training individuals with quadriplegia and paraplegia with the ReWalk exoskeleton. Sakina is also a Certified Clinical Instructor Affiliate (CCCE/CI) through the American Physical Therapy Association. She is an educator for the Wayne State University Physical Therapy doctoral program in Detroit, Michigan, as well as other universities and colleges that have Physical Therapy Assistant programs in Illinois. Sakina’s clinical expertise lies in Advanced Locomotor Training for individuals with spinal cord injuries and in using a concomitant of novel approaches to maximize neuromuscular recovery in individuals suffering from paralysis.  She has presented seminars in Activity Based Rehabilitation because of her unique expertise in this area.

Meg Burke, B.S.

Director of Operations

Meg Burke is a veteran NextSteps team member who accepted a position of assisting founding director Jon E. O’Connor with his business enterprises in 2004. What started as part-time slowly turned into a nine year mentorship and friendship with a truly inspiring individual.  In August of 2013, she accepted the position of Director of Operations to carry on Jon’s mission while drawing from her vast array of work experiences.

With an undergraduate focus on molecular genetics and immunology, she earned a Bachelor’s of Science, Biology Honors from Loyola University in 1987. She spent seven years at the National University for Health Sciences as the lead lab technician with the department of research investigating the efficacy of chiropractic treatment and its impact on the immune system. In addition, she assisted with the development and administration of clinical trials, research for National Institute of Health grant applications, and implementation of problem-based learning methodology within small group discussions for literature review of current research.

Tomas Dockus, M.S.

Senior Neuro Exercise Specialist

Tomas graduated from the Lithuanian Academy of Physical Education with a Master’s degree in Physical Education and Exercise in 1999. While working on his Master’s, Tomas worked at World Class Fitness in Kaunas, Lithuania as a personal trainer. It was at this facility that he gained experience designing exercise programs for both the general population and professional athletes. After Tomas and his family moved to the United States in 2002, he worked as a personal trainer for the Orland Park Life Time Fitness center. In June of 2004, he joined the NextSteps team and under the tutelage of Jon O’Connor, helped create and implement an aggressive locomotor training program for people living with paralysis.

Shannon Witte, CIFT

Neuro Exercise Specialist

Shannon graduated from Youngstown State University in 2015 with a Bachelors of science degree in Exercise Science. During her undergraduate studies, she worked as a personal trainer and group exercise instructor which helped prepare her for her senior internship at Next Steps in August 2015.

She officially joined the Next Steps team in December 2015 as an aide but quickly transitioned to an exercise therapist. Shannon is passionate about working with people with spinal cord and other neurological injuries to have a better quality of life. Working at Next Steps has inspired her to continue her education in the field, as she has plans to apply to Physical Therapy school. Shannon is a Certified Personal Trainer and Certified Inclusive Fitness Trainer through ACSM.


Creighton Goss, CIFT

Neuro Fitness Specialist

Creighton graduated from Benedictine University in 2014 with a Bachelors degree in Exercise and Sports Studies. Creighton is certified through ACSM as a Certified Inclusive Fitness Trainer. He started as an aide in 2015 and quickly moved up to becoming an exercise therapist.

Creighton comes from a very unique background as he has been around spinal cord injuries since 2010. Creighton's dad has been his inspiration to become a trainer and help others who have neurological disabilities as his dad is a paraplegic. Creighton is always passionate about providing the best care to his abilities and interacting with everyone who has questions about neurological disabilities.


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    8434 S. Corcoran Rd.
    Willow Springs, IL 60480
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Reeve Foundation

  • NextSteps Chicago is a member of the Christopher and Dana Reeve Foundation Neuro Recovery Network.

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