Foundation for Physical Therapy Research Funds 5 Grants and First-Ever Goergeny High-Impact Research Award

Investments in the profession help identify the best qualified researchers and fund critically needed physical therapy research projects.

ALEXANDRIA, VA (December 6, 2019) The Foundation for Physical Therapy Research (FPTR) announced 6 physical therapy research grants today. The grants total $620,000 and include two years of funding for high-impact research. The awards will help us learn more about the efficacy of physical therapy practices, pioneer breakthrough treatments, and build the evidence-base to define the value of our profession.

Of the 6 grants, the Goergeny High-Impact Research Grant was awarded thanks to a $1.58 million bequest from Magdalen and Emil Goergeny. This high-impact, high-priority grant will focus on the role of physical therapy in the prevention of secondary health conditions, impairments of body structures and functions, activity limitations, or participation restrictions.

The first investigator to receive this award is Smita Rao, PT, PhD, New York University. Rao will receive $240,000 over the next two years, with the option of a 3rd year $120,000 renewal based on her progress. Rao’s study is titled “Targeting hyaluronan accumulation through exercise in T2DM.” It will investigate the effects of exercise on hyaluronan accumulation in people with Type 2 diabetes, as well as, muscle stiffness, strength, ankle joint mobility, and physical function.

“FPTR grants help strengthen the profession and elevate research in physical therapy,” said Foundation Board of Trustees President Edelle Field-Fote, PT, PhD, FAPTA. “With the help of our community of donors, we continue to fund top researchers and the most promising science in the field of physical therapy. Each project has the potential to improve outcomes for the patients we serve as physical therapists.”

Currently, FPTR has funded over 500 physical therapist researchers that have amassed more than $800 million in external funding.

The 2019 Research Grant recipients include:

  • Saurabh Mehta, PT, MSc, PhD, Marshall University: Mehta was awarded the $40,000 2019 VCU-Marquette Challenge Research Grant. The project “A Pilot Randomized Controlled Trial to Assess the Implementation and Outcomes of GLA:D Program in West Virginians Suffering from the Osteoarthritis of the Knee,” will examine the feasibility, acceptability, and preliminary outcomes of an evidence-based program (developed by physical therapists in Denmark) of people with osteoarthritis in the knee. The VCU-Marquette Challenge Research Grant is named in honor of the annual student-led fundraiser, the Marquette Challenge. This project is funded by the Supporting the Profession Fund, made possible through the generosity of the American Physical Therapy Association (APTA) and the Legacy Research Fund.
  • Jason Falvey, DPT, PhD, Yale University: Falvey was awarded the $40,000 Health Services Research Pipeline Grant. His project, “Impact of Rehabilitation on Functional Recovery and Readmissions for Older ICU Survivors,” will be the first to comprehensively evaluate variability in-home and community-based rehabilitation delivery to older intensive care unit survivors. This project will also look at the impact rehabilitation will have on functional outcomes and hospital readmissions. This grant is made possible by a generous donation from the American Physical Therapy Association.
  • Cristine Agresta, MPT, PhD, University of Washington: Agresta was awarded the $100,000 Magistro Family Foundation Research Grant. Her project is titled, “The Effectiveness of Blood Flow Restriction to Increase Function Following Anterior Cruciate Ligament Reconstruction: A Pilot Randomized Controlled Trial.” She will assess the effectiveness of personalized blood flow restriction against current standard rehabilitation procedures after anterior cruciate ligament reconstruction surgery. This grant is funded by the Magistro Endowment Fund and Legacy Research Fund.
  • Alyssa LaForme Fiss, MPT, PhD, Mercer University: LaForme Fiss was awarded the $40,000 Pediatric Research Grant for her project titled, “Estimation of Intervention Effectiveness to Improve Adaptive Behavior in Infants With Cerebral Palsy.” Her goal is to determine the effects of adaptive behavior physical therapy intervention delivered, in addition to traditional physical or occupational therapy services for families with infants diagnosed with or at high risk for CP. This grant is supported by the Pediatric Research Fund and the generosity of the Academy of Pediatric Physical Therapy.
  • Aliza Rudavsky, DPT, PhD, Pennsylvania State University: Rudavsky was awarded the $40,000 Pelvic Health Research Grant, for her project, “Concurrent Validity of Novel Transabdominal Pelvic Floor Ultrasound during Glottis Tasks.” Rudavsky plans on testing a new method of measuring transabdominal ultrasound imaging and comparing it to the gold standard transperineal method. This award is supported by the Academy of Pelvic Health Physical Therapy. 

About FPTR: The Foundation for Physical Therapy Research, formerly known as the Foundation for Physical Therapy, is celebrating forty years of funding research and researchers. Founded in 1979, the Foundation has awarded more than $17 million in grants, fellowships, and scholarships for promising physical therapy research and researchers. Learn more about the Foundation’s investments in the physical therapy profession at


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