Foundation for Physical Therapy Research Partners with SWORD Health to Support Digital Physical Therapy Research

A new grant mechanism is the result of SWORD Health’s $40,000 donation to the Foundation for Physical Therapy Research. The donation is directed to support a Digital Physical Therapy Research Grant that will be offered for the first time this year. As a platinum member of the Foundation’s Partners in Research program, SWORD plans to contribute $40,000 annually to support research into technology used by physical therapists. The application and peer review process will be administered by the Foundation with the Board of Trustees making funding decisions.

Program objectives

 The purpose of the Foundation’s research grant program is to fund research studies in specified areas initiated by emerging and established investigators. The intent of this grant is to fund the highest quality scientifically rigorous digital physical therapy research, with priority given to projects having the most immediate application.

The Digital Physical Therapy Research Grant will be awarded to research projects that evaluate, assess, or develop treatment plans to address patient needs or conditions using digital products or technology. Any practice setting or patient population relevant to physical therapy can be considered. Examples could include, but are not limited to, using digital products or technology to: conduct telehealth visits, perform remote therapeutic monitoring (RTM), monitor patients’ status, develop treatment plans, treat illness or injury, or facilitate health and wellness.

Grants will be made available during the normal award cycle with calls for applicants in the Spring and awards made by year-end. Applications will be reviewed and scored by the Foundation’s Scientific Review Committee. The Foundation’s Board of Trustees makes all funding decisions.

Partners in research

This partnership will enable the Foundation, as the national leader for funding physical therapy research, to better support physical therapists (PTs) and physical therapist assistants (PTAs) who are increasingly using innovative digital technologies such as mobile apps and telehealth to improve care delivery to optimize patient outcomes.

“This important partnership will help the Foundation continue to fund groundbreaking research and help our profession better understand the role of digital health technologies in physical therapy,” says Paul Rockar, PT, DPT, MS, FAPTA, President of the Foundation. “There is so much potential for technology to augment a physical therapist’s practice, but technology alone cannot be called physical therapy. The Foundation maintains that ‘physical therapy,’ whether provided in person or virtually, is performed or directed expressly by licensed physical therapists.”

The Foundation recognizes the use of digital platforms in physical therapy isn’t the stuff of the future; it’s part of the here-and-now, so it is critically important to understand the role of digital health in physical therapy care. A recent APTA foundational paper aimed to provide the profession with an overview of what digital health technologies are, the industry that drives them, current applications, and future opportunities. Digital technologies can enable clinicians to expand their reach, improve access to their services, and deliver critical data on patient progress and outcomes, driving improvements in care. APTA maintains, however, that these tools cannot replace the value or role of the physical therapist or physical therapist assistant.

To learn more about the Foundation’s grant cycle process please visit our website.


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