Staff and interns from the Foundation for Physical Therapy were welcomed by the faculty and students of The George Washington University (GW) School of Medicine and Health Sciences (SMHS) Physical Therapy Program and Department of Clinical Research and Leadership in Washington, D.C., earlier this week. David Scalzitti, PT, PhD, provided a tour of the facility and prepared an itinerary for the day that included an overview of GW’s research initiatives including clinical interventions for select populations, the scholarship of teaching and learning, and Health Sciences research. Foundation staff and interns also had the opportunity to visit GW’s Biomechanics and Clinical Exercise Physiology Laboratories.
Ken Harwood, PT, PhD, began the visit with an informative presentation about his research into physical therapy, health care costs, and opioid use. A study coauthored by Harwood and recently published in the journal Health Services Research was originally designed to look at the effect of direct access to physical therapy on health care cost and utilization for individuals with low back pain. Among the findings, the team discovered a significant low probability of opioid use in patients who saw a physical therapist before trying other treatments. This research has garnered significant attention as the U.S. healthcare system looks to address both opioid use and soaring costs in health care and as the physical therapy profession seeks to build an evidence-base for the value of physical therapy services. Harwood is the 2018 recipient of the Foundation’s Health Services Research Pipeline Grant which has partially funded this research, and anticipates completion of the work in March of 2019.
Paige McDonald, EdD, and Mary Corcoran, PhD, provided an overview of the GW Collaboratory, an initiative to study healthcare learning systems from an academic perspective and foster continuous improvement and innovation. Foundation staff also engaged with the Instructional Media and Programming to Advance Collaboration and Teaching (IMPACT) team to discuss GW’s technology and multimedia projects.
GW PT students met with Foundation staff to learn more about the Foundation’s grants, awards, and scholarship programs and discuss the upcoming Marquette Challenge. Foundation staff member Emil Trinidad joined Katherine DeLara, SPT, of Marquette University, and Kerry Shutt from Salisbury University – the Foundation’s summer interns – in suggesting ways for physical therapy students to get involved with the work of the Foundation and have a successful and fun Challenge year.
Keith Cole, DPT, PhD, demonstrated some of the tools he uses in the Biomechanics lab. Cole’s research focus includes virtual reality tools to quantify dose of vestibular rehabilitation and the effects of cognitive-motor training on mobility, dual-task walking, cognition, and central functional connectivity. Cognizant of costs associated with possible future practice interventions, much of Cole’s research incorporates relatively inexpensive and commercially available tools.
The day’s activities concluded with a tour of the Clinical Exercise Physiology lab led by Josh Woolstenhulme, DPT, PhD. Woolstenhulme’s research focus is on the safety and efficacy of rehabilitative exercise training in rare diseases and cardiorespiratory mechanisms mediating fatigue in select health conditions including pulmonary arterial hypertension, interstitial lung diseases, and inflammatory myopathies.
Staff from the Foundation periodically tour nearby physical therapy research facilities to learn more about current trends, practices, and programs. Other recent visits include a tour of Virginia Commonwealth University and the University of Delaware.
(Photos courtesy of GW Biomedical Communications, Sarah Miknis)