Clinical rehabilitations scientists with the formal research training to bring multidisciplinary research approaches to answer important questions related to rehabilitation are scarce. The goal of this pre-doctoral training program is to continue to improve the quality and quantity of individuals who will contribute to the knowledge and evidence that drives best practice in physical rehabilitation. This successful and innovative training program, coordinated through the Department of Physical Therapy, has had 10 years of previous funding. All of its PT/PhD graduates are in academic research positions. Of the nine graduates of this program, one was just promoted to the rank of Associate Professor with tenure, six hold tenure track faculty positions, and two are in outstanding post-doctoral positions. The graduates have competed successfully for NIH grants, have won national awards, and continue to make important contributions to the rehabilitation literature. The program fuses two independent training programs: an outstanding entry level Doctorate in Physical Therapy (DPT) and a very successful interdisciplinary PhD program in Biomechanics and Movement Science. The program is analogous to the MD/PhD programs that train medical scientists. By helping to reduce the often sizable debt incurred during the DPT training program, trainees are able to delay the opportunity to earn the salaries that clinicians enjoy and move directly into the PhD program. Students in the program become both physical therapists and rehabilitation research scientists. Trainees are selected from a pool of outstanding students with diverse undergraduate backgrounds who enter the DPT program. Many of these students express an interest in research before admission to the program. This training program attracts the best and brightest individuals with a sincere interest in physical rehabilitation research and tracks them early in their training into research careers. The need is enormous. Both new and established academic physical therapy programs need doctorally trained individuals for teaching and research positions. Graduates of this training program are ideal faculty members who foster excellence in rehabilitation research.

Public Health Relevance

This very successful and innovative training program fuses two independent training programs, a professional Doctorate in Physical Therapy (DPT) and the PhD in Biomechanics and Movement Sciences. The goal of this training program is to train students with the greatest potential to become outstanding research scientists in the field of physical rehabilitation.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health & Human Development (NICHD)
Institutional National Research Service Award (T32)
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Pediatrics Subcommittee (CHHD)
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Nitkin, Ralph M
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University of Delaware
Other Health Professions
Schools of Allied Health Profes
United States
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Awad, Louis N; Reisman, Darcy S; Pohlig, Ryan T et al. (2016) Identifying candidates for targeted gait rehabilitation after stroke: better prediction through biomechanics-informed characterization. J Neuroeng Rehabil 13:84
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