Emory DPT Faculty, Alumni, and Students Provide PT Services in Rural Jamaica


“Wah gwaan mi friends?” (What is going on my friends?) was a common Patois refrain heard by the Emory DPT contingent that traveled in March to Ridge, Jamaica.  Unlike coastal beach towns for which Jamaica is famous, this rural community is located in the beautiful mountains of St. Elizabeth Parish.  Known as “the breadbasket of Jamaica”, this vast area has a population of approximately 150,000 persons, but is lacking in medical care that can be found in larger cities.  The trip was a service component of an Advanced Neurorehabilitation elective taught by Dr. Tami Phillips.  Joining Dr. Phillips as clinical instructors for 8 students were alumni, Dr. Anna Fidler Stromquist (’09), Dr. Brian Maloney (’11) and Dr. Sarah Caston (’11).

The students spent a week working at a clinic that has been operated by an American, Dr. Brooke Riley, since the Fall of 2004.  An Arcadia University graduate, Dr. Riley felt a personal calling to provide physical therapy in this underserved area, where there are only 2 other PTs.  Dr. Riley is assisted in her efforts by volunteers that arrive periodically for a week or two at a time.  For the past 2 years, she has had the good fortune to have Dr. Jennie Brennan, another Arcadia alumnus, volunteer her time and talent.


Hypertension is a common and poorly managed healthcare issue in the West Indies.  As a result, there are many individuals of all ages who have survived having a stroke.  In an attempt to provide intensive physical therapy for her clients, Dr. Riley has partnered with Arcadia University, Washington University, and now Emory University to offer “stroke camps.”  The week-long “stroke camp” is an opportunity for 8-10 stroke survivors to participate in 5 full days of PT services including therapeutic exercise, gait and balance training, and interventions for the upper extremities.  Students work with their clinical instructors to design an individualized plan of care based on the results of outcome measures collected the first morning.  These same measures are repeated on the last day of the camp to document individual progress.  Treatment sessions may be conducted individually, in pairs, or in small groups.


The camaraderie between the clients, students, and therapists was evident from the first day.  The week passed all too quickly and when it was time to say good-bye, more had been accomplished than just therapy.  Visible was the demonstration of mutual respect and improved understanding of 2 very different cultures, along with a newfound admiration not only for the dedication of the physical therapy team, but the perseverance and positive outlook of the Jamaican people.



Welcome Back Party

Welcome Back DPT Class of 2013! The Class of 2013 was welcomed back with enthusiasm and excitement at a “cook-out” styled celebration as they returned from their long-term clinical rotations. These students return after having completed three (3) ten-week clinical rotations in an acute care setting, a rehabilitation setting and a community setting. The students come back in their 3rd and final year of the program where they will take elective courses and do research projects with a faculty mentor.

The celebration is held to welcome the students back to campus as they head toward completion of their pursuit of becoming Doctors of Physical Therapy.

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Two Emory DPT Alums Chosen As “Emerging Leaders” Of Our Profession

The Emory DPT Program is proud to announce that two Emory alums, Meg Jacobs, ’09DPT and Jeff Ryg, ’06DPT have made the list of 21 physical therapists chosen by APTA as “Emerging Leaders” of our profession. See more here.

Our mission states “The Division of Physical Therapy is committed to the development of pro-active, ethically-engaged, caring leadership….”

Thus, we can all be proud and celebrate this recognition of our alums as an indication, among others, of how we are accomplishing this mission.

Fall 2012 Extension Newsletter

The latest edition of alumni newsletter, Extension, is now available here.

Emory Physical Therapy Phonathon 2012

Emory Physical Therapy Phonathon on Monday, October 29 to raise money for the Emory Physical Therapy Scholarship Fund. Please donate and help us achieve our goal of 100% alumni and faculty participation!

Dear Alumnus,

As I reflect on our program, I am proud of the many years of physical therapy education we have provided leading to an outstanding community of over 900 alumni. Our faculty dedication to excellence in teaching and research is reflected in our high national ranking, which increased this year to seventh in the nation by the U.S. News and World Report rankings. We could not achieve this status without the quality students who come to Emory and graduate with a lifelong bond to our program.

Each year, the price of an Emory physical therapy education rises. Current students graduate with an average of $124,355 in debt (based on 2012 data). We are working to establish a scholarship fund where we can assist students with this burden and offer scholarships based on merit and/or need. We lose some of the highest qualified candidates each year to competitor programs that offer these scholarships. Thus, it is critical that we increase our scholarship offerings if we are to compete for these candidates.

Our annual DPT Scholarship Phonathon is scheduled on Monday, October 29. Current Emory DPT students will call you and appeal for your support of our program. I hope this phonathon will also serve as an opportunity to strengthen the bonds between our current and former students and to build a stronger relationship between the Emory physical therapy program and its alumni.

The average alumni participation rate for giving in 2011-2012 was 7% (though up from 5% the previous year). We have established a goal of 100% participation for the 2012-2013 scholarship campaign. We are hoping every alumnus will participate in some way. The faculty also has committed to 100% participation this year to demonstrate strong support for the establishment of the DPT Scholarship Fund.

Please join us in reaching our goal of having alumni and faculty at 100% participation!

Any gift amount is welcomed and greatly appreciated. Please provide your continued support so we can extend the opportunity for training at Emory to future generations of outstanding physical therapists.

Many Thanks,

Zoher Kapasi, PT, PhD, MBA
Doctor of Physical Therapy Program
Emory University

Dr. Trisha Kesar was awarded a research grant award by the American Heart Association


Dr. Trisha Kesar was awarded a research grant award by the American Heart Association (AHA). Dr. Kesar is the recipient of a Scientist Development Grant, which provides $77000 per year of funding for 4-years. As part of this grant, Dr. Kesar will characterize the time course of biomechanical and neural processes underlying post-stroke gait rehabilitation.

Dr. Kesar’s research project will use a novel post-stroke gait retraining intervention (combining fast treadmill ambulation and functional electrical stimulation) to test fundamental yet hitherto unaddressed hypotheses pertaining to time course of changes during post-stroke gait retraining. The innovation of this proposal is the concurrent evaluation of biomechanical (e.g. paretic propulsion, swing phase knee flexion), neuroplasticity (TMS-derived measures of corticomotor excitability), and functional (walking speed and endurance) processes influencing gait throughout a 6-week gait retraining program. Insights into time courses and neural mechanisms underlying post-stroke gait rehabilitation can impact clinical practice by aiding with the development of effective, individualized strategies to maximize the benefits of gait rehabilitation.

Promotion Announcement for Dr. Marie Johanson


The Emory Doctor of Physical Therapy Program is pleased to announce that Dr. Marie Johanson has been promoted to the rank of Associate Professor, effective September 1, 2012.

This promotion signifies the national recognition that Marie has achieved among her peers through her outstanding contributions in teaching, scholarship and service.

This promotion is also recognition of the stature of our program, department and its faculty within the Emory School of Medicine.

We extend our heartiest congratulations to Marie as we celebrate with her this well-deserved accomplishment.

Emory DPT Faculty and Students Travel to the Dominican Republic


During the week of March 11-17th, eight students accompanied Dr. Sara Pullen and Dr. Durga Shah to San Francisco de Macoris, Dominican Republic. This first-time Service Learning trip consisted of daily workshops for local medical personnel on a variety of topics pertaining to physical therapy (orthopedic and neurological trauma, neurological rehabilitation for stroke and spinal cord injury, pediatric and NICU interventions, and women’s health), home visits and learning about the culture and history of the Dominican Republic. All week, students worked diligently from sunup until late into the evening and learned an immeasurable amount about providing physical therapy and public health interventions in a developing country with little to no resources. We formed lasting partnerships and collaborations with Dominican partners, with mutual cross-cultural dialogue and learning throughout the week. The yearly Dominican Republic trip promises to be an essential part of the Emory DPT Service Learning program.

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Emory University Alumni Reception


Dear Emory Physical Therapy Alumni,

You are cordially invited to attend the Emory University Alumni Reception during the APTA Combined Sections Meeting at the Chicago Hilton on February 10th in the Grand Traditional Room from 6:30pm – 8:30pm.

We look forward to seeing you there.

Emory DPT Student and Faculty Research Article Accepted for Publication

The article The EXCITE Trial: Analysis of “Noncompleted” Wolf Motor Function Test Items appears in Volume 26 Issue 2 February 2012 pp. 178 – 187 of the journal Neurorehabilitation and Neural Repair, the highest impact journal in neurorehabilitation in the world.  2011 Emory DPT graduates Timothy Lonergan, Emily Estes, Rozina Merchant and Natasha Richardson participated in the project guided by senior author and associate faculty member Steve Wolf. The article addressed a specific outcome measure, the Wolf Motor Function Test (WMFT), for the EXtremity Constraint Induced Movement  Evaluation (EXCITE) Trial and specifically the number of timed tasks that could NOT be completed following the delivery of constraint induced movement therapy (CIMT) compared to a usual and customary care group. The sample size included 222 participants, 3-9 months post-stroke, located at 8 sites throughout the country. This paper addressed changes in completed WMFT tasks before and after a two week period over which CIMT was provided to the immediate group (CIMT-I). This group showed a highly statistically significant increase in the number of tasks that could be completed following CIMT. Moreover the greatest improvements occurred in performance of the more complex, multi-joint tasks. A preliminary evaluation of the kinematics underlying all these tasks led to the suggestion that perhaps more time should be spent in carefully engaging in task training that necessitate greater active range of motion in more proximal joints.