Educating Physical Therapists
At the American Physical Therapy Association annual conference in February, a group of professionals from MossRehab’s Drucker Brain Injury Center shared their expertise with a packed crowd of physical therapists. Clinical Director Thomas Watanabe, MD, along with neurposychologist Claire McGrath, PhD, and physical therapists Carolyn Tassini, PT, and Andrew Packel, PT, delivered a four-hour lecture entitled “Evaluation and Treatment Strategies for the Hospitalized Patient with Severe Brain Injury.” The lecture covered different aspects of caring for patients with brain injury in the acute setting, including managing complications associated with brain injury. Among the topics discussed were how to assess cognitive function, medical problems that might arise and the role of therapy, neurological complications and specific therapy interventions, and recent developments for promoting recovery, including medications and spasticity management.
Preparing Physician Scientists
Despite the documented importance of physician scientists in healthcare research, they are in short supply in recent years, especially in the field of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation. In 1995, MossRehab’s John Whyte, MD, PhD, was instrumental in founding the Rehabilitation Medicine Scientist Training Program (RMSTP), a program aimed at increasing the number of research-productive physiatrists by helping them obtain the research training needed to secure extramural funding. Originally funded by a K12 grant from the NIH, the program’s structure was revised in 2001 to improve the preparedness of incoming trainees and to provide a stronger support network of mentors. In March 2009, Dr. Whyte and colleagues published an overview of the original and revised programs, and presented data that suggested program graduates have been generally successful in obtaining faculty positions, and that their productivity has increased since the program’s revision. Specifically, trainees under the revised program had published more papers, received more grants and significantly more grant dollars—nearly $500,000 by their fifth year in the program—compared to trainees under the original program.
“Despite these apparent successes of the RMSTP the need for a program of this type continues,” Dr. Whyte and his colleagues concluded. “Even if the current cohort of trainees were uniformly successful, this would amount to less than one such research faculty member for every four PM&R departments nationwide. This, coupled with the projected growing need for rehabilitation services by an aging population, demonstrates the need for a program like the RMSTP for many years to come.”