This story is featured in the Spring 2019 edition of the HPU Magazine. Discover below how HPU’s Congdon School of Health Sciences prepares students for a future in healthcare.
When Erika Klein was searching for the best university to pursue physical therapy, she quickly learned HPU’s Congdon School of Health Sciences was the place.
Klein remembers her admissions interview and asking Dr. Dora Gosselin, a pediatric physical therapist and the director of Clinical Education, “What made you want to become a physical therapist?”
“It’s exciting to work with children,” said Gosselin as she picked up a paper clip. “Through simple activities that involve something as common as a paper clip, we can design exercises that improve their life.”
Klein knew physical therapy studies would be strenuous, but she quickly discovered that HPU’s student-centered learning would help her along the way.
Today, Klein is a second-year physical therapy doctoral candidate. Her first year felt like she was already a certified physical therapist because of the clinical work students provide in the community at places like Camp High Five.
Camp High Five is a summer camp for children who have hemiplegia, in which one side of the body has less movement and function. Through play, the students work individually with each child to help improve the child’s abilities.
“It’s challenging,” said Klein. “You have to keep that energy up for eight hours a day, and you can’t do the same thing you did 20 minutes ago. Creativity is key. Working with these children challenged me every day, but this is why I’m drawn to pediatrics.”
Meghan Patton, a second-year physical therapy student, also worked at Camp High Five. Patton completed her undergraduate studies at HPU in exercise science. Her dream is to become a pediatric physical therapist just like Gosselin.
“Dr. Gosselin is an incredible clinician, and to watch her treat these children teaches us so much,” says Patton. “She allows us to be problem solvers. That has allowed our research to become something bigger than we imagined.”
Patton and Klein are part of Gosselin’s group of students who are researching how children, with and without cerebral palsy, respond to unpredictability while walking. This could provide better treatments to help children with cerebral palsy cope with unpredictability.
They conduct their research in HPU’s state-of-the-art Human Biomechanics and Physiology Lab.
“Our biomechanics lab allows us to conduct sports medicine and orthopedic research, so having a bunch of children in the lab during our research sessions has expanded all of the things we can do in the lab,” said Gosselin.
Not only has the biomechanics lab helped HPU’s physical therapy students, it also helped Nick Saul, an athletic training student. When he was accepted, he never thought his research in the lab would lead to him speaking at an international sports medicine conference.
Saul wanted to pursue his interest in preventing injuries. That’s how he met Dr. Yum Nguyen, associate professor of athletic training.
Saul partnered with the North Carolina Football Club in Raleigh. He examined and identified risk factors that increase the chance of lower extremity injuries in youth athletes.
“Dr. Nguyen guided me in my research,” says Saul. “He taught me to think critically, which is important for research, but also for my future.”
Saul’s findings were published, and he presented at the annual National Athletic Trainers’ Association Conference, where 15,000 clinicians and researchers from across the globe gathered.
“Nick’s presentation at a national conference sets him apart from students graduating from other schools,” says Nguyen. “Publishing as a student, particularly with the rigorous demands of an athletic training graduate program, is a major accomplishment.”
High-level research focused on improving patient care and preventing injury is being conducted in HPU’s Congdon School of Health Sciences. Below is a sample of ongoing studies.
Elisabeth Holt, HPU senior and exercise science major, examined the influence of lower leg landing patterns after ACL surgery. She presented her research at the American College of Sports Medicine’s annual meeting.
Dr. Sheri Lim, assistant professor of physician assistant studies, had her students research the health care needs of indigent people and put together packets of resources for these individuals.
Dr. Kevin Ford, director of the Human Biomechanics and Physiology Laboratory, received a $200,000 grant from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to conduct athletic injury prevention research. His research focuses on how growth spurts during puberty may contribute to the risk of knee injuries in young female athletes. Dr. Ford also has a separate research partnership with Adidas.
Dr. Kevin Ford, Dr. Yum Nguyen and Dr. Jeff Taylor oversee a study funded by Adidas that provides local high school football players with free cleats. The athletes test and complete questionnaires about the footwear throughout football season.