Grant addresses gap in training

Thursday, October 22, 2015

ARLINGTON, Va. – A $49,000 grant has been awarded to Laura Cohen, executive director of the Clinician Task Force, and Barbara Crane, an associate professor of physical therapy at the University of Hartford, to better align seating and wheeled mobility training programs.

The one-year grant, awarded by the Craig H. Neilsen Foundation, will be used to develop a curriculum, based on the World Health Organization’s/United States Agency for International Development’s Wheelchair Service Training Program Package, for entry level PTs and PTAs, as well as continuing education for practicing clinicians. 

While all accredited PT and PTA programs must follow a set of standards to become accredited, Cohen says they’re not standardized as far as how the content is presented, the number of hours spent on a given topic, or the depth and breadth that those topics are explored. 

“Each accredited program does things different,” she said. “They all have different strengths, weaknesses and focuses, based on the faculty and their research interests. As far as accreditation goes, they all have the lowest common denominator.”

The goal is to create a plug-and-play module to be used voluntarily by accredited PT and PTA programs in the United States at minimal to no cost. 

To that end, Cohen and Crane are partnering with the American Physical Therapy Neurology Section, which has agreed to host the materials on the web.

“We’ve had a good response from interested universities that want to use this, but we want to retain access to the materials so that we have control over updating and revising them, to make sure we don’t have old, obsolete material circulating around,” said Cohen. “We’re making a sustainability plan.”