The Monday Memo: 1/25/2016

The Monday Memo

January 25, 2016                                                                            PITT DPT STUDENTS

Faculty Highlight: Dr. Patrick Sparto, PhD, PT

 

As students, we spend long hours in the classroom and lab with many of our faculty. But some faculty we do not get the chance to see as often because their presence is essential to their research. This only makes the chance to hear about their groundbreaking research from them all the more special. For this week, we spoke with Dr. Patrick Sparto, PhD, PT. The mechanical engineer/physical therapist is a member of Pitt’s Departments of Physical Therapy, Otolaryngology, and Bioengineering, and always keeps his lectures light with a mix of thorough coverage of material and his witty brand of humor.

 

What courses are you involved with, both within and outside of the PT program?
Physiology of Exercise
Musculoskeletal PT 3 (Ergonomics Module)
Neuromuscular PT (Vestibular PT)
Various lectures and instruction for PhD program

 

What is your title and what certifications do you have?
Associate Professor in the Department of Physical Therapy
Secondary appointments in the Department of Otolaryngology and Bioengineering

My PhD is in Biomedical Engineering, and I have a Master of Physical Therapy degree from Pitt in 1999

 

What led you to pursue your field of research?
My doctoral degree is in Biomedical Engineering, specializing in biomechanics and human movement analysis. When I was looking for a position after completing PT school, there was an open position in the Department of Otolaryngology and Physical Therapy to study postural control. This was a perfect fit for the skills I had learned in graduate research training, so I was able to apply the engineering techniques to problems related to balance and vestibular disorders. I also have an interest in working with older adults, who of course have many balance disorders.

 

How did you make your way to the University of Pittsburgh?
My wife and I were looking at universities that had outstanding programs in our fields of study, and luckily Pitt had top-ranked programs in PT and psychology. Then we were both able to transition into faculty positions.

 

What type of research and/or projects are you working on that you would like to share with us?
I am co-director of the DPT-PhD in Bioengineering program, which is just in its first year.  I am also involved in several research studies related to studying the control of balance in older adults, individuals with vestibular disorders, and individuals after concussion. Our studies examine the neuroimaging of balance, quantifying balance intensity, studying balance in long term care environments, and recovery after concussion.

 

Thank you Dr. Sparto for your time and input!

 

SPOTLIGHT: Shout out to Shayna Spano for representing the Physical Therapy Department at the Working Group on Interprofessional Education’s patient case in which students from all of the health professions collaborated on in treating a unique hypothetical patient transitioning through the transgender process.

 

Check the Calendar for Class Schedules and Events

Social Media Updates
  • #DPTstudent –  WEDNESDAYS , 9-10pm EST!   Check out #DPTstudent page for details!
  • Unite Physical Therapy Students – If you haven’t yet, please check out the “Doctor of Physical Therapy Students” Facebook page. More than 9,500 students have already joined!
  • Our own page! Pitt Physical Therapy, thanks to the Social Media Team, has created an official PittPT Facebook page!
  • #SolvePT (meets on Tuesdays Twitter from 9-10pm EST)
January 25, 2016 |

The Monday Memo: 1/18/2016

The Monday Memo

January 18, 2016                                                                            PITT DPT STUDENTS

 

Volunteer Opportunity for Physical Therapists

 

Three Rivers Adaptive Sports (TRAS) is a local chapter of Disabled Sports USA. Disabled Sports USA has dedicated itself to providing opportunities to engage in recreational sports for people of all abilities. TRAS holds the same opportunities and vows “to promote quality of life, education and to provide quality year-round sports and recreation opportunities for people with disabilities, their families and friends.”

 

During the winter seasons, TRAS provides equipment and instruction for those interested in learning how to ski or snowboard at Hidden Valley and Seven Springs. Students are accompanied by TRAS volunteers and Ski instructors who assist the students throughout their experience on the mountain. It’s a great way to get outside for the day and participate in a great organization. TRAS was recently recognized by the U.S. Paralympics for its value in supporting all people and encouraging them to participate in community based activities: Most people with physical or visual disabilities don’t have the chance to participate in regular sports activities. By partnering with community and national organizations across the country, U.S. Paralympics is working hard to expand these opportunities. Starting with official Paralympic Sport Clubs, a network made of hundreds of community-based programs, our reach is growing. Research proves daily physical activity raises self-esteem, helps individuals develop peer relationships, increases achievement, enhances overall health and improves quality of life.”

 

            Pittsburgh is very lucky to have such an organization. It’s a great opportunity not only for the students but also for the volunteers. As Physical Therapists, it’s a great learning opportunity to work with the adaptive equipment, critically think through alternative ways of moving, and engage with people outside of the standard clinical setting.

 

If you are interested in learning more about TRAS or becoming a volunteer, please visit: http://www.traspa.org/2015-2016-snow-skiing.html.

 

-Molly Bachmann

 

Check the Calendar for Class Schedules and Events

Social Media Updates
  • #DPTstudent –  WEDNESDAYS , 9-10pm EST!   Check out #DPTstudent page for details!
  • Unite Physical Therapy Students – If you haven’t yet, please check out the “Doctor of Physical Therapy Students” Facebook page. More than 9,500 students have already joined!
  • Our own page! Pitt Physical Therapy, thanks to the Social Media Team, has created an official PittPT Facebook page!
  • #SolvePT (meets on Tuesdays Twitter from 9-10pm EST)
January 19, 2016 |

The Monday Memo: 1/11/2016

The Monday Memo

January 11, 2016                                                                            PITT DPT STUDENTS

 

A Conversation with Dr. Susan Whitney

 

The University of Pittsburgh and the greater Pittsburgh area have long been the source of groundbreaking healthcare research and medical advancement for numerous fields of practice. We are lucky enough, here in the Department of Physical Therapy, to have the opportunity to learn from some of the pioneers leading this research. Recently, we had the chance to speak with Dr. Susan Whitney, DPT, PhD, NCS, ATC, FAPTA, and faculty here at Pitt who instructs courses on balance disorders, and recently returned from an international guest lectureship across New Zealand and Australia. When Dr. Whitney wasn’t lecturing at the University of Otago to the PhD students, the entry level students, their neuroscience institute, and other public lectures, she was hard at work writing some of her upcoming research manuscripts. She also began a collaborative research project with one of their PhD students concerning patients with cerebellar disorders and Multiple Sclerosis, and is already planning to publish the third paper from his dissertation. Together they are also working to validate the Mini-Best test for people with vestibular disorders, as well as to see how its metrics to compare to other commonly used tests for balance disorders.

 

Within the last year, Dr. Whitney has published ten articles that can now be found on PubMed. Recently she has submitted a paper to the American Journal of Sports Medicine regarding the VHIT measure (Vestibular Head Impulse Test); the study looked at children and adults post-concussion to see if they had an obvious vestibular disorder. Only a few days later she submitted a case report about a rarely diagnosed vestibular disorder that was seen here in Pittsburgh called “Light Cupula,” which often resembles BPPV. Currently, Dr. Whitney is working with Greg Marchetti in using a data pool of roughly 800 patients to compare differences in treatment and outcomes between patients treated by a PT versus patients treated by a specialist PT (OCS, SCS, etc.), and then attempt to identify what those differences are and what indicators identified a better prognosis. Another project she is working on is an NIH project looking at vibro-tactile feedback in treating individuals with vestibular disorders and improving their postural control. All in keeping herself busy, Dr. Susan Whitney is involved projects in the areas of orthopedics, home care, stroke, balance and postural control, and cerebellar disorders. Dr. Whitney also plays a large role with the international Masters of Physical Therapy program maintained here at the University of Pittsburgh. Coming up this year, Dr. Whitney and her family will be hosting one of the visiting faculty from Otago, as they often do, while the two collaborate and finalize the data collection methods for an upcoming joint study.

 

When asked what advice she might have for students entering the field, she remarked that there is infinite value in keeping one’s self constantly curious and to always keep reading. Try to learn something new every day; never stop learning.

 

Check the Calendar for Class Schedules and Events

 

Social Media Updates
  • #DPTstudent –  WEDNESDAYS , 9-10pm EST!   Check out #DPTstudent page for details!
  • Unite Physical Therapy Students – If you haven’t yet, please check out the “Doctor of Physical Therapy Students” Facebook page. More than 9,500 students have already joined!
  • Our own page! Pitt Physical Therapy, thanks to the Social Media Team, has created an official PittPT Facebook page!
  • #SolvePT (meets on Tuesdays Twitter from 9-10pm EST)
January 11, 2016 |