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.
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