Course Descriptions

Year 1, Semester I – 18 Credits

PT 611: Structure and Function I (7 credits)
This tutorial-based course covers the structure and function of the normal and impaired musculoskeletal system. Normal anatomy and biomechanics are examined in the context of patient cases with common musculoskeletal problems to understand the tissue and organ stressors (including environ­mental interaction, aging and disease processes) that result in physiological responses that may then lead to or exacerbate pathology, impairment or dysfunction. Also included in this semester and tied to components of each course are 4-6 structured clinical exposures for each student per semester that serve as a mechanism for understanding clinical relevance to practice and patient care.

PT 621: Examination and Documentation I (6 credits)
This course presents conceptual models for clinical decision-making and expert practice for patients presenting with musculoskeletal dysfunction. Students are introduced to psychosocial, psychomotor, and communica­tion aspects of interacting with patients and their families. Using tutorial-based cases, basic concepts in patient data collec­tion from the patient interview to clinical tests and measure­ments of the musculoskeletal system are presented, including assess­ment of: range of motion, joint integrity and mobility, pain, basic muscle perfor­mance, posture, body mechanics, and observa­tional gait analysis. Students are introduced to the concepts of evidence-based practice, with emphasis on prin­ciples necessary to understanding patient impairment, func­tional outcome and disability data, measurement charac­ter­istics of and rationale for choices among available tests and measures, and strengths and limitations of using data to draw conclu­sions about individual patients or patient groups. Parameters of patient documentation as a data management tool and form of professional communication are initiated.

PT 631: Evaluation and Intervention I (5 credits)
This course includes interpretation and implications of patient history, patient goals, and examination data, including diagnostic imaging to evaluation of the patient with musculoskeletal problems, to diagnosis of movement dysfunction, to formulation of a prognosis, and to planning appropriate interventions. The intervention options, the physiologic rationale, implications, and evidence for choices in the context of tutorial cases are discussed for impairment-level problems with strength, range of motion, inflammation, and pain. The implications of pharmacologic use and interactions on the musculoskeletal system and related structures are included also, as well as the role of assistive and adaptive devices in facilitating goal achievement.

Year 1, Semester II – 16 Credits

PT 612: Structure and Function II (7 credits)
This tutorial-based course covers the structure and function of the normal and impaired neurological system. Anatomy of the central, peripheral, and autonomic nervous systems are examined in the context of patient cases with common neurological pathology to understand the interactive effects of normal, pathological, developmental, or age-related and environmental influences on movement (including motor planning, motor control, and motor learning). Also included in this semester and tied to components of each course are 4-6 structured clinical exposures for each student per semester that serve as a mechanism for understanding clinical relevance to practice and patient care.

PT 622: Examination and Documentation II (6 credits)
Using neurologically involved patients from tutorial-based cases, principles of examination and patient data collection are expanded to include interview issues and clinical tests, measurement options, and rationales for assessing: attention, arousal, cognition, cranial nerve integrity, neuromotor develop­ment, reflex integrity, sensory integrity, and motor performance. Handling skills for the more involved patient are included, as are implications of findings for referral to other health care practitioners. Students continue to examine how to use evidence in practice by developing an under­stand­ing of and ability to analyze and independently interpret the range of issues affecting statistical and clinical inference in a published research, including individual studies, systematic reviews, and clinical practice guidelines.

PT 632: Evaluation and Intervention II (3 credits)
This course includes interpretation and implications of patient history, patient goals, and examination data, including diagnostic imaging, to evaluation of the patient with neurological problems, to diagnosis of movement dysfunction, to formulation of a prognosis, and to planning appropriate interventions for the patient with neurological involvement with consideration of best available evidence. The intervention options and implications for choices in the context of tutorial cases are discussed, for example, for problems with balance, gait, and motor function. Gait analysis is used as a support to the patient evaluation process. The implications of pharmacologic use and interactions on the nervous system and related structures are included also, as well as the role of assistive and adaptive devices in facilitating goal achievement.

Year 1, Summer – 4 Credits

PT 651: Clinical Experience I (4 credits)
This 8-week, full-time supervised clinical experience takes place in an environment that has a predominant case­load of patients with musculoskeletal and/or neurological problems. A 1:4 model of clinical instructor to students is proposed, using carefully selected sites and clinical instruc­tors to facilitate the achievement of the goals of this first full-time clinical experience.

Year 2, Semester I – 17 Credits

PT 713: Structure and Function III (7 credits)

This tutorial-based course covers the structure and function of the normal and impaired cardiopulmonary and integumentary systems. Patient cases include not only problems of the cardiopulmonary and integumentary systems, but also the patient with complex, multisystem problems such as amputation, cancers, chronic pain, and frailty. The interactive effects of normal, pathological, developmental or age-related and environmental influences on the ability to perform activities of daily living and on response to exercise are considered. The implications of pharmacologic use and interactions on the relevant systems and on exercise tolerance are also included.

PT 723: Examination and Documentation III (3 credits)

In the context of tutorial-based cases, students continue with clinical tests and measurements to assess ventilation, respiration, circulation, aerobic capacity, and endurance for patients with problems of the cardiopulmonary and integumentary systems, as well as special tests and measurements that might apply to the frail patient, patients with cancer, or patients with amputation being considered for prosthetic intervention. Students develop an understanding of how patient data and documentation systems are used to develop diagnostic codes and patient classification systems that direct patient care, support interprofessional communication and provide a rationale for the patient's plan of care. Students use database management and statistical software to analyze presented data from a patient group to address one or more clinical questions relevant to that patient group. Diagnostic screening and implications of findings for referral to other health care practitioners are also included.

PT 733: Evaluation and Intervention III (4 credits)

This course includes interpretation and implications of patient history and examination data, including diag­nostic imaging, evaluation of the patient with spinal, TMJ, genitourinary, or complex mobility problems, diagnosis of movement dysfunction, formulation of a prognosis and planning appropriate interventions using best available evi­dence. Intervention options, rationale, and implications for choices among spinal interventions, exercise pro­grams, assistive or supportive devices, orthotic, environmental, and ergonomic modifications are examined as the means of optimizing mobility, self-care, and home or workplace manage­ment. Gait analysis is used as a support to the patient evaluation process. The implications of pharmacologic use and interactions on the studied systems and related structures are also included, as well as the role of assistive and adaptive devices in facilitating goal achievement.

PT 741: Professional Practice I (3 credits)

This course uses tutorial-based cases to examine the roles and responsibilities of the physical therapist as a professional.  The scope of physical therapy practice is explored, including the role and responsibilities of other members of the health care team, responsibilities in referral to other health care professionals and in delegation to and supervision of support personnel. Ethical guidelines and conflicts are considered along with factors affecting patient, family and interprofessional communication. Patient and family educational issues are examined in the context of optimizing short and long-term outcomes.

Year 2, Semester II – 18 Credits

PT 714: Structure and Function IV (6 credits)
This tutorial-based course covers the in-depth structure and function of the normal and impaired axial skeleton and genitourinary system, including problems related to pregnancy, spinal dysfunction, TMJ, and spinal cord injury. Building on the foundational musculoskeletal and neurological systems presented in previous semesters, patient problems are inherently more complex and likely to involve at least two systems. The interactive effects of normal, pathological, developmental or age-related and environmental influences on the ability to perform activities of daily living and on response to exercise are explored. The implications of pharmacologic use and interactions on the relevant systems and on exercise tolerance also are included. In addition, included in this semester and tied to components of each course are 4-6 structured clinical exposures for each student per semester that serve as a mechanism for understanding clinical relevance to practice and patient care.

PT 724: Examination and Documentation IV (3 credits)
In the context of tutorial-based cases, students continue with clinical tests and measurement options and rationales for assessing spinal dysfunction, genitourinary problems, mobility impairments, and environmental/ergonomic factors including functional capacity evaluations. The strengths and limitations of advanced technology-based procedures for obtaining examination data, including muscle performance and movement analysis, are introduced.

PT 734: Evaluation and Intervention IV (3credits)
This tutorial-based course looks at clinical decision-making for the patient with cardiopulmonary dysfunction, the more complex patient, and the patient with multisystems involvement. The intervention options, rationales and implications for choices in these patient groups are considered. The impact of lifespan issues, family/cultural/societal support systems and expectations, and health care resource limitations are also considered in the context of how these will affect evaluation, prognosis and intervention for a patient. Patient advocacy issues relative to obtaining equipment and support services are included. Also included in this semester and tied to components of each course are 4-6 structured clinical exposures for each student per semester that serve as a mechanism for understanding clinical relevance to practice and patient care. Development of a mini-proposal continues to build skills in using evidence to guide practice.

PT 742: Professional Practice II (3 credits)

The history, present status and future directions of the physical therapy profession are explored, as well as the role of the American Physical Therapy Association, state and federal regulations, and regulatory agencies in influencing practice. Physical therapy practice settings and the structure of the health care system (including the role of third-party payers) are examined to develop an understanding of the impact these have on the role of physical therapists and physical therapy practice in those settings and in that system are examined. The potential role of the physical therapist as a case manager is discussed.

PT 760: Special Project I (3 credits)
Students complete and present a project that is a summative experience across course work to date. Students are presented with complex clinical cases from which key issues in examination or intervention are selected. Working in small groups, students review the research literature on their assigned case-related management issue. Using independent and self-directed learning, students: (1) assess the value of case and issue-related scientific literature to the clinical decision making; (2) choose, analyze and present the research article chosen to best facilitate clinical decision-making; (3) make a recommendation for the patient case based on the reviewed article and background literature; and (4) briefly propose a research project that would address one or more deficits in the current body of relevant research literature. This major project demonstrates the students' ability to appropriately use research literature to guide clinical decision-making and practice, as well as their understanding of the role of research in advancing practice and contributing to the profession's body of knowledge.

Year 2, Summer – 5 Credits

PT 752: Clinical Experience II (5 credits)
This 10-week, full-time supervised clinical experience takes place in an environment that differs from the student's first affiliation and is expected to prepare students to work with more complex and multisystem-involved patients, as well as prepare the student to carry an independent caseload.

Year 3, Semester I – 17 Credits

PT 825: Contemporary Practice in Physical Therapy (9 credits)
This tutorial-based course includes environmental and ergonomic modifications as the means of optimizing home or workplace manage­ment, while focusing on the health care delivery system – the context in which practice exists, must function, and within which practice goals and objectives are established. Practice-based cases are used to develop an understanding of health care finance and financial decision-making (including an understanding of case-mix and cost-effectiveness issues), marketing, and capitation/contractual issues. Trends in health care and health care finance are examined in the context of understanding the role of the physical therapist as an advocate for the patient and the profession. The function of and considerations relative to the physical therapist as a con­sultant to other practices, health care providers or a community is discussed. Program evaluation and needs assessment strategies, concepts in wellness assessment, and screening programs are considered as elements of understanding current practice status, potential for new services and short and long-term practice planning strategies.

PT 843: Professional Practice III (4 credits)
Practice-based tutorial cases are used to prepare students for role competence in practice implementation issues. Practice-based cases are used to develop an understanding of the role of standardized patient examination data and patient/practice documentation systems (including employee assessment tools) in examining practice outcomes, administrative issues such as scheduling (patient and personnel), and cost-effectiveness issues around equipment/supplies. The role of docu­mentation systems in contributing to the body of knowledge of the profession and generating financial data is explored. This course prepares students for community outreach, implementation of wellness programming, advanced or special­ized intervention programs in the context of either practice-based tutorial cases or past tutorial cases revisited. Students are exposed to options for and have selected experiences with interventions based on advanced technology. Professional presentations by the students are used as the teaching-learning medium for a substantial segment of this course.

PT 861: Special Project II (4 credits)
This project is a summative experience across course work to date, serving as a capstone experience for the practice and community-based phase of the curriculum. Students work in small groups to develop a full proposal, including some data collection, analysis, and interpretation. Students work jointly with a faculty member and preceptor from the professional community who can lend expertise to the clinical problem. Each group presents and defends their project to the class, preceptor and faculty, and (where possible) relevant practice personnel in an end-of-semester professional presentation week. The final outcome of each project (approved by the preceptor and faculty) includes a formal written recommendation that includes a full and documented rationale. One day per week of integrated field experience provides students time to focus on their clinical practice problem.

Year 3, Semester II – 13 Credits

PT 844: Professional Practice IV (3 credits)
This course focuses on leadership and management theory, including organizational behavior, change agency, and assessing/managing quality assurance. Practice settings and organizational structures are examined in the context of their impact on patient care, professional and organizational behavior. The course includes examination and interpretation of personnel and practice outcomes, personnel management and development, management of benefits, and risk management. This course is predominantly on-line in format, with students teleconferencing for 1-2½-hour periods each week for 14 of the 20 week clinical assignment(s) to explore and discuss issues in advanced practice, practice management and health care. Actual examples from the students' current clinical assignments and sample cases are used to facilitate discussions of opportunities and need for change, including evaluation of the constraints to change.

PT 853: Clinical Experience III (5 credits)
PT 854: Clinical Experience IV (5 credits)

These two full-time supervised clinical experiences (in two 10-week units) take place either in a single environment that offers different patient care or practice options, or in two different settings that round out the student's exposure to patient care. Students are exposed to and participate in practice administration for at least some period during this final experience or set of experiences.