Course Descriptions

Year 1, Fall – Semester I – 17 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) and resultant 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 several structured clinical or clinically-related exposures that serve as a mechanism for understanding clinical relevance of practice and patient care principles covered during the semester.

 PT 621: Examination and Documentation I (4 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 (6 credits) – This course includes interpretation and implica­tions of patient history, patient goals, and examination data, including diagnostic imaging, evaluation of the patient with musculoskeletal problems, diagnosis of movement dysfunction, formulation of a prognosis, and formulation of an appropriate plan of care with specific 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, Spring – 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 several structured clinical or clinically-related exposures that serve as a mechanism for understanding clinical relevance of practice and patient care principles covered during the semester. 

PT 622: Examination and Documentation II (5 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 (interventions) 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 (4 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 formulation of an appropriate plan of care with specific interventions for the patient with neurological involvement in various physical therapy settings 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 postural control/balance, ambulation/gait, and motor function. 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 – 5 Credits 

PT 740: Professional Practice I (1 credit) – This intensive retreat focuses on development of professional skills, therapeutic relationships, and ethical decision making. 

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. Students work under the supervision of one or more clinical instructors (CI’s). Clinical sites and clinical instructors are carefully selected to facilitate the achievement of the goals of this first full-time clinical experience.  

Year 2, Fall – Semester III – 18 Credits 

PT 713: Structure and Function III (7 credits) - This tutorial based course covers the structure and function of the normal and impaired cardiovascular, pulmonary and integumentary systems. Patient cases reflect issues encountered in managing medically complex patients encountered in all practice settings and include problems of the cardiovascular, peripheral vascular, pulmonary and integumentary systems, as well as multisystem disorders such as amputation, cancer, 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 emphasized. Also included in this semester and tied to components of each course are several structured clinical or clinically-related exposures that serve as a mechanism for understanding clinical relevance of practice and patient care principles covered during the semester. 

PT 723: Examination and Documentation III (4 credits) – Using the multisystem cases from tutorial, students will examine clinical tests and measurements to assess ventilation, respiration, circulation, aerobic capacity, and endurance for patients with problems of the cardiovascular, peripheral vascular, pulmonary and integumentary systems, as well as special tests and measurements that might apply to other medically complex patients. Students will develop an understanding of how patient data and documentation systems are used to develop diagnoses and patient classification systems that direct patient care, support inter-professional communication, and provide a rationale for the patient’s plan of care. Students will 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 will also be included. 

PT 733: Evaluation and Intervention III (3 credits) – Using the multisystem cases from tutorial, this course will look at clinical decision-making for the complex patient. Students will use the results of the clinical examination in order to determine physical therapy diagnosis, prognosis, goals, priorities and appropriate therapeutic interventions for patients with disorders affecting the cardiovascular, peripheral vascular, pulmonary and integumentary systems, patients with oncologic disorders and for patients with multi-system involvement. The intervention options, rationales and implications for choices in these more complex patients will be considered. The impact of lifespan issues, family/cultural/societal support systems and expectations, and health care resource limitations will also be 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 will be included. 

PT 741: Professional Practice II (2 credits) – This course uses tutorial-based cases to examine the roles and responsibilities of the physical therapist as a professional. 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. 

PT 743: Grand Rounds I (2 credits) – In Grand Rounds I, students work in small groups utilizing clinical case scenarios typical of patients with complex medical problems affecting the cardiovascular, pulmonary, integ­umentary systems and immune systems. Students apply an evidence-based analysis of the literature related to a specific clinical examination, intervention or management strategy. The culminating products of the semester are a paper and a professional presentation of the case and evidence-based findings to students and faculty. 

Year 2, Spring – Semester IV – 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, neurological, cardiac, pulmonary, integumentary, and other systems presented in previous semesters, patient problems are inherently more complex and likely to involve at least two or more 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. Also included in this semester and tied to components of each course are several structured clinical or clinically-related exposures that serve as a mechanism for understanding clinical relevance of practice and patient care principles covered during the semester. 

PT 724: Examination and Documentation IV (4 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 (4 credits) – This tutorial-based course looks at clinical decision-making for the patient with musculoskeletal dysfunction specifically focused on advanced practice management of complex peripheral and spinal dysfunction and spinal cord injury. 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 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. 

PT 744: Grand Rounds II (3 credits) – Students continue to develop skills in the use of evidence for clinical decision-making begun in PT 743 through small group work, utilizing clinical case scenarios typical of patients with complex musculoskeletal and spinal pathologies. Students apply an evidence-based analysis of the literature related to a specific clinical examination, intervention or management strategy. The culminating product of the semester is a professional presentation of the case and evidence-based findings to students and faculty. 

PT 760: Special Project Part I (1 credit) – Students begin research for 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 their clinical decision making and (2) choose, analyze and present the research articles chosen to best facilitate clinical decision-making. 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, Late Spring–Semester V 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 reimbursement issues, case-mix and cost-effectiveness issues, capitation/contractual issues, marketing). 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. Quality assurance and program evaluation strategies are considered as elements of understanding current practice status, potential for new services and short and long-term practice planning strategies. Practice-based tutorial cases are used 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. Personnel management and professional development concepts are introduced and applied in individual student activities. 

PT 845: Professional Practice III (4 credits) –This course prepares students for roles of the physical therapist outside of the traditional single patient focus. It explores concepts of community outreach, implementation of wellness programming, and advanced or specialized intervention programs. Students work in small groups on a semester long community based service learning project with healthcare facilities, schools, or community agencies. Culmination of this project occurs at a formal Poster Presentation Evening where students present their work at the conclusion of the semester. 

PT 861: Special Project Part II (4 credits) – Students complete and present the result of the research begun in PT 760, Special Project Part I. This project is a summative experience across coursework 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 continue to assess the value of case and issue-related scientific literature to their clinical decision making and analyze and present the research articles chosen to best facilitate clinical decision-making. Students then 1) make a recommendation for the patient case based on the reviewed article and background literature and (2) 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. The culminating product of the semester is a professional presentation of the proposed research project to students and faculty. 

Year 3, Fall – 11 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. 

PT 853: Clinical Experience III (6 credits) – This 10-week full-time supervised clinical experience takes place in an environment that differs from the student’s earlier clinical experiences and is expected to prepare students to work with more complex and multisystem-involved patients and to continue to 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 experience and in their final experience. Students are expected to achieve entry-level competence in this clinical experience.   

Year 3 Spring – 6 Credits 

PT 854: Clinical Experience IV (6 credits) – This 10-week full-time supervised clinical experience takes place in an environment that differs from the student’s earlier clinical experiences and is expected to prepare students to work with more complex and multisystem-involved patients and to continue to 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. Students are expected to achieve entry-level competence in this clinical experience.