Mary Snyder Shall, P.T., Ph.D.
Professor and chair
The Department of Physical Therapy was established in 1931 to provide basic preparation for the practice of physical therapy. Between 1931 and 1954, the program consisted of a 12-month professional course designed to train students for entry into the profession. This program was based upon at least three years of college work or the possession of a registered nurse certificate. A two-year professional program after two years of preparatory college work was initiated in 1954. This program led to the degree of Bachelor of Science in Physical Therapy. In 1968, the Department of Physical Therapy became part of the School of Allied Health Professions. The two-year professional program leading to the Bachelor of Science degree continued through the 1988-89 academic year.
In August 1989, the Department of Physical Therapy, School of Allied Health Professions, began a three-year professional program based on three years of previous college work that leads to a Master of Science degree. On Feb. 8, 2001 the VCU Board of Visitors approved a proposal to offer a Doctor of Physical Therapy as the entry-level professional degree. The State Council of Higher Education in Virginia gave its final approval for the proposal on June 20, 2001. The first class to study the professional program began in July 2002.
In addition to the professional program, the department participates in three collaborative and interdisciplinary Ph.D. programs.
The mission of the VCU Department of Physical Therapy is to serve the commonwealth of Virginia and the nation by:
- Advancing excellence in entry-level and post-entry-level education
- Generating innovative scientific discovery
- Impacting the health of the community through leadership
Physical therapy is an integral part of the health care system. Expanding knowledge in the basic and clinical sciences, and changes in the needs and mandates of society, continually place new demands on the physical therapy profession. The faculty of the Department of Physical Therapy is committed to providing educational programs responsive to expanding knowledge and the needs of society.
The primary principle directing the activities of the department is the faculty’s commitment to optimal patient care through physical therapy education, research and practice. The faculty strongly believes that physical therapists must have a thorough understanding of the theory and evidence that form the basis of contemporary patient/client management. In addition, physical therapists must be excellent problem-solvers and must demonstrate the highest levels of professionalism in their interactions with patients/clients, families and colleagues. The faculty also believes that physical therapists have a responsibility to develop skills for lifelong learning and to engage in service to the profession and to their communities.
The objectives of the Department of Physical Therapy, in concert with the mission of the university and the School of Allied Health Professions, are to:
- Provide an entry-level postbaccalaureate educational program for full-time students with diverse backgrounds and experiences
- Contribute to interdisciplinary post-professional doctoral programs that prepare physical therapists to contribute to the understanding and application of therapeutic procedures through basic and applied research and to teach both clinical and didactic physical therapy on all academic levels
- Provide an atmosphere that fosters critical thinking, intellectual curiosity and integrity, freedom of expression, personal growth and professional competence, and a commitment to learning for faculty and students
- Provide an environment that facilitates research and scholarship directed toward optimizing patient care
- Provide services to the public and professional communities
The educational facilities for the Department of Physical Therapy are located on the basement floor of A.D. Williams/West Hospital. These buildings, located on the northeast corner of 12th and Broad streets, house administrative and faculty offices, classrooms, physical therapy instructional, computer and research laboratories, and student locker rooms. Classrooms in other buildings on the MCV Campus are used as needed.
Clinical education experiences for professional students are offered in physical therapy clinics throughout Virginia and the country.
Graduate (postprofessional) programs in physical therapy
The Department of Physical Therapy is committed to improving physical therapy services through graduate education and research. The department participates in cooperative and interdisciplinary doctoral programs. An interdisciplinary Ph.D. in Rehabilitation and Movement Science is offered in conjunction with two other departments at VCU: the Department of Kinesiology and Health Sciences in the School of Humanities and Sciences and the Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation in the School of Medicine. Also, the department participates in the School of Allied Health Professions’ Ph.D. in Health Related Sciences.
Education at the Ph.D. level is a highly independent adventure. The curricula offered by the Department of Physical Therapy through joint ventures with other departments allow students the opportunity to focus on highly divergent aspects of research related to physical therapy. Each of the programs also offers students opportunity to hone teaching skills in preparation for a well-rounded academic career.
Regardless of the chosen program or track, each Ph.D. student conducts a substantial original research project. Individuals interested in doctoral education are encouraged to examine the research interest areas of faculty in each of the participating departments and to consult with the program directors before submitting their application to a specific program.
Applications are encouraged from individuals who are practicing physical therapists. Applicants must have graduated from a physical therapy educational program approved by the American Physical Therapy Association. International students must have an equivalent level of education as determined by the Office of International Admissions. Individuals who are not physical therapists are not accepted into the advanced degree programs.
Additional admission requirements for graduate study in the Department of Physical Therapy are as follows:
- A minimum GPA of 2.7 on a 4.0 scale for entry-level professional education
- Satisfactory score on the general test of the GRE (taken no more than five years prior to admission)
- Three satisfactory letters of recommendation
- Applicant’s written statement of intent for pursuing graduate studies in a particular program
- Such additional requirements as established for each specific program
International students also must score a 600 or above on the Test of English as a Foreign Language (250 on computer-based test).
Some teaching and research assistantships are available from the Department of Physical Therapy. These assistantships are competitive. Part-time employment as a physical therapy clinician is available in Richmond and surrounding areas. Doctoral students receiving stipends must receive approval of outside employment.
VCU provides three types of student assistance: scholarships, loans, and work study. For information on these types of financial assistance, write to the Office of Financial Aid, Virginia Commonwealth University, MCV Campus, Richmond, VA 23298-0244.
Priority consideration is given to applications received by Jan. 9.
- Physical Therapy, Doctor of (D.P.T.)
Rehabilitation and Movement Science, Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) with a concentration in:
PHTY 501. Gross Anatomy (Physical Therapy). 7 Hours.
Semester course; 4 lecture and 6 laboratory hours. 7 credits. Examines the structural and functional anatomy of the human musculoskeletal system through lecture and cadaver dissection. Develops understanding of fundamental facts and principles that apply to professional practice through lecture, dissection, radiographic examination and clinical correlation.
PHTY 502. Kinesiology. 4 Hours.
3 lecture and 2 laboratory hours. 4 credits. Introduces the student to the kinematics and kinetics of human movement. Emphasis is placed on osteokinematics, arthrokinematics and the structures that limit and/or guide movement.
PHTY 503. Applied Exercise Physiology. 3 Hours.
for Wellness and Health Promotion
Semester course; 2 lecture and 2 laboratory hours. 3 credits. Restricted to students in the professional Doctor of Physical Therapy program. Integrates principles and practices of applied physiology, health promotion, wellness and adult fitness. Emphasizes the underlying physiology with assessing physical fitness and developing therapeutic exercise prescriptions which meet recommended guidelines for achieving and maintaining optimal physical fitness and health.
PHTY 505. Applied Microscopic Anatomy for Physical Therapy. 4 Hours.
Semester course; 4 lecture hours. 4 credits. Examines the basic components of cells in terms of their structure and function. Cells and tissues of greatest importance to physical therapists are studied in detail, and their response to injury is explored. Reviews methods of studying cells.
PHTY 506. Functional Neuroanatomy. 4 Hours.
Semester course; 3 lecture and 2 laboratory hours. 4 credits. Examines the basic structure and function of the nervous system with special emphasis on topics of greatest concern to physical therapists. Uses neurobiological approach to integrate the basic health sciences of neuroanatomy, neurophysiology and clinical neuroscience.
PHTY 508. Orthopaedic Physical Therapy I. 6 Hours.
Semester course; 8 lecture and laboratory hours. 6 credits. Teaches some of the basic evaluation methods and measurement procedures used by physical therapists in history taking and physical examination. Includes lecture, demonstration and practice in measurement of the length and girth body parts, manual and mechanical muscle testing, joint range of motion, accessory motion testing, and palpation.
PHTY 510. Rehabilitation I. 4 Hours.
Semester course; 3 lecture and 2 laboratory hours. 4 credits. Introduces basic clinical skills and procedures, including measurement of vital signs, patient lifting and moving techniques, progressive mobilization, medical asepsis and principles of bandaging. Introduces medical documentation, record keeping and professional communication. Introduces communication methods and skills appropriate for interaction with patients, families and colleagues.
PHTY 512. Professional Aspects of Physical Therapy. 2 Hours.
Semester course; 2 lecture hours. 2 credits. Restricted to students in the professional Doctor of Physical Therapy program. Introduces sociocultural and psychosocial issues that impact patient management. Introduces students to an overview of issues in health care related to organization, finance, access and regulation of services for individuals, groups and communities, as well as a general overview of interrelationships among health care consumers, providers, organizations, regulators and third-party payers.
PHTY 520. Clinical Education I. 3 Hours.
Semester course; 1 lecture hour and 80 clinic hours. 3 credits. Introduces the profession of physical therapy. Emphasizes professionalism, ethics, professional behaviors, physical therapy extenders role and individual differences that may impact patient care. Provides an introduction to the Guide to Physical Therapy Practice and educational concepts that are related to personal growth and patient management. Includes a part-time experience in local acute care hospitals and/or home health and long-term care facilities designed to introduce the student to physical therapy practice. Allows students to develop interpersonal skills with patients, peers and other health care professionals while applying and practicing skills learned in the first professional year of education in a clinical setting.
PHTY 531. Evidence-based Practice Concepts. 2 Hours.
Semester course; 2 lecture hours. 2 credits. Introduces concepts and principles of the research process including question, theory and hypothesis development, research design and methodology, and statistical reasoning and analysis. Discusses the basis of critical review of professional literature and determination of the relevance and applicability of research findings to specific patients with the goal of promoting evidence-based practice.
PHTY 537. Rehabilitation II. 3 Hours.
Semester course; 2 lecture and 2 laboratory hours. 3 credits. Restricted to students in the Professional Doctor of Physical Therapy program. Presents evaluation and treatment methodology for the acute care patient. Focuses on the rehabilitation phase of patient care and emphasizes the spinal cord injured patient. Laboratories include wound care, mat mobility, wheelchair mobility, patient transfers and gait training. Clinic visits expose students to patient evaluations and patient care in the acute and rehabilitation settings.
PHTY 601. Advanced Measurement Concepts. 3 Hours.
Semester course; 3 lecture hours. 3 credits. Investigates the principles of measurement theory as applied to clinical practice. Reviews basic principles guiding electronic instrumentation and electromyography. Examines the theoretical bases for the examination and treatment approaches used in orthopedic physical therapy or neurologic physical therapy.
PHTY 603. Evidence-based Practice I. 4 Hours.
Semester course; 4 lecture hours. 4 credits. Introduces concepts and principles of the research process including question, theory and hypothesis development, research design and methodology, and statistical reasoning and analysis. Introduces critical review of professional literature and determination of the relevance and applicability of research findings to specific patients with the goal of promoting evidence-based physical therapy practice. Teaches how to access and implement electronic search engines to locate and retrieve professional literature. Twelve lecture hours will be provided on site at the beginning of the semester; the remainder of the course will be distance-based.
PHTY 604. Evidence-based Practice II. 3 Hours.
Semester course; 3 lecture hours. 3 credits. Prerequisite: PHTY 603. Continuation of PHTY 603. Provides an advanced review of the concepts and principles of the research process and evidence-based practice. Focuses on skills needed to develop relevant clinical questions for specific patient scenarios, perform a critical appraisal of professional literature and determine the applicability of the research findings for patient management. Includes preparation of a publication-ready paper on a topic relevant to the student's practice interests. Course is entirely distance-based.
PHTY 605. Foundations for Pathokinesiology. 3,4 Hours.
Semester course; 3-4 lecture hours. 3-4 credits. A study of the principles that form a foundation for understanding pathokinesiology and therapeutic kinesiology. Integration of principles of motor development, control and learning with emphasis on abnormal motor behavior and its remediation.
PHTY 606. Therapeutic Kinesiology. 2-4 Hours.
Semester course; 1-3 lecture and 3 clinical hours. 2-4 credits. A study of motor behavior in both normal and pathological conditions. Reading and discussion of the basic literature of current neurologic approaches to therapeutic exercises and an integration of these concepts into a comprehensive model of human movement.
PHTY 608. Advanced Musculoskeletal Sciences. 3 Hours.
Semester course; 3 lecture hours. 3 credits. Examines the structure and function of tissues of the musculoskeletal system. Investigates mechanisms of healing of these tissues and explores the affects of various modalities, altered use and disease on the structure and function of musculoskeletal tissues. Crosslisted as: REMS 608.
PHTY 609. Clinical Biomechanics. 3 Hours.
Semester course; 2 lecture and 2 laboratory hours. 3 credits. Provides an opportunity to develop knowledge in sufficient depth to understand how selected biomechanical factors influence normal and pathologic human form and movement. Stresses validity and reliability of methods of evaluating musculoskeletal form and function.
PHTY 610. Physical Therapy Evaluation in the Direct Access Setting. 2 Hours.
Semester course; 2 lecture hours. 2 credits. Covers critical physical therapy evaluation skills necessary for autonomous practice in the adult outpatient orthopaedic setting; recognition of the clinical manifestations of medical problems that may mimic mechanical neuromusculoskeletal seen by physical therapists and screening for medical referral. Through topic discussions, case presentations and self-paced tutorials, develops skills to screen for conditions that merit physician referral when practicing in the direct access setting. Eight lecture hours will be provided on site; the remainder of the course will be distance-based.
PHTY 611. Research Process. 2 Hours.
Semester course; 2 lecture hours. 2 credits. Readings, discussions and reports on the current status of professional literature and validation of clinical practice, clinical administration and professional education. A model for professional development, the role of research in the validation process and the basis of research design are presented non-mathematically. Required of all advanced master of science degree students unless excused by the faculty.
PHTY 612. Advanced Biomechanics. 3 Hours.
Semester course; 2 lecture and 2 laboratory hours. 3 credits. Prerequisite: REMS/HEMS 611 or permission of instructor. Designed for students in the interdisciplinary Ph.D. in Rehabilitation and Movement Science. Covers advanced biomechanics techniques for the evaluation and quantification of human performance. Encourages scientific thought with practical applications. Crosslisted as: REMS 612.
PHTY 613. Evidence for Orthopaedic Practice. 2 Hours.
Semester course; 2 lecture hours. 2 credits. Prerequisite: PHTY 603. Evidence-based medicine course for orthopedic physical therapy. Through presentations, topic discussions and case presentations students will acquired evidence on selected topics of the evaluation and treatment of musculoskeletal dysfunctions in physical therapy practice. Promotes development of skills needed for the acquisition, reading and interpretation of published studies in the area of orthopaedic physical therapy. The entire course is distance-based.
PHTY 614. Evidence for Neurologic Practice. 2 Hours.
Semester course; 2 lecture hours. 2 credits. Prerequisite: PHTY 603. Evidence-based medicine course for neurologic physical therapy. Through Web-based presentations, topic discussions and case presentations, students will acquire evidence for selected topics related to the evaluation and treatment of neurologic dysfunctions in physical therapy practice. Promotes the development of skills in the acquisition, reading and interpretation of published studies in the area of neurologic physical therapy. The entire course is distance-based.
PHTY 615. Pharmacology (Physical Therapy). 1 Hour.
Semester course; 1 lecture hour. 1 credit. Restricted to students in the Professional Doctor of Physical Therapy program. Series of lectures on the integrated approach to the study of human disease and pharmacotherapeutics. Covers the pharmacological management of common disease states affecting physical function. Emphasizes the utilization of subjective and objective patient data for the assessment, monitoring and optimization of pharmacotherapy.
PHTY 616. Evidence of Tissue Healing and Therapeutic Modalities. 2 Hours.
Semester course; 2 lecture hours. 2 credits. Prerequisite: PHTY 603. Distance-based course that focuses on current trends and topics of tissue healing including the effects of physical therapy interventions on healing tissues using an evidence-based approach. Reviews histology and cytology concepts relevant to clinical practice or necessary for interpreting scientific literature on the topic.
PHTY 617. t-DPT Gross Anatomy. 3 Hours.
Semester course; 2 lecture and 2 laboratory hours. 3 credits. Focuses on musculoskeletal anatomy with high clinical relevance for physical therapists. Incorporates introductory material on diagnostic imaging of the spine and extremities. Self-directed distance learning modules will be augmented with a series of on-campus cadaver dissection laboratories over a four-day visit to campus.
PHTY 621. Therapeutic Agents. 4 Hours.
Semester course; 3 lecture and 2 laboratory hours. 4 credits. Examines the theoretical bases for and therapeutic application of thermal, mechanical and electrical agents. Emphasizes the physical and physiological effects, indications and contraindications for electrical current, diathermy, superficial heat and cold, massage, ultraviolet, traction, ultrasound, laser and compression therapy. Analyzes relative current scientific literature and uses laboratories for practice and clinical problem-solving.
PHTY 623. Cardiopulmonary Physical Therapy. 3 Hours.
Semester course; 2 lecture and 2 laboratory hours. 3 credits. Applies principles of pathophysiology of the cardiovascular and respiratory systems; includes physical therapy assessment and treatment of patients with cardiac and respiratory disorders.
PHTY 624. Clinical Problem-solving I. 2 Hours.
Semester course; 2 lecture hours. 2 credits. Restricted to students in the Professional Doctor of Physical Therapy program. Provides an advanced review of the concepts and principles of the research process and evidence-based practice. Focuses on skills needed to perform a critical appraisal of professional literature and to determine the relevance and applicability of research findings to a specific patient or series of patients based on information collected during the first summer clinical experience. Provides opportunity to develop oral patient case presentation skills.
PHTY 626. Lifespan I. 6 Hours.
Semester course; 9 lecture and laboratory hours. 6 credits. Restricted to students in the professional Doctor of Physical Therapy program. Covers models of typical motor, psychosocial, neurological and musculoskeletal development from birth through adolescence; models of neurologic dysfunction in developmental disabilities; principles of examination and evaluation in pediatrics; commonly seen diagnoses; and treatment planning for a pediatric population.
PHTY 627. Lifespan II. 2 Hours.
Semester course; 2 lecture hours. 2 credits. Discusses age related changes in physical structure, motor control and psychosocial/cognitive issues in humans from middle adulthood to the end of life. Emphasizes the geriatric population and the physical therapy management of problems with the integumentary system. Highlights the role of the physical therapist in making program modifications based on age related changes.
PHTY 629. Special Topics in Physical Therapy. 1 Hour.
Semester course; 1 lecture hour. 1 credit. Provides an opportunity to pursue and present a topic of interest that is related to physical therapy evaluation and treatment.
PHTY 640. Neurologic Physical Therapy. 6 Hours.
Semester course; 4 lecture and 4 laboratory hours. 6 credits. Prerequisites: PHTY 535 and PHTY 539. Applies principles of motor development, control and learning to the evaluation and remediation of motor disorders. Critically surveys current theory and practice of neuromotor therapeutics.
PHTY 644. Orthotics and Prosthetics. 2 Hours.
Semester course; 2 lecture hours. 2 credits. Prepares the student to participate as a member of the professional prosthetic or orthotic clinic team, integrates material from other courses, and teaches basic skills in orthotic and prosthetic assessment, prescription, and training and performing initial and final prosthetic and orthotic checkouts.
PHTY 646. Clinical Medicine. 2 Hours.
Semester course; 2 lecture hours. 2 credits. Covers topics in clinical medicine and the sciences relevant to the practice of physical therapy. Medical practitioners from the VCU Medical Center and surrounding areas participate.
PHTY 648. Orthopaedic Physical Therapy II. 6 Hours.
Semester course; 4 lecture and 2 laboratory hours and 24 clinical hours. 6 credits. Examines principles and techniques used by physical therapists for the treatment of patients with orthopaedic disorders. Uses scientific evidence and theoretical rationale in a problem-solving approach to develop treatment plans for patients with orthopaedic musculoskeletal disorders. Provides opportunities for students to gain hands-on experiences with patients in a clinical setting.
PHTY 650. Clinical Education II. 8 Hours.
Semester course; 320 clock hours. 8 credits. Restricted to students in the Professional Doctor of Physical Therapy program. Eight-week, full-time clinical experience designed to develop competency in physical therapy evaluation and treatment. Teaches the use of sound scientific rationale and problem solving skills in aspects of patient care. Promotes the development of an independent professional through synthesis and utilization of advanced academic theory in evaluation and treatment. Encourages the exploration of interest areas in a variety of practice settings.
PHTY 651. Professional Issues in Physical Therapy. 2 Hours.
Semester course; 2 lecture hours. 2 credits. Restricted to students in the Professional Doctor of Physical Therapy program. Discusses professional issues facing the modern physical therapy practitioner, including ethical decision making, state and national current physical therapy issues, and legislative efforts. Provides opportunity for advancing skills in educational techniques, assertiveness skills, conflict resolution, as well as preparation for employment via resume and portfolio writing and interview skills.
PHTY 654. Clinical Problem-solving II. 1 Hour.
Semester course; 1 lecture hour. 1 credit. Restricted to students in the Professional Doctor of Physical Therapy program. Provides the opportunity to review, integrate and develop strategies using previously presented material and research to present an oral case study of a patient or patients from the clinical experience in the previous summer.
PHTY 661. Administration and Management in Physical Therapy. 2 Hours.
Semester course; 2 lecture hours. 2 credits. Restricted to students in the Professional Doctor of Physical Therapy program. Provides students with a basic understanding of operational issues related to physical therapy practice in a variety of settings. Topics include leadership, operational and business success measures, reimbursement, quality assurance, performance improvement, utilization review, risk management, documentation and marketing. Skill sets include, at an introductory level, supervision, delegation, hiring practices, budget development and analysis, peer review, outcomes measurement, and ethical decision making.
PHTY 670. Clinical Integration of Physical Therapy Concepts. 2 Hours.
Semester course; 2 credits. Restricted to students in the Professional Doctor of Physical Therapy program. Uses case studies in a problem-based learning approach, which will allow students to integrate knowledge about patient evaluation and assessment with treatment design, implementation, and progression. Utilizes current literature to support treatment interventions. Includes topic areas: pediatrics, orthopaedics, neurology, oncology, cardiac rehabilitation, integumentary systems and acute care/ICU.
PHTY 674. Clinical Problem-solving III. 1 Hour.
Semester course; 1 lecture 1 credit. Restricted to students in the Professional Doctor of Physical Therapy program. Integrates material from D.P.T. courses with clinical research. Provides experience in writing individual case reports dealing in depth with the history, current status and problems in a given area of clinical specialization.
PHTY 676. Comprehensive Study of Physical Therapy Practice. 2 Hours.
Semester course; 2 lecture hours. 2 credits. Reviews topics in practice patterns of neuromuscular, musculoskeletal, cardiovascular, integumentar and professionalism relative to physical therapy practice. Prepares students for the National Physical Therapy Examination.
PHTY 680. Clinical Education III. 8 Hours.
Semester course; 320 clinical hours. 8 credits. Eight-week full-time clinical experience designed to allow the student to develop entry-level competence in physical therapy evaluation and treatment techniques. Includes the use of sound scientific rationale and problem-solving skills in all aspects of patient care. Promotes the development of an independent professional through synthesis and utilization of advanced academic theory in evaluation and treatment. Graded P/F.
PHTY 690. Physical Therapy Graduate Seminar. 16 Hours.
Semester course; 1 credit. Provides opportunity to develop knowledge and skills in evaluating published scientific literature related to physical therapy, developing researchable questions and orally presenting the material in a professionally appropriate manner.
PHTY 691. Special Topics in Physical Therapy. 1-4 Hours.
1-4 credits. Guided independent study of specific topics not discussed in courses or discussed in less detail in courses. Student's desired topic of study must be identified and approved prior to enrollment.
PHTY 692. Clinical Specialty Seminar. 0.5-3 Hours.
Semester course; 0.5-3 credits. Individual reports dealing in depth with the history, current status and problems in a given area of clinical specialization.
PHTY 693. Clinical Specialty Practicum. 1-9 Hours.
60 clock hours per credit. 1-9 credits. Concentrated clinical experience under the guidance of an approved preceptor.
PHTY 695. Clinical Education IV. 16 Hours.
Semester course. 640 clinical hours. 16 credits. Sixteen-week full-time clinical experience designed to allow the student to develop entry-level competence in physical therapy evaluation and treatment techniques. Includes the use of sound scientific rationale and problem-solving skills in all aspects of patient care. Promotes the development of an independent professional through synthesis and utilization of advance academic theory in evaluation and treatment. Graded P/F.
PHTY 798. Research in Physical Therapy. 1-15 Hours.
1-15 credits. Research in preparation for the advanced master of science degree thesis or doctoral dissertation.