WSSU Physical Therapy Department Earns National Award

Dr. Peggy Valentine

Dr. Peggy Valentine

October 27, 2011
The Department of Physical Therapy (PT) at Winston-Salem State University (WSSU) recently received the Cultural Pluralism Award at the annual conference of the Association of Schools of Allied Health Professionals which included national and international representatives from over 100 member schools.

    The award was based on the department’s demonstrated leadership in promoting cultural pluralism through the establishment of free physical therapy services at the Community Care Center in Winston-Salem, its work in health disparities research, and its global learning initiatives.

    “We are extremely proud of the work being done by the students and faculty in our Department of Physical Therapy,” said Dr. Peggy Valentine, dean of the School of Health Sciences at WSSU.  “Through our doctoral program, we are training students to be outstanding professionals in the field of physical therapy.  As importantly, however, are the lessons they are learning about the importance of giving back to their communities, both those in which they live and those which they can serve on a more global basis through actual hands-on activities and through research that can have a positive effect on the health disparities that continue to exist.”

    The department was recognized for the PT clinic that has provided over $250,000 in services since it was established in the summer of 2008 by a former student who received the first Albert Schweitzer Fellowship at WSSU.  It is the only free PT service in Forsyth County and serves an ethnically diverse population between the ages of 18 and 65 with an income that is at 200% below the federally defined poverty level.  PT students continue to provide leadership in the day-to-day running of the clinic and their work has been featured both locally and nationally.  An example of their work is the efforts students made to secure a new prosthetic limb for a patient who was wearing an ill-fitting limb that he had gotten from a deceased friend.  Now, two other PT students have received Schweitzer Fellowships and will oversee a program that provides developmental screening and healthily lifestyle information to children under the age of 18 who are from diverse ethnic backgrounds and whose families have minimal access to care and few financial resources.  Children from all over the North Carolina also have access to a pre-operative clinic that the WSSU PT Department operates in collaboration with Wake Forest University as a way to provide screening services to many patients with cerebral palsy who require surgery for spasticity.

    In the areas of research, three investigators in the department have acquired funding for health disparity related research through a National Institutes of Health grant. These grant projects include research on the influence of ethnic skin differences on amputation rates in African Americans versus whites and the fall risks in elderly African Americans with hypertension.  There is also an e-learning project called “E-Care, We-Care” that provides information to diverse populations on chronic disease prevention and care in both English and Spanish. The information is accessible through computers in community-based agencies and churches in the community.

    Through its global learning initiative, the PT Department is working in Belize in collaboration with St. Louis University to provide clinical services to a remote mountain area of the country.  It has also signed a Memorandum of Understanding to do work in Cairo.

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