Physical Therapy and Rehabilitation Sciences

Our Mission

To advance the practice of physical therapy by generating knowledge and educating students to become health care practitioners of choice for optimizing movement, health and wellness for society.

Our Philosophy

The profession of physical therapy is constantly changing with the emergence of new scientific evidence, technological advances, diverse practice settings, specialized health care markets, cost-effective management systems, and more informed consumers. With these changes in mind, it is the philosophy of this department to provide its graduates with a quality education in an environment that fosters innovation, collaboration, and respect. We believe that all physical therapists should strive to achieve their highest potential in order to provide state-of-the-art patient care that requires sound clinical reasoning, a blend of manual and technological expertise, skilled communication, and the ability to adapt to future practice patterns. In addition, we strive to graduate physical therapists who are committed to lifelong learning and service to their profession and their community.

This philosophy guides the curriculum which consists of traditional and nontraditional learning experiences that are integrated around recurring themes related to the multiple roles of the physical therapist in patient care, health promotion, research, management, education, and community service. These themes include: a holistic view of health care; evidence-based practice; a functional orientation to treatment goals and outcomes assessment; interdisciplinary collaboration; effective communications, resource management, and marketing strategies; and patient/public empowerment and advocacy. Learning experiences occur in classroom, laboratory, clinical, and community settings and are designed to meet the needs of adult learners who have diverse learning styles. Faculty use a variety of teaching strategies including lectures, laboratory demonstrations and practice, computerized instruction, small group tutorials, journal clubs, self-directed projects, and service learning to accomplish curricular goals and objectives.

The professional curriculum builds on a general education that incorporates prerequisite courses in the biological and physical sciences, social sciences, management, humanities, and communications. Successful completion of a baccalaureate degree demonstrates the student's ability to accumulate and integrate a breadth of information within a focused area of study. In the first year of the professional curriculum, courses in human development, gross anatomy, neuroscience, kinesiology, pathology, research methodology, legal and ethical principles, management, and psychosocial issues form the basis for understanding the art and science of physical therapy. Basic therapeutic evaluation and intervention techniques are also presented during the first year. Within these courses, students are oriented to the model of disablement, the Guide to Physical Therapist Practice, and the physical therapist's role within the continuum of health care. These fundamental courses are followed by problem-oriented clinical courses that reflect the types of movement dysfunction that are commonly diagnosed and treated by physical therapists. Advanced therapeutic techniques related to the management of musculoskeletal, cardiopulmonary, neuromuscular, and integumentary dysfunctions are presented in these courses along with pertinent information regarding medical, surgical, and complementary approaches to patient care.

Patient cases that are used to apply the knowledge and skills learned in the first year are revisited during the second year with increasingly complex problems that require a synthesis of knowledge and skills learned across the curriculum. Cases are frequently presented in small group tutorials that are primarily instructor-directed in the first year of the curriculum and become student-directed during the second year. Didactic learning is reinforced by full-time clinical experiences that are interspersed throughout the second year of the program and a clinical internship at the end of the curriculum.

Analytical and problem solving skills are developed throughout the didactic and clinical portions of the curriculum. Because graduates are expected to be participants as well as consumers of research, students also design and complete a professional project during their second year of study that generates new information related to the practice of physical therapy. The curriculum culminates with the formal presentation of these projects.

To achieve this mission, the program enforces policies and regulations stated in the SHP Bulletin and the  UTMB Catalog. Additional policies and regulations established by the program are based on educational and clinical structures and the practical limitations of the program. It is essential that each student understand the regulations, their enforcement, and their rationale prior to beginning the Physical Therapy program.

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