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Physical Therapy

Bachelor of Science/Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT)

Thinking about a career in physical therapy? The AIC physical therapy program allows students with or without an undergraduate degree to complete their doctorate in physical therapy.

Through our 3 + 3 program, undergraduate students complete three years at the undergraduate level and three years at the graduate level, earning both BS and DPT degrees faster than by earning separate undergraduate and graduate degrees. The undergraduate phase consists of prerequisite and general education courses, and the graduate phase encompasses academic, clinical, and research experiences that prepare students to meet or exceed entry-level practice standards for the profession. Students who already have a bachelor’s degree and the prerequisites for the program, enter at the graduate (professional) phase of the DPT.

DPT Program Outcomes

Graduation rates 2012–2013: 90%
Licensure pass rates 2012–2014: 94%
Post-graduation employment rates 2013–2015: 100%

Accreditation

The Doctor of Physical Therapy Program at American International College is accredited by the Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education (CAPTE), 1111 North Fairfax Street, Alexandria, Virginia 22314; telephone: 703-706-3245; email: accreditation@apta.org; website: www.capteonline.org.

Other Issues

Complaints that fall outside due process from a person, group or organization including clinical education sites, employers of graduates and the public may be submitted to the Division of Physical Therapy. Questions, concerns or complaint submission may be directed to the Director of the Division of Physical Therapy at American International College, 1000 State Street, Springfield, MA or cindy.buchanan@aic.edu.
 

I am not only learning the clinical skills to practice as a physical therapist, I am learning how to be an ethical professional who can understand and connect with patients. Every day is different, and I’m always challenged.

—Christina Romeo ’14 (DPT ’16) Physical Therapy Student
What you’ll learn

What you’ll learn

You’ll gain the skills necessary to help people of all ages and from all walks of life improve their mobility, restore their daily functioning, better manage their physical limitations, and relieve their pain.

Future studies

Future studies

The DPT is a 3 + 3 program: three years at the undergraduate level (pre-professional phase) and three years at the graduate level (professional phase).

Career opportunities

Career opportunities

Graduating from the DPT program prepares you to work in a variety of healthcare settings and practitioner roles.

Pre-Professional Phase: Year One

Pre-Professional Phase: Year Two

Pre-Professional Phase: Year Three

Professional Phase: Year One

Professional Phase: Year Two

Professional Phase: Year Three

Total credit hours: 121

Undergraduate Phase: Year One

This is a survey course of the basic physical and chemical principles essential to an understanding of molecular biology and its applications to the basic concepts of cellular morphology, physiology, cellular behavior, modern genetics, evolution, and ecology. One two-hour laboratory period per week with laboratory fee. This course is intended for non-science majors and may be used to satisfy the general education requirement for scientific awareness.

This course is an in-depth survey of algebraic and geometric problem solving techniques, including solutions of polynomial equations and inequalities, curve sketching techniques, and trigonometry from the triangular and functional standpoint. The course will make active use of technology by requiring the use of both a graphing calculator and computer software.

English Composition 1201 is a writing-intensive course that prepares students for all levels of academic discourse. Emphasis is placed on the art of persuasion, on the development of students’ critical thinking skills, and on key rhetorical concepts such as audience, purpose, and voice. Students learn the various steps to the writing process, from brainstorming to final revision, and learn the importance of writing coherent, unified, and organized essays that are fundamentally and mechanically sound. Though primarily a writing course, English Composition 101 also helps students see the connection between reading and writing. In addition, students learn the art of academic research and documentation. ENG1201 is determined by performance on a placement test or by satisfactory completion of ENG1100.

ENG1202 is an advanced writing course and is designed to extend reading and writing skills developed in English 1201. Emphasis is placed on critical and analytical writing and the analysis and interpretation of texts. Students are exposed to a variety of texts from fields across the curriculum. They write essays in response to what they read by formulating and defending a thesis, by synthesizing sources, and by evaluating information and ideas from multiple perspectives. In addition, students demonstrate an ability to do research and to document their work in the major academic styles.

The First Year Seminar is an academic course designed around the core goal of helping students successfully transition to college by meeting their educational, career, and personal goals. Students will be provided with information, skills and strategies necessary to fully engage and participate in their learning experiences both inside and outside the classroom. Focus is given to the areas that are critical for success in college: academic and career preparation; understanding the learning and development process; adjusting to the responsibilities of being an active member of the AIC community.

The basic concepts of BIO1100 are used as background to develop an understanding of the structure and function of mammalian organ systems and their evolutionary development. One two-hour laboratory period per week with laboratory fee. This course is intended for non-science majors and may be used to satisfy the general education requirement for scientific awareness.

This course presents the principles of statistics as applied to the analysis of biological and health data. Topics include descriptive statistics, probability distributions, hypothesis testing, analysis of variance, non-parametric statistics, and regression analysis. The course will make active use of technology by requiring the use of computer software.

Undergraduate Phase: Year Two

This course presents fundamental principles of chemistry, including a study of atomic and molecular structure, stoichiometry, and the states of matter. It is an introductory course for science majors, and is the course required for admission to medical school. It may also be used to satisfy the college’s general requirement in science. Co-enrollment in CHE211R (review) is required.

This course covers the basic laboratory techniques in chemistry and illustrates chemical principles through laboratory experiments. One three-hour laboratory session per week with a laboratory fee. CO-REQUISITES: CHE1600

This course will provide students with the foundational knowledge and skills in the use of library resources and common computer tools. It will be broad enough in scope to enable students to continue learning independently as well as to build discipline-related knowledge and skills both within and beyond the college curriculum. Legal and ethical considerations will be addressed.

This course covers the basic principles of behavior, that make up the foundation of psychology. Emphasis is placed on the biological basis of behavior, sensation, perception, learning, language, memory, thinking, infancy, and childhood. The methods of inquiry used in psychology are also emphasized.

This course continues the systematic exploration of the human body, including clinical considerations of the endocrine, cardiovascular, immune, respiratory, digestive, urinary, and reproductive systems. One three-hour laboratory period per week with laboratory fee.

A continuation of CHE1600, this course includes a study of chemical kinetics, acids and bases, equilibrium, thermodynamics, electrochemistry, and the chemistry of aqueous solutions. Co-enrollment in CHE212R (review) is required

This laboratory course is a continuation of CHE1600. One three-hour laboratory session per week with a laboratory fee. CO-REQUISITES: CHE1700

continuation of PSY1401, with an emphasis on the application of psychology to contemporary life. Topics include: motivation and emotion; social behavior; adolescence and adulthood; personality; abnormal behavior and psychotherapy; stress, health, and psychology of the workplace.

Undergraduate Phase: Year Three

This is a basic course that covers the fundamental principles of mechanics, vibration, and thermodynamics. Newton’s laws of motion will be applied to a broad range of practical problems involving real phenomena. The laws of thermodynamics will be utilized to study thermal processes and properties. Students will learn to develop working equations from basic concepts in order to solve problems. The course is taught without calculus.

This course covers basic laboratory techniques in physics and illustration of the principles of physics through laboratory experiments. Students will become familiar with the processes and nature of making scientific measurements and the analysis of relationships between physical quantities. Experiments will be selected for the study of mechanics, vibration, and thermodynamics. One three-hour laboratory session per week with laboratory and breakage fees. CO-REQUISITES: PHY1600

Physical Therapy Orientation is designed to educate the student about the history of physical therapy, financing and reimbursement in health care, the importance of effective communication and the role of the physical therapist, physical therapist assistant, occupational therapist, speech language pathologist and nurse in healthcare. Students will also be introduced to medical terminology and medical abbreviations to prepare the undergraduate student for the professional phase of the physical therapy program.

This is a continuation of PHY1600 covering the fundamental principles of electricity, magnetism, light, and modern physics. The course is taught without calculus.

A continuation of PHY 1601. Experiments will be selected for the study of electricity, magnetism, light, and modern physics. One three-hour laboratory session per week with laboratory and breakage fees. CO-REQUISITES: PHY1800

Professional Phase: Year One

This course is designed to present an in-depth examination of the musculoskeletal system of the human body, with limited consideration of pertinent aspects of other body systems. The course material will be presented in lecture format and supplemented with laboratory experience with human cadaver dissection, computer programs, audiovisual tapes and anatomical models. Topics covered include the spine, neck, thorax and upper extremity.

This course focuses on the fundamentals of English and the manner in which health care professionals communicate with scientific and public audiences. Students will be prepared to write documents such as abstracts, research proposals and summaries of scientific literature using AMA style. Students will be exposed to different types of research materials through the use of library and electronic resources.

This course is an extension of Human Gross Anatomy I. The course will continue its in-depth examination of the musculoskeletal system of the human body. The materials will be presented in lecture format, supplemented with laboratory experience with human cadaver dissection, computer programs, audiovisual tapes and anatomical models. Topics covered include the lower extremity, thorax, abdomen, pelvis, head and neck.

Evidenced Based Medicine is the process of finding, appraising and using research findings in order to make sound patient management decisions. This course introduces the learner to the basic concepts of EBM and is the first in the Scientific Inquiry series. Students will learn how to formulate relevant clinical questions, search and critically appraise the medical literature, and implement useful findings into clinical practice. Students will also be introduced to the research requirements and process for the doctor of physical therapy degree at AIC. Teaching methods will include web-based instruction, case studies, small group discussions and lecture.

This course is the first in a series of clinical medicine courses designed to provide the physical therapy student with knowledge of human pathology of selected body systems including implications for patient management. Topics covered are inflammation, wound healing, immune responses, basic oncology, infectious diseases, liver diseases and specific diseases of the endocrine, gastrointestinal, and genitourinary systems. This is a foundational course as it promotes an understanding of disease processes, and it guides the student in application and analysis of medical pathology in patient care. It is taught concurrently with Fundamentals of Patient Management I and II. Teaching methods will include lecture, readings and discussions. This course prepares the student for their first clinical education experience, PTR7336.

This course will introduce students to professionalism in physical therapy including the Code of Ethics, Guide to Professional Conduct, Professional Behaviors, Standards of Practice, Core Values and the APTA’s Vision 2020 Statement. Contemporary practice issues and patient rights will be discussed.

This course introduces the student to basic concepts of biomechanics as applied to human functional anatomy and motion. Primary areas of study will include kinematics, kinetics, muscle function and anthropometry. This course prepares the student for further study of movement dysfunction across the curriculum.

This course provides a foundation for examination and diagnostic skills relevant to orthopedic, neurological, cardiopulmonary and integumentary pathologies. This course introduces the student to the Nagi model of disablement, the International Classification of Functioning, Disability and Health (ICF) and to the five elements of patient/client management as described in the Guide to Physical Therapist Practice. Primary areas of emphasis in this course are examination procedures including history taking, systems review, and basic tests and measures such as assessment of vital signs, reflexes, joint range of motion and strength. In addition, the student will also learn documentation using a SOAP note format.

This is one of two fundamental patient management courses in which the student will begin to acquire clinical skills. It is intended to serve as an introduction to the profession of physical therapy. The course will cover basic clinical techniques such as bandaging, positioning and transferring patients, gait training, wheel chair assessment, application of various heat and cold modalities, hydrotherapy, paraffin, ultrasound and nerve and muscle stimulating currents. This course is designed to prepare the student to critically analyze a patient and provide interventions to those patients in the acute, sub acute, rehabilitation and homecare settings.

This course continues the series on management of the patient with musculoskeletal dysfunction, with an emphasis on patient examination, evaluation, diagnosis and prognosis. The course emphasizes a Cyriax-based examination scheme and also includes basic McKenzie principles for diagnosis of spinal disorders, gait and postural analysis.

This course focuses on treatment intervention techniques such as therapeutic exercise, massage, extremity mobilization, and spinal traction, and prepares the student for the design, implementation and evaluation of treatment programs. This course is designed to prepare students to perform patient interventions specifically in the outpatient setting, but can also be adapted to the acute care, sub acute, rehabilitation and home care setting. This course is integrated with Musculoskeletal I, Gross Anatomy II, Musculoskeletal Clinical Medicine and Kinesiology.

Neuroscience I and II will introduce the students to the neuroanatomy and neurophysiology of the central nervous system. Emphasis will be placed on the sensory and motor functions of the human nervous system. The application of basic neuroscience to clinical practice will be included. Current research topics and methodology will be discussed to foster an ongoing ability to integrate new information.

This is the second in a series of three clinical medicine courses designed to acquaint the student with medical aspects and pathologies of diseases and disabilities. The first orthopedic unit follows Patient Evaluation I: PTR 435, for basic orthopedic clinical terminology, runs concurrently with Musculoskeletal Patient Management II: PTR 446. Also included are special units on the management of hand problems and maternal adaptations to pregnancy.

This course is the second in a series of Professional Foundation courses. The emphasis will be placed on cultural diversity of patients and how the physical therapist must be sensitive to cultural differences and various perceptions of health, illness, and rehabilitation. The course will also familiarize students to the expectations of clinical education experiences including the role of clinical faculty, professional behaviors and the Clinical Performance Instrument.

Facility with the application of statistical methods used in physical therapy and rehabilitation research is essential to implementing Evidence Based Practice (EBP) and improving patient care. Students will learn to analyze and interpret descriptive and inferential statistics. Emphasis will be placed on evaluation of diagnostic tests, the reliability of patient assessment, assessment of meaningful clinical change, identification of intervention responses, and use of clinical prediction models. Readings, class discussion, in-class exercises, and exams will focus on applying statistical analyses to specific aspects of patient care.

This course investigates the principles of exercise physiology, including physiologic function, muscle architecture, and biological responses to various forms of exercise. Lecture sessions will focus on the basic principles and expected responses to exercise. Selected topics will include aerobic and anaerobic metabolism, muscle structure and physiological responses to exercise.

Clinical Education I is the first in the series of three clinical education experiences in which the student will have the opportunity to perform examinations and interventions in a clinical setting. The assignment will be 40 hours/week for a 12 week period, beginning at the end of the first academic year. The experience is designed to permit progressive responsibility in patient examination and treatment.

Professional Phase: Year Two

Neuroscience I and II will introduce the students to the neuroanatomy and neurophysiology of the central nervous system. Emphasis will be placed on the sensory and motor functions of the human nervous system. The application of basic neuroscience to clinical practice will be included. Current research topics and methodology will be discussed to foster an ongoing ability to integrate new information.

This research course will critically explore the issues involved in conducting and evaluating research in physical therapy. Concepts from Scientific Inquiry I will be reinforced while examining the nature, relevance, and application of qualitative and quantitative research methods as they relate to assessment and intervention outcomes in the context of evidence-based practice. Students will learn the concepts, theories, and tools necessary to formulate a research question. Emphasis will be placed on the strengths and weaknesses of different types of research design, validity and reliability of outcome measures, types and effects of research biases, and review of clinical research literature.

This course introduces students to ergonomic principles and processes, governing bodies, and the application of ergonomics in the home and work setting. Selected topics will include job site analysis; work capacity evaluations and intervention planning. Students will conduct a job/home sites analysis and formulate an intervention plan.

This course is the third in a series of three clinical medicine courses and provides an overview of pathological conditions affecting the central and peripheral neuromuscular systems. Emphasis is placed on pathology etiology, clinical signs and symptoms as well as implications for patient management. This information will establish a foundation for management of patients with neuromuscular dysfunction. The student integrates this knowledge with physical therapy patient examination in Neuromuscular Patient Management I and patient intervention planning in Neuromuscular Patient Management II.

This course examines the theoretical and clinical basis for the examination and treatment of patients with neurological impairments. Historical and current theories of CNS function, motor control, motor learning and motor development will be used as the framework for this process. Examination procedures and findings, and their implications for therapeutic interventions will be explored based on the ICF and the Nagi Model of Disablement and evidence based practice. The format of this course will be lecture/laboratory style, including patient demonstrations, movement analysis, and examination procedures.

This course introduces the student to the components of normal and pathological gait across the lifespan. The normal mechanics of gait are the basis for the biomechanical assessment of the foot and ankle and patient management for orthotic and prosthetic prescription and training.

This course examines the theoretical and clinical basis for the treatment of patients with neurological impairments. Evidence for historical and current intervention approaches will be discussed. Students will design, implement, progress a plan of care and analyze functional outcomes. The format of this course will be lecture/laboratory style, including patient demonstrations, movement analysis and exploration of handling skills.

This course will examine the principles of teaching and learning across the lifespan. Students will discuss issues regarding teaching peers, patients, caregivers and the community. Learning theory and styles and the interactive use of technology will be emphasized.

This course reviews pharmacology and its relevance to physical therapy practice. Basic mechanisms of drug action are described. Drug benefits and detrimental side effects are presented related to specific disorders. Selected medications and their impact on patient management are discussed. This course is taught concurrently with Neuromuscular and Cardiopulmonary Patient Management and relevant sections are interactively supportive.

This course is an advanced integumentary patient management course in which students study patient/client management concepts pertaining to disorders of the integumentary system across the lifespan. It is a culminating integumentary course following introduction to wound care in Foundations of Clinical Medicine. Major topics include evidenced based physical therapy management of integumentary dysfunction associated with burns, traumatic injury, infection, vascular disease, lymphedema, and pressure/mechanical wounds.

This course is the fourth in a series of clinical medicine courses and provides an overview of pathological conditions affecting the cardiovascular and respiratory systems. Emphasis is placed on pathology, etiology, clinical signs and symptoms as well as implications for patient management. This information will establish a foundation for examination and treatment of patients with cardiopulmonary dysfunction. The student integrates this knowledge with Cardiopulmonary Patient Management, which is taught concurrently.

This course examines the relationship of the psychosocial aspects of illness and disability. Students will discuss topics regarding ageism, cultural diversity, gender issues, death and dying, elder and child abuse, and domestic violence.

This course investigates the components of health promotion and wellness programs presented with an emphasis on prevention and the promotion of health and wellness. Concepts and constructs of health and wellness in relation to individuals and populations will be reviewed and analyzed. Promotion of health, health of Americans (Healthy People 2020) and world health (World Health Organization, WHO) are discussed. Students examine and apply theories and models relevant to changing health behavior.

This course focuses on management of the patient with cardiopulmonary dysfunction or disease with an emphasis on patient examination, evaluation, diagnosis, prognosis and evidence based interventions. Students will examine the normal function of the cardiopulmonary system across the life span as the basis for pathogenesis and the application of physical therapy management.

Professional Phase: Year Three

Clinical Education II is the second in a series of three clinical education experiences in which the student will have the opportunity to perform examinations and interventions in the adult population, across the practice patterns. The assignment will be 40 hours/week for a 12 week period, beginning at the end of the second academic year.

Scientific Inquiry IV is one of the culminating courses in the scientific inquiry sequence. Students participate in faculty supervised independent study with the ultimate goal of completion of a capstone project in the form of a clinical case report. Students will identify and research a clinical case that has not already been reported in scientific literature. Student will submit the first draft of their manuscript in order to progress to Scientific Inquiry V.

The course will explore the principles of differential diagnosis in which the student will develop a systematic method of distinguishing between disorders of similar character by comparing their signs and symptoms. A case-based approach will be used in this course. Principles of imaging, including radiography, CT scans, MRI, special studies and arthrograhy will also be discussed. The course prepares students for their final clinical education experience.

This course focuses on leadership theory and principles, organizational processes, policy formation, political aspects of the Affordable Healthcare Act, and various components of private practice. Upon completion of this course, students will be prepared to incorporate the values of transformational leadership into their personal leadership plan, understand the progression of starting their own practice, and navigate the contemporary healthcare environment. A current research-based approach will be used to explore leadership, healthcare innovation, and political influences in order to create models that may expand the profession of physical therapy.

The Complex Patient seminar integrates both clinical and basic science knowledge and skills acquired throughout the curriculum by analyzing patients with multiple diagnoses and movement dysfunction. Students will have the opportunity to apply clinical decision-making skills to the dynamic interaction of multiple system variables (physiological, biomechanical, psychological, social, cultural and environmental) and their impact on the disease and recovery process. Tests, measures and interventions will be discussed related to the diagnostic categories described in the Guide to Physical Therapist Practice. The format of this course will include a variety of learning experiences including presentations by expert clinicians, small group discussions, patient based experiences, video demonstrations and written assignments.

This course integrates knowledge from core curriculum courses as it relates to normal development and pediatric disorders. The course will examine the clinical decision making process involved in pediatrics with regards to musculoskeletal, neurological, cardiopulmonary and neonatal impairments. The student will be knowledgeable in the tests, measures, and examination, evaluation, and intervention strategies as described in the Guide to Physical Therapy Practice. The student will explore evidence-based medicine for further investigation of the efficacy of physical therapy outcome measures in pediatrics. The student will recognize and internalize the psychosocial impact on children and families with disabilities. A variety of learning experiences will be provided to develop critical thinking skills.

This course requires integration of material previously learned in Gross Anatomy, Kinesiology, and the Patient Management and Clinical Medicine series. The focus of this course is on advanced examination and intervention skills for the patient with spinal and TMJ musculoskeletal impairments, with an emphasis on evidence-based practice. Interventions will include muscle energy techniques, mobilization, manipulation as well as therapeutic exercise and patient education. Teaching methods for this course will include lecture, discussion, lab experience, on-site ergonomic analysis, patient demonstrations, case studies, student presentations, and online lectures and discussions.

Scientific Inquiry V is the culminating course in the scientific inquiry sequence. Students participate in faculty supervised independent study with the goal of completion and dissemination of a capstone project in the form of a clinical case report. Students identify, research and document a clinical case that has not already been reported in scientific literature. Students submit a manuscript, create a poster, prepare and present a platform presentation and disseminate their capstone projects with the college and local community.

Clinical Education III is the culminating clinical education experience. The assignment will be 40 hours/week for a 12 week period. The student will demonstrate entry level skills and knowledge necessary to enter into the professional practice of physical therapy upon completion of this course.

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