Dozens of community members joined faculty, staff and students on Nov. 2 in the University of North Georgia's (UNG) Department of Physical Therapy to learn about and celebrate the opening of a student-led clinic and two cutting-edge research labs.
Housed on the university's Dahlonega Campus, where the Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) program is located, the new facilities were welcomed by Dahlonega Mayor Gary McCullough, who cut the ribbon at the start of the Open House.
"It's always great to have more places that will help those who can't afford other options," McCullough said, speaking particularly about the Student-led Therapy and Rehab (STAR) clinic. "There is nothing like hands-on experience for students, but it's wonderful that this is also performing such a great service for our community."
The research labs feature highly-advanced technology that will be under the guidance of newly recruited, top-notch faculty, according to Dr. Teresa Conner-Kerr, dean of UNG's College of Health Sciences & Professions.
"The Movement Science Laboratory features an advanced motion analysis system with an integrated, wireless virtual reality system, electromyography and force platform. This lab will allow researchers to study complex movements, including robotics and prosthetic devices. Athletes, individuals with neurological problems and even animal motions can also be studied," Kerr said. "The Balance and Neuromotor Rehabilitation Laboratory offers advanced level assessment and treatment of individuals with neurological impairments from a variety of conditions including concussion, stroke, Parkinson's disease and substance abuse."
Drs. Stan Solnik and Eunse Park are running the Movement Science Laboratory, and are creating customized virtual reality applications that allow movement analysis from a unique perspective.
Community members and faculty and staff from other departments toured the facilities after a short presentation detailing how the labs and clinic will impact patients and students.
"The interaction between our DPT students, faculty and community is providing a learning opportunity totally beyond normal health education, and the value is increased by the small-town nature," said Dr. Tom Ormond, provost and senior vice president for academic affairs at UNG. "Giving our students the chance to tackle real-world problems in a safe learning environment is an opportunity unlike any other."
Now in its 10th year, UNG's DPT program was the first doctorate degree offered at the university, and the program is accredited by the Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education. The program has trained and produced therapists with the knowledge and skills to help their patients and also be a positive influence in their practice and in their communities, and since its inception, the program has produced graduates that managed a 97 percent pass rate on the National Physical Therapy Examination.