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Susan Klappa, PT, MPT, Ph.D., M.A.

Susan Klappa
Title: Department Chair/Head AC/Professor

Office: Health and Natural Sciences, 469, Dahlonega


Dr. Sue Klappa is a professor in the Doctor of Physical Therapy Program at the University of North Georgia in Dahlonega. She completed her Ph.D. in Education, Curriculum & Instruction from the University of Minnesota with a focus on community engagement and international education. Sue earned her Masters of Physical Therapy degree from St. Catherine University (formerly The College of St. Catherine). She also holds a Master’s degree in physical education with an emphasis in cardiac rehabilitation.

Dr. Klappa is a PT educator and clinician who has practiced physical therapy and presented internationally. Dr. Klappa has had 6 tours of service to Haiti after the 2010 earthquake. She has worked in outpatient clinics, at a Level I trauma center, and in disaster relief tent hospitals with patients with neurological, cardiopulmonary, integumentary and other problems. She has also led and facilitated many service learning/community engagement experiences for student PTs and PTAs in the Dominican Republic, Venezuela, Honduras, Mexico, and Haiti. Dr. Klappa has developed many educational sessions as well as pro bono campo and batey community-health clinics in the Dominican Republic, Venezuela, Nicaragua, and Honduras.

Dr. Klappa’s research interests explore how interprofessional collaboration, global health work, and international community engagement influence the formation of professional identity among physical therapists. Community-based participatory research in physical therapy is also another topic of interest.


  • Ph.D., Education, Curriculum & Instruction: Family, Youth, & Community, University of Minnesota, 2010
  • MPT, Physical Therapy, The College of St. Catherine, 1994
  • M.A., Physical Education, University of Minnesota, 1984
  • B.A., Biology, Hamline University, 1978


Selected Peer-Reviewed Papers

Adams JS, Nelson HM, Strong E, Wisco JJ, Klappa SG. A mentor’s experience in teaching basic science concepts in the community outreach program, Anatomy Academy: A phenomenological study. A manuscript submitted to Human Anatomy and Physiology Society Educator Journal HAPS. July 1, 2020. 

Klappa SG, Thompson JAI, Blatt S. Unmasking Parkinson’s Disease: The relationship of grit, exercise, and quality of life. Manuscript submitted to the Journal of Patient Experience. June 1, 2020. DOI: 10.1177/2374373520937171

Klappa SG, Quach BV, Steele J, Harper C. Beyond Words: Understanding grit in survivors of stroke & caregivers. Journal of Patient Experience. 2020;7(6):1-8. DOI: 10.1177/2374373520902662

Klappa SG, Alles YB, Klappa SP. DPT program stages an art show: Using art to develop a heart for the profession of physical therapy. The Journal of Humanities in Rehabilitation. May 2, 2017. Spring 2017: The Journal of Humanities in Rehabilitation.

Klappa SG, Crocker R, Hughes L, Thompson J, Klappa SP. Predicting compassion fatigue: A model for disaster relief workers. HPA PTJ PAL. January 2016;15(4):J1-J18.

Xia R, Stone J, Hoffman J, Klappa S. Promoting community health and eliminating health disparities through community-based participatory research. Physical Therapy. 2016;96(3):410-417. DOI: 10.2522/ptj.20140529.

Selected Peer-Reviewed Presentations

Saaei F, Klappa S. Rethinking Telerehabilitation: An introduction to a new innovative platform. (Poster Presentation presented at the World Physiotherapy Congress, April 9-11, 2021, Dubai, United Arab Emirates).

Klappa S. “Afraid of the Dark” Qualitative Research Class Opens Discussion on Race, Social Responsibility, and Justice. (Poster presentation presented at the American Physical Therapy Association Virtual Combined Sections Meeting February 2021.)

Klappa SG. Patients & students beyond the campfire: Redefining participation & professional roles through Pro Bono stroke camp experiences. (Platform presentation presented at the American Physical Therapy Association Educational Leadership Conference October 15-18, 2020, Milwaukee, WI. PTLI Innovator Award)

Klappa SG, Walsh D, McCall SA, Castle K, Walton-Mouw R. Formula for Community Inclusion = D3STAR: Drumming, Dogs, and Dance. (Educational session presented at the American Physical Therapy Association NEXT 2020 Meeting, June 3-6, 2020, Phoenix, AZ.) Additionally, presented as a special live online event (Thursday, July 23, 8 pm ET.)

Walsh D, Walker S, Goodfellow GN, Young A, Klappa SG. Catalyzing Change: Drum Circle Beats Down Chronic Pain & Builds Community. (Research Poster presented at the American Physical Therapy Association Combined Sections Meeting, February 12-15, 2020, Denver, CO.) HPA Section Global Health SIG Social Responsibility Research Award.

Klappa SG, York B. Beyond muscles and bones: Holistic physical therapy practice self-care 101. (Educational session presented at the American Physical Therapy Association NEXT 2019 Meeting, June 12-15, 2019, Chicago, IL).

Schmitt L, Cross P, Smith D, Klappa SG. Preparing PT students to be the most medical locally, nationally, and globally. (Educational session presented at the American Physical Therapy Association NEXT 2019 Meeting, June 12-15, 2019, Chicago, IL).

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