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Post Professional Doctor of Physical Therapy Curriculum

Each student in the program will be required to complete 44 credit hours consisting of the following:

Curriculum and Courses:

Core Courses

23 credit hours in courses that cover content areas that were not typically addressed in physical therapy education programs prior to implementation of the DPT as the first professional degree. 

Specialty Clinical Practice Courses

These courses that make up 18 credit hours are the initial phase of the program that will emphasize courses in musculoskeletal physical therapy. As the program develops, additional specialty courses will be added.

Elective Courses

3 credit hours of courses designed to provide exposure to clinical specialty areas other than the area selected by the student. These courses will be utilized in the future as the foundation for additional clinical specializations. Initially, Alternative and Complementary Medicine in PT will be offered as an elective. 

Summary of courses
CourseCourse TypeCredit HoursPrerequisitesDelivery
Biostatistics and Research Methods  Core 3 None Online
Evidence-Based Practice  Core 3 Biostatistics and Research Methods Online
Clinical Pharmacology for Physical Therapists Core 3 None Online
Diagnostic Imaging and Laboratory Values for Physical Therapists Core 3 None Online
Primary Care Skills – Primary Care and Physical Examination for Physical Therapists  Core 3 None On Campus
Differential Diagnosis and Clinical Reasoning for Physical Therapists Core 3 None Online
Research Project  Core 3 Biostatistics and Research Methods, Evidence-Based Practice Online
Advanced Neurological Rehab Core 2 None On Campus
Musculoskeletal I – Extremity Disorders and Sports Injuries  Specialty 5 None On Campus
Musculoskeletal II – Spine and Pelvis Dysfunction Specialty 5 Musculoskeletal I – Extremity Disorders and Sports Injuries  On Campus
Pelvic Floor Dysfunction and Incontinence Specialty 3 None On Campus
Physical Therapy in Pediatric Orthopedics  Specialty 2 None Online
Advanced Physical Therapy for Neuromuscular with Emphasis on Peripheral Vestibular Disorders, Cervicogenic Dizziness, and Cervicogenic Headache Specialty 3 None On Campus
Alternative and Complementary Medicine in Physical Therapy  Elective 3 None On Campus
Special Topics on Advanced Clinical Practice Elective 3 None Online

Course Descriptions

Biostatistics and Research Methods

This course provides foundational principals and advanced concepts of clinical research as it relates to critical inquiry of articles for consumers of research literature and implementing clinical research through designing and conducting valid scientific investigations.  The focus of this course will be on understanding concepts of research process, experimental designs, hypothesis construction and testing, measurement scales, indices of validity and reliability, sampling, statistical analysis, and interpretation of reported statistics.

Evidence Based Practice

This course is designed to prepare students with the knowledge and skills necessary for adopting a dynamic clinical practice based on valid scientific evidence.  Students will learn about strengths and weaknesses of evidence-based practice and will have a deep understanding of  potential opportunities and threats of implementing evidence-based practice in clinical settings.  This course will focus performing systematic reviews of literature. Students will be required to formulate a clinical question, search the medical data bases, appraise the evidence and perform a systematic review of literature to provide conclusive evidence for validity, efficiency and effectiveness of a diagnostic test or clinical intervention. 

Clinical Pharmacology for Physical Therapists

This course includes pertinent clinical pharmacology for physical therapists working with patients with body systems’ dysfunction, including musculoskeletal, cardiopulmonary, integumentary and neuromuscular. Other systems, GI/GU, endocrine, and psychological will also be explored. Pharmacokinetics and pharmacodynamics will emphasize the indications/ contraindications of various drugs relative to their effect on diagnosis, prognosis, and interventions in physical therapy. Additionally, physiological process will be studied with particular emphasis on changes that occur secondary to variables such as age, environment, race, and gender.

Clinical Diagnostic Imaging and Laboratory Values

This course is designed to provide understanding of fundamental principles of diagnostic imaging and interpretation of laboratory values. The focus of the section on diagnostic imaging is on providing student with the skill necessary for understanding and interpretation of electrocardiogram, electromyography, radiographic imaging, computed tomography, magnetic resonance imaging and diagnostic ultrasound as it relates to various musculoskeletal conditions. The emphasis of the section on laboratory values is to improve student understanding of common normal and abnormal laboratory findings and how they affect neuromusculoskeletal functions. Students should be prepared to integrate the findings of these diagnostic utilities into clinical decision making.

Patient Care Skills - Primary Care and Physical Examination for Physical Therapists

This course is designed to provide physical therapists with a framework for patient examination with respect to clinical reasoning , differential diagnosis and decision making.  Models of physical therapy patient care management and cultural competence, as essential elements for health care providers are examined in depth.  The focus of the course is on: 1) screening examination for assessing normal and abnormal vital signs;  and 2) performing patient interview and review of systems for identifying potential health risk factors.  

Differential Diagnosis and Clinical Reasoning for Physical Therapists

This course is designed to prepare the student with the knowledge and expertise to competently screen for systemic diseases, interpret clinical findings and differentially diagnose movement related impairments from medical conditions that can mimic symptoms of neuromusculoskeletal problems. This course enables the student to make sound clinical judgment for initiating a physical therapy intervention or providing appropriate referral when the patient care is beyond the scope of physical therapy practice. The course will emphasize incorporating principles of clinical prediction rules and properties of diagnostic tests such as sensitivity, specificity, likelihood ratios and predictive values for making accurate diagnostic decisions according to the best available evidence.  

Research Project

In this course, the process of scientific inquiry is expanded to include critical review of literature related to tests, measures, and interventions used by physical therapists under the supervision of a core faculty member in the Doctor of Physical Therapy Program. The focus of this course is on developing a research question and completing a research proposal including a brief synthesis of relevant literature and methodology for a capstone project. Students will present a proposal for a case study or a small sample research project, obtain the institutional review board approval, complete the proposed study, and write a research report on their findings.   

Advanced Neurological Rehab

This course emphasizes advanced neuromuscular evaluation and treatment rationales and principles related across the lifespan. Emphasis is on principles of normal movement and maintenance of posture, their application to abnormal central nervous system function in individuals with a variety of neurological pathologies including CVA's, Parkinson's disease, MS, Alzheimer's, Huntington's disease, spinal cord injuries and peripheral nerve injuries. This course includes contemporary concepts of motor control as well as traditional neurodevelopment approaches. Specific approaches and innovative contemporary interventions are selected for application in the development of comprehensive rehabilitation plans.

Musculoskeletal I – Extremity Disorders and Sports Injuries

This course will address physical therapy examination, evaluation and treatment of common sports injuries and musculoskeletal conditions of the peripheral joints. Current evidence regarding tests and measures will be emphasized to assist in differential diagnosis of common musculoskeletal conditions. Evidence-based treatments for conservative and post-surgical interventions will be discussed, applied and practice in   case scenarios. Various interventions including, but not limited to, manual techniques (thrust and non-thrust joint mobilization, soft tissue mobilization, muscle energy technique, dry needling, etc.) ambulation and functional activity progression, and therapeutic exercise will be emphasized.  

Musculoskeletal II – Spine and Pelvis Dysfunction

This course will address physical therapy evaluation, assessment and rehabilitation of spine including pelvis, lumbar, thoracic, rib cage, cervical and temporomandibular joint regions. The concepts of clinical reasoning and differential diagnosis related to spine disorders will be emphasized. Students will be introduced to various therapeutic techniques including, but not limited to, spinal mobilization (Grades I - V), muscle energy techniques, myokinematic concept, soft tissue mobilization, manual and mechanical traction, dry needling and therapeutic exercise.  

Pelvic Floor Dysfunction and Incontinence

This course addresses the physical therapy examination, evaluation, intervention, outcome assessment, and management of pelvic floor dysfunction and incontinence associated with multi-system impairments (musculoskeletal, neuromuscular, gastrointestinal and genitourinary). The focus of the course will be on addressing incontinence and sexual dysfunctions in both male and female population of different ages. Clinical anatomy and pathophysiology of the genitourinary system with emphasis on incontinence and sexual dysfunctions will be discussed.   Students will practice pelvic floor examination on educational models and will practice neuromuscular and musculoskeletal approaches for pelvic joint alignment and exercise prescription in class and lab sessions. 

Physical Therapy in Pediatric Orthopedics

The focus of this course is to introduce students to various musculoskeletal pathologies in infant, childhood, and adolescent ages. Emphasis is placed on early detection and prevention of spine and peripheral joint deformities in these age groups.  Various therapeutic techniques for correcting scoliosis, torticollis and peripheral joint deformities will be studied through a series of case discussions and on line presentations.

Advanced Physical Therapy for Neuromuscular and Vestibular Disorders

The intent of this course is to enhance the the practitioner’s skill in examination and treatment of cervicogenic, central and peripheral vestibular disorders as it relates to dizziness and balance disorders. This course emphasizes on using the anatomy and physiology principles for identifying the most appropriate diagnosis and treatment techniques of vestibular disorders. 

Students expand their knowledge of a neurologic evaluation of the causes of dizziness, falls and types of imbalance and they will learn how the vestibular ocular reflex and the central nervous system influence balance disorders with a variety of vestibular conditions, such as  unilateral vestibular loss, benign paroxysmal positional vertigo, Meniere’s disease , cervicogenic vertigo, vestibular hypofunction, and vestibular neuritis.  Students will implement evidence-based evaluation for differential diagnosis and for treatment of vestibular dysfunctions, as it relates to balance, headache and dizziness, through case presentation and lab practice. This course will serve as a prerequisite to advanced certification provided by the University of North Georgia for interested students.

Alternative and Complementary Medicine in Physical Therapy

The focus of this elective course is on introducing students to use of alternative and complimentary medicine treatment of neuromusculoskeletal conditions. Various alternative techniques including dry needling,  craniosacral therapy, visceral manipulation and biofield therapy will be addressed.

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