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Inseparably Interconnected: The Role of Physical Therapy in Elevating Mental Health


Course Description:

Contemporary physical therapy practice includes assessing and addressing the mental health needs of our clientele. Physical and mental health are inseparably interconnected yet entry-level physical therapy programs do not require explicit instruction in this area and PT providers may avoid difficult conversations surrounding mental health challenges given a lack of confidence or knowledge on how to help. Physical therapy providers are critical team members for individuals impacted by mental health challenges.

This session provides the learner with foundational knowledge of common mental health challenges including anxiety and depression and presents substantial supporting evidence demonstrating the power of exercise and other PT interventions to reduce the impact of these challenges in populations across the lifespan and specialty settings. Current initiatives will serve as case examples to demonstrate the impact physical therapy provides in a variety of settings. The session will conclude with small group discussions designed so that each learner will leave with plans to promote the connection between physical therapy and mental health in their home communities.

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Teaching Method:
Case Study, Lecture and Small Group Discussions

Assessment of Learning:
Audience Polling, Practical Application and Small Group Discussions

Learning Objectives:
1. Describe historical background of the connection between physical therapy and mental health both in the US and globally.
2. Explain and apply evidence to administer physical therapy interventions to address mental health challenges.
3. Design creative initiatives using physical therapy as part of a comprehensive treatment for individuals across the lifespan with mental health challenges.

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  • Mary Beth Abraham Osborne PT, DPT

    Mary Beth Osborne earned both her BS and DPT in physical therapy from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and is a board-certified specialist in neurologic physical therapy. She is currently an assistant professor in residence at the University of Connecticut in the Doctor of Physical Therapy program and involved in teaching courses in the neurologic rehabilitation and health/wellness domains. She is also the associate director of clinical education. She previously served as the co-director of Duke University Health’s neurologic PT residency program and worked as an outpatient neurologic PT where she provided care to individuals with a variety of neurologic conditions including concussion, stroke, degenerative diseases and vestibular dysfunction. She holds a strong interest in promoting exercise as a key component in the care of individuals with mental health challenges. She has held positions with the Academy of Neurologic PT including chair of the Brain Injury Special Interest Group, and served as a \ nominating committee member for the Residency and Fellowship Special Interest Group. She is currently the co-chair of the Neurology SIG for the Connecticut APTA. She has presented at local and national conferences on a number of topics in the neurologic PT realm.

  • Connie Collins Johnson PT, DScPT

    Dr Johnson is a school based physical therapist and LEND faculty at Virginia Commonwealth University. She is ABPTS Board Certified, LEND trainee and received her MSPT from Springfield College And DScPT from University of Maryland. She’s an advocate for health, fitness, and eliminating disparities to achieve employment for youth with disabilities. She has published in peer reviewed journals on fitness of youth with disabilities, case studies on work capacity evaluation and Use of the Guide to Physical Therapist Practice. She is an active member of the Academy of Pediatric Physical therapy where she is co chair of the Practice Development Committee and a member of the school and AADA SIGs. She is the creator of Fit4Work.

November 2, 2024
Sat 8:30 AM EDT
Old Dominion University Health Sciences Building 2 1019 W. 41st St. Norfolk VA 23529

Duration 2H 0M

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