Two USF physical therapy students selected as first MS Step Up scholars

Two students at the USF School of Physical Therapy & Rehabilitation Sciences have been selected as the first scholars in Florida to participate in the Multiple  Sclerosis Standardized Training and Education Program (MS Step Up).

Jordan Luther and Beth Tillman will each receive $3,500 one-year scholarships from National Multiple Sclerosis Society, Mid Florida Chapter, to support additional coursework, faculty mentoring and clinical training in multiple sclerosis. They will also conduct community service activities with the National MS Society and observe with MS specialists.

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USF DPT students Jordan Luther, left, and Beth Tillman

Recognizing the urgent need for physical therapists with specialized knowledge, expertise and experience in treating multiple sclerosis, USF teamed up with National MS Society, Mid Florida Chapter, to create the first MS Step Up Program in the state.  The program was modeled after the original program developed at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Both Luther and Tillman recently completed their first year of USF’s rigorous three-year Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) degree program. They have expressed strong interest in specializing in multiple sclerosis and working in neurorehabilitation in the Tampa Bay region.

Multiple sclerosis is a chronic, often-disabling disease that attacks the central nervous system.

Physical therapists with advanced training in multiple sclerosis can identify ways to help restore quality of life and teach patients exercises to stretch and strengthen muscles, reduce pain and improve mobility.

“Physical therapy is often the only intervention that can positively impact people living with MS who have not optimally responded to pharmacological advances and can be very helpful in lessening the secondary symptoms of MS,” said Jeannie Stephenson, PT, MS, NCS, of the USF School of Physical Therapy & Rehabilitation Sciences, who coordinates the MS Step Up Program with Stephanie Walgamott, director of marketing and special programs for the National MS Society, Mid Florida Chapter.