Changing Lives [VIDEO]

The USF School of Physical Therapy & Rehabilitation Sciences celebrates 15 years of academic excellence, real-world research and exemplary clinical practice


They shared the stories of how physical therapy had changed their lives with those celebrating the 15th anniversary of the USF School of Physical Therapy & Rehabilitation Sciences.

U.S. Army Sgt. Richard Cicero lost his right arm and leg following an IED blast injury sustained while on foot patrol during his second tour of duty in Afghanistan.  Excruciating back pain sidelined Janise Nichols Man-Son-Hing from the  law enforcement  job she loved in 2010, and she could no longer compete as an amateur equestrian.


Seok Hun Kim, PT, PhD, (left) assistant professor of physical therapy, speaks to a guest trying out the split-belt treadmill in the USF School of Physical Therapy & Rehabilitation Sciences Human Functional Performance Lab.

Both credited USF’s physical therapy researchers and clinicians with helping them overcome the limitations that interfered with them living independent lives.

“I took my first jogging steps down this hallway right here,” said Cicero, who was referred to USF after extensive treatment in military and VA facilities. “And thanks to the people here, I did my first 5K this January.”

Man-Son-Hing had undergone physical therapy, tried medications and consulted with orthopedic physicians – all with virtually no relief – before she was referred to the USF Physical Therapy Center in February 2012. Since then, she has returned to full-time active duty as a law enforcement officer, resumed riding her show horse and, most recently, passed the physical assessment test required to retain her job.

 “Without the dedication of Dr. Kevin Murdoch (coordinator of USF Physical Therapy Center) and his staff, I would not have been able to regain the level of fitness needed to meet the challenges I set for myself and get my life back,” she said.


Heather Hartsell, PhD, PT (white coat), associate professor of physical therapy, with some DPT students from the Class of 2014, left to right: Jared Koenig, Alex Parisi, Mathew Leonard, Kristen Byers, and Ayla Olk-Szost.

William S. Quillen, DPT, welcomed faculty, staff, students and Tampa Bay community members who gathered Friday evening, April 19, to recognize the  to recognize the school’s achievements over the last 15 years and look ahead to an even brighter future.  The interactive event gave attendees a chance to go behind the scenes to tour the school, experience equipment and stations in the Human Functional Performance Laboratory, and visit student and faculty booths.

“Our school has really hit its stride not only in the education of outstanding Doctors of Physical Therapy, but through our real-world, federally-funded research and the stellar practice of our clinical faculty,” said William S. Quillen, DPT, associate dean of the USF Health Morsani College of Medicine and director of the USF School of Physical Therapy and Rehabilitation Sciences.  “We are empowering patients to achieve and restore their mobility and optimal functioning, regardless of their illness or injury.”


Jeannie Stephenson (left), PT, MS, NCS, instructor, checks the balance of anniversary celebration attendee Alix Baughman.

The evening was emceed by Lissette Campos, director of community affairs for WFTS TV-ABC Action News and host of the station’s Positively Tampa Bay show.  Campos pointed to some of the accomplishments in the school’s short yet rapid-paced history:

–          USF was the state’s first public institution to receive authority to award the Doctor of Physical Therapy degree.

–          Admission to the school has become increasingly competitive, with nearly 1,000 applications received for 40 spots in the Class of 2016.

–          The innovative educational program — one of only three physical therapy programs in Florida nationally ranked in the top third of U.S. News & World Report national rankings —  emphasizes an integrated, interprofessional curriculum. DPT students learn alongside medical students in their first year, taught by physicians, nurses, public health professionals and basic scientists.

–          The school’s neuromusculoskeletal research seeks to better understand human function and apply those discoveries to new interventions that work best in real life.  Faculty expertise in prosthetics and low back injury research is intended to benefit everyone from combat wounded veterans, active-duty soldiers and high-performance athletes to people seeking to maintain routine activities of daily living.


William S. Quillen, DPT, PhD, has led the USF School of Physical Therapy & Rehabilitation Sciences since 2004, guiding the school in its upward trajectory.

In looking toward meeting tomorrow’s demands, Dr. Quillen cited several new initiatives underway at the school, including: 

–          A new partnership with the University of West Florida in Pensacola that will help meet a state-identified need for more physical therapists in a largely rural region of Florida.

–          Moving ahead to establish a Clinical Residency in Orthopaedic Physical Therapy at the USF Physical Therapy Center this summer.

–          A proposal to create a research PhD degree in Rehabilitation Sciences for implementation in Fall 2014.

–          Launch of the school’s first scholarship program called Circle of Motion, which includes 30 distinguished corporate and individual partners who will contribute to student success. Dr. Quillen recognized donor Tom Tiedermann, a founding member of the group.


Donna Petersen, DSc, (left) dean of the USF College of Public Health, congratulated the school on improving the lives of people in the community. Lissette Campos (right) of WFTS-TV ABC Action News, was emcee for the anniversary celebration.

“The work being done by the USF School of Physical Therapy & Rehabilitation Sciences is transformational,” Campos said. “Your innovation, passion and outside-the-box thinking changes people’s lives… You don’t just see the patient’s current limitations or loss; you envision what can be gained through hard work and rehabilitation of the body and the spirit.”




L to R: Janise Man-Son-Hing, Richard Cicero, Lissette Campos, and Dr. William S. Quillen.

USF School of Physical Therapy and Rehabilitation Sciences campaign video:

– City of Tampa TV (CCTV) segment on USF Physical Therapy/UWF partnership:  “>

Lead Video by Allyn DiVito, USF Health Information Systems, and photos by Eric Younghans, USF Health Communications