Community-Based Grant Awarded to FSC's School of Physical Therapy

Sep 25, 2019

by FSC Staff

The Florida Physical Therapy Association (FPTA) has awarded a Catherine E. Patla Community Awareness Grant of nearly $14,000 to Florida Southern College’s new School of Physical Therapy.

This grant is administered to reflect the commitment of the FPTA to assist Florida’s physical therapists and physical therapist assistants in their relations with patients and the general public, and in support of community-based projects that increase public awareness of the physical therapy profession. Special consideration is given to projects that help patients avoid further mobility limitations and which restore and improve their long-term quality of life.

Dr. Prisca Collins, associate professor and director of community engagement for the School of Physical Therapy, is the principal investigator and lead researcher for the grant project. She worked closely with Dr. Nancy Nuzzo, dean and program director for the School of Physical Therapy, and Dr. Maria Torres-Palsa, assistant professor.

The FPTA’s Community Awareness Grant will be used to fund local outreach efforts that have been underway for months, Dr. Collins said, explaining that faculty members had begun providing services to uninsured and underinsured individuals within Polk County in January 2019.

Faculty members interacted with clients at a variety of locations, Dr. Collins said, including Lakeland Volunteers in Medicine (LVIM), One More Child (a division of the Florida Baptist Children’s Homes), Volunteers in Service to the Elderly (VISTE), and Parkview Outreach Community Center in Haines City, providing physical therapy services and general education about wellness and health.

“We discovered that a good proportion of our clients had challenges with maintaining healthy weight and healthy blood pressure values,” Dr. Collins said. “The grant will allow us to hire a part-time physical therapist and a part-time community health promoter, who can help us work more closely with the clients. It will also pay for the development of educational materials.”

Clients who enroll in the community-based program receive individualized assessments and physical activity sessions for 6 weeks, followed by bimonthly group activities and phone check-ins for 6 months. The program’s main objectives are to empower clients to adopt active lifestyles and effectively manage their weight and blood pressure, and through these interactions to become more aware of the role of physical therapists in the promotion of good health.