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Featured Researchers

Interested in the California Physical Therapy Fund’s research study grant program?

One of the major functions of the California Physical Therapy Fund, Inc. (Fund) is to promote and support research studies that will enhance the profession of physical therapy. This is provided through grants for approved research activities. Up to four times a year, the CAL-PT-FUND chooses a FUND grant recipient as a Featured Researcher.

Featured Researcher: Beth Smith, PT, DPT, PhD

Variability in Infant Leg Movement Behavior Across 7 Days
“We determined 1) how many days are necessary to represent an infant’s typical daily leg movement performance, and 2) if there a difference between weekdays and weekend days. We used wearable sensors to collect 7 consecutive days of leg movement activity from 10 infants with typical development. We identified each leg movement, and its average acceleration, peak acceleration, and duration. We used Bland-Altman plots to compare 1 day to more days and weekdays to weekend days. Our results suggest the best option is to collect data for two consecutive days, and that weekdays and weekend days are not different.”

Beth Smith, PT, DPT, PhD, received her Doctor of Physical Therapy from Boston University in 2005 and a Doctor of Kinesiology from University of Michigan in 2009. She was a Neurology Fellow at Oregon Health & Science University. She is currently an Assistant Professor of Research at the University of Southern California where she directs the Infant Neuromotor Control Laboratory. She focuses on the development of neural control of movement during infancy and evaluates interventions for neural and functional development in infants with or at risk for developmental delay.

Past Researchers

Susan Sigward, PT, PhD, is an Associate Professor in the Division of Biokinesiology & Physical Therapy at the University of Southern California and is the Director of the division’s Human Performance Laboratory. She practiced for 10 years in orthopedics and sports medicine before returning to get her PhD in Biokinesiology.

Does Early Gait Training Improve Lower Extremity Sagittal Plane Loading Following Anterior Cruciate Ligament Reconstruction?

“My research focuses on rehabilitation following anterior cruciate ligament reconstruction (ACLr), with a specific emphasis on the effects of early rehabilitation interventions on long-term outcomes. The persistence of altered knee joint loading during gait and functional activities up to 24 months post ACLr suggest that current rehabilitation programs are not adequately resolving motor impairments. These strategies are often observed in the absence of joint level impairments suggesting that they may be the result of motor adaptions that occur during early recovery and rehabilitation."

Timothy J. Gilleran, PT, DPTSc, is Adjunct Assistant Professor in the Doctor Physical Therapy Program at Samuel Merritt University. He received a post-professional doctoral degree (DPTSc) in Physical Therapy Science in 2013 and was an Orthopaedic Manual Therapy and Musculoskeletal Primary Care Fellow at Kaiser Permanente in Vallejo.

The Effects of Recurrent Lateral Ankle Sprains on the Biomechanics and Cartilage Biomechanical Structure of Ankle and Knee Joints

“Recurrent lateral ankle sprains (RLAS) are linked to disturbances in postural control and alterations in ankle and knee joint biomechanics. This study investigated the effects of these collective problems on ankle and knee cartilage biochemistry in participants with and without RLAS. Ipsilateral ankle and knee joints were scanned with a 3T MR scanner and quantitative analysis was performed to examine established biomarkers for proteoglycan (T1ρ), collagen and water (T2) content. This is the first study to identify significant group differences in ankle and knee cartilage T1ρ and T2 relaxation times in participants with RLAS. These data will serve as pilot data for extramural funding.”

Kay Cerny, PT, PhD, currently serves as an advisor for student research projects at the University of California, Long Beach. She previously served as Chair of the CSULB Physical Therapy Department for 10 years.

Adaptions During the Stance Phase of Gait for Simulated Flexion Contractures at the Knee and Reliability and Criterion-Related Validity of Hand-Held Dynamometry in Measuring Inversion and Eversion Strength of the Foot

"I received funding for my dissertation research on the Adaptions during the stance phase of gait for simulated flexion contractures at the knee. My research was published in Orthopedics. I then received funding for a study on the reliability and criterion-related validity of hand-held dynamometry in measuring inversion and eversion strength of the foot. I believe the future of physical therapy is dependent upon evidence to support its efficacy. Although most practicing therapists are not in environments that support them to perform research, I believe they are still responsible to advance the evidence in physical therapy. They can do this by financially supporting research. The PT Fund supports early researchers so they begin to establish themselves enough to earn grant support from larger entities."

Jill Stewart, PT, PhD, is currently an Assistant Professor of Exercise Science at the University of South Carolina and is the Director of the Motor Behavior and Neuroimaging Laboratory. She practiced as a physical therapist for several years before returning to graduate school. She received her PhD in Biokinesiology from the University of Southern California and completed a postdoctoral research fellowship in Neurology at the University of California, Irvine.

Planning Reach Actions After Sensorimotor Stroke: Relationship Between Behavioral Performance and Lesion Characteristics

“The CAL-PT-FUND Grant I received supported my doctoral research project on the use of planning to control reach distance after stroke. The grant provided me with the funds needed to successfully complete this project, including the acquisition of structural brain images which proved vital to successful publication of the project results.”

Dr. Stewart has continued her research based on the results of her initial project and was published in Sage Journals in 2017.