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October 2002

Release Date: October 30, 2002

ASU Physical Therapy Program Receives Full, 5-Year Accreditation

Angelo State University received word Wednesday (Oct. 30) that its Master of Physical Therapy Program has earned full, five-year accreditation from the Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education (CAPTE).

Word came in a phone call that Dr. Kathleen Cegles, head of the ASU Physical Therapy Department, had been working and waiting more than three years to receive. Full accreditation was the culmination of an idea that originated among San Angelo health care providers in the 1992-93 academic year to start a program at ASU to help address the shortage of physical therapists in the region.

ASU President Dr. James Hindman welcomed the news and congratulated not only Dr. Cegles and the physical therapy faculty but also the community.

"In my many years in higher education at Angelo State and six other universities," Hindman said, "I can think of no other project that so vividly demonstrates what can be accomplished when a university and a community work so closely together toward a common goal. From the original idea and seed money provided by the community to the accreditation announcement today, this has been a cooperative effort that the university and the community can both take pride in."

Cegles said the accreditation ensures that ASU's educational program in physical therapy has met all standards on the criteria used to evaluate such programs nationally. Cegles was especially pleased that the ASU program received accreditation from CAPTE for five years, the longest period granted by the body for initial accreditation. The department will receive a detailed written report from CAPTE in approximately three weeks with any suggestions for ASU's program.

The department will have to report to CAPTE next year on the performance of its graduates on the physical therapy licensure exams, but that is the only remaining step in this three-year process which began after the department's establishment in 1999 and included on-site visits in 2000 and in August of this year as well as completion of a 400-page preliminary report and a 500-plus-page self-study by the department. These studies provided in-depth detail on curriculum structure, faculty qualifications, equipment availability and university and departmental facilities.

"There are many people to thank for our success," Cegles said, "but I would like first to acknowledge our students. They took a risk in enrolling in our program because without a degree from an accredited program they would not have been able to take the National Physical Therapy Exam necessary for licensure to practice. Their faith in Angelo State University and the physical therapy faculty made us work all the harder for this moment. I can think of no greater group of students to share this success with than those in our program today."

Throughout the accreditation process, the CAPTE visitors and reviewers have been overwhelmed by the unprecedented level of community support for the program, Cegles said. She noted that the contributions of West Texas Rehabilitation Center, Baptist Memorials, Shannon Medical Center, San Angelo Community Health Center and the San Angelo Health Foundation provided operating monies before state funding was available and allowed the department to buy state-of-the-art equipment to furnish various labs and treatment areas.

"Though starting a new department is a massive undertaking, starting from scratch meant that we were able to put together a curriculum that incorporates the most modern theories and techniques of physical therapist education," Cegles said. "The community support meant that we were able to renovate the facilities and to acquire the equipment necessary to match the curriculum."

The problem-oriented, competency-based curriculum follows the newest curricular model published by the American Physical Therapy Association, Cegles said. "The Normative Model for Physical Therapist Education: Version 2000," as it is called, combines classroom instruction with realistic physical therapy cases in a laboratory setting. Most physical therapy programs still follow the traditional model of teaching separate courses that do not fully link clinical concepts to the classroom instruction. By contrast ASU student physical therapists receive pharmacology, radiology, geriatrics, integumentary, cardiopulmonary, musculoskeletal and neurosensory system instruction integrated throughout the entire curriculum and as part of their ongoing clinical and classroom experience.

The department's newly renovated facilities in the Center for Human Performance include contemporary motion analysis, neuromuscular, musculoskeletal, human performance and hydrotherapy laboratories that will be used for both faculty and graduate student research. These facilities house a state-of-the art metabolic cart, cardiac monitors, neuromuscular rehabilitation equipment and exercise equipment for enhanced rehabilitation of pediatric to geriatric clients with movement dysfunction. Once the motion analysis laboratory is fully equipped, it will be the only such facility in the region. The next closest motion analysis laboratory for education, research and clinical work is in San Antonio.

Cegles also noted the excellent mix of educational, research and clinical experience the PT faculty members have provided ASU and the local community. The department boasts two American Board of Physical Therapy Specialties certified specialists, one in pediatrics and one in geriatrics. In addition, three faculty have educational doctorates and two have doctorates in philosophy.

The faculty mix also includes a blend of seasoned educational faculty with those who have stronger clinical backgrounds, she said. Further, ASU has been able to attract physical therapy faculty from throughout the nation, enabling students to receive a variety of input and perspectives that add to their educational, clinical and research instruction.

"Ultimately," said Cegles, "accreditation means that CAPTE believes our program will prepare ASU graduates to be effective contemporary practitioners of physical therapy."y