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Research Director Honored with Two National Physical Therapy Awards

Director of spinal cord injury research recognized for her contributions to evidence-based practice.

The American Physical Therapy Association (APTA) Section on Research has announced that Edelle Field-Fote, PT, Ph.D., FAPTA, Shepherd Center’s director of spinal cord injury research, is the recipient of the 2015 John P. Maley Award for her long-time leadership in physical therapy research.

Also, the APTA announced it is recognizing Dr. Field-Fote with this year’s Neurology Section Award for Excellence in Research. This award acknowledges and honors continuing excellence in research related to neurologic physical therapy science, theory, practice or education.

“Because the population of people with spinal cord injury is relatively small compared to other clinical populations [such as the stroke population, for example], research in this area often doesn’t receive a great deal of attention. For this reason, these awards are especially meaningful to me,” said Dr. Field-Fote, who accepted the awards at the APTA Combined Sections Meeting on Feb. 6. “Having served as an officer in both the Section on Research and the Neurology Section, these groups have a very special place in my heart. Both Sections have long had strong commitments to the advancement of evidence-based practice in physical therapy, and to have my colleagues in both these Sections recognize my work – in the same year – is a real thrill.”

Dr. Field-Fote has contributed to the research foundations of clinical practice in numerous ways, the APTA noted. She has been principal investigator on several National Institutes of Health research grants and a co-investigator or collaborator on numerous other projects. She has published more than 40 peer-reviewed articles and is the author/editor of a widely respected textbook on spinal cord injury rehabilitation.

“More important than the quantity of her grants and publications, is the quality,” the APTA said. “Her research intentionally emphasizes questions that are directly relevant to neurologic physical therapist practice. Her studies focus on comparing outcomes of different physical therapy interventions, and assessing adjuvant interventions that are intended to augment the effectiveness of practice and training. Her move to join Shepherd Center in 2014 was motivated by her desire to work more closely with her physical therapist colleagues in translating research to clinical practice.

“Beyond her individual contributions, what truly sets Dr. Field-Fote apart is the impact she has had on neurologic physical therapy research in general,” the APTA added. “As editor-in-chief of the Journal of Neurologic Physical Therapy (JNPT), she has had a tremendous positive impact on the application of research findings to clinical practice. Under Dr. Field-Fote’s leadership, JNPT has blossomed. Through her role as editor-in-chief, she provided the direction and momentum to strategically move JNPT through the rigorous application and review process to obtain an impact factor for the first time. This year’s impact factor places JNPT among the top five international rehabilitation journals.

“Through this tremendous accomplishment, as well as her own research contributions, Dr. Field-Fote plays a key role in furthering evidence-based practice throughout the physical therapy profession,” the APTA said.

Dr. Field-Fote became the director of spinal cord injury research at Shepherd Center in May 2014. For the past two decades, she was the director of the Neuromotor Rehabilitation Research Laboratory at the Miami Project to Cure Paralysis. She has a bachelor's degree in physical therapy from the University of Miami, a master's degree in environmental health and safety from the University of Miami, a doctorate in movement science from Washington University in St. Louis and a post-doctoral fellowship in motor control physiology from the Miami Project to Cure Paralysis. Dr. Field-Fote's research has focused on restoring walking and hand function after spinal cord injury by making maximal use of spinal pathways not damaged by injury.

About Shepherd Center

Shepherd Center provides world-class clinical care, research, and family support for people experiencing the most complex conditions, including spinal cord and brain injuries, multi-trauma, traumatic amputations, stroke, multiple sclerosis, and pain. An elite center recognized as both Spinal Cord Injury and Traumatic Brain Injury Model Systems, Shepherd Center is ranked by U.S. News as one of the nation’s top hospitals for rehabilitation. Shepherd Center treats thousands of patients annually with unmatched expertise and unwavering compassion to help them begin again.