Welcome to the Student page!

Look around this page to see all that APTA Geriatrics has to offer for students! We are currently expanding. Check out our student leadership, student spotlight, student newsletter, resources, and social media to find out where you best fit here! There is a spot for everyone so do not worry, we can help you find where you belong! Check out the video from APTA Geriatrics President who will update you on all we have to offer for students and what it means to be a member at APTA Geriatrics.

Special Interest Groups

Want to get involved but not sure where to start? Get connected to one of our SIGS! 

 

What is SIG?? SIG stands for Special Interest Group. A SIG is designed to connect a group of people who are interested in a specific subsection within a larger organization. Joining a SIG in APTA Geriatrics, allows you to be a part of promoting the advancement, sharing knowledge and developing excellence in a certain area of older adult care. 

 

When joining a SIG you can be as involved as you want! You can be a passive member and take advantage of all the resources that the group is producing OR you can be an active member and get involved in the current research or leadership roles! Utilize the SIG’s to find out what you love most about treating older adults!

 

Here at APTA Geriatrics we have six SIG groups. Click here to learn more about each!

 

  • Balance and Falls
  • Bone Health
  • Cognitive and Mental Health
  • Health Promotion and Wellness
  • Global Health for Ageing Adults
  • Residency and Fellowship

Student Leadership

Still not sure what to do next? Reach out to our student task force via email geriatrics@aptageriatrics.org and let them know more about you and what you love so they can help you find your place here! 

Student graph US Map (2)_page-0001

Still not sure what to do next? Reach out to our student task force via email geriatrics@aptageriatrics.org and let them know more about you and what you love so they can help you find your place here! 

Welcome to the student spotlight! The student spotlight highlights the great things PT students are doing to contribute to our profession. Checkout the current student spotlight below. If you would like to make a contribution, please contact us at geriatrics@aptageriatrics.org.

In this student spotlight, students describe how organizing a falls prevention clinic in their local community improved their clinical exposure to the older adult population.

Alternative Models for Clinical Exposure to Older Adult Population: Adapting in a Post-Pandemic World

by Miguel Musngi, SPT, PTA; Andres Garcia, SPT; Ryan Parthemore, SPT; Colin Pickering, SPT

A CRITICAL PROBLEM ON THE HORIZON
As we enter into our third year of the COVID-19 pandemic, we continue to adapt to meet the changing demands for physical therapy clinical practice, education, and advocacy. Within the world of geriatric physical therapy, clinicians are bracing for the impact of early career professionals entering the workforce with little to no exposure to older adults in a clinical setting. Exposure to older adult populations is essential for student clinicians to feel comfortable treating this often intimidating population and enter into traditionally “geriatrics” settings.1,2 Social distancing and infection control protocols in the acute and long-term care hospital, inpatient rehabilitation, skilled nursing facility, and the home health settings results in limited opportunities for student physical therapy professionals to gain critical experience within these typically “older adult” heavy locations. Combined with the additional impacts of older adults self-delaying access to care in up to 41% of cases,3 and the increased burden that our Post-Acute COVID Sequelae (PASC) cases are placing on healthcare infrastructure,4 the need for well-trained and prepared new clinicians is essential to assist in alleviating the burnout and struggle current clinicians are facing. The question then stands: How do we create meaningful clinical exposure to older adult populations within the continued restrictions of our system?

ONE PROPOSED SOLUTION: BALANCE AND FALLS SCREENING IN GERIATRIC COMMUNITIES
One opportunity to mitigate this crisis is through community balance and falls clinics. One group of Doctor of Physical Therapy students at Governors State University had the opportunity to provide a service project through their course curriculum and they chose to provide a formal presentation to an older adult independent living/assisted living community. The presentation aimed to educate the aging adult patient population, ages 65 and older, on the importance of an annual physical therapy visit to get a functional physical screening/exam with a physical therapist to prevent future injuries. This presentation was followed by a free falls screen provided by the student clinicians using the Center for Disease Control’s Stopping Elderly Accidents, Deaths, and Injury (CDC STEADI) toolkit.

The group discovered that there was missing knowledge in society on the benefits of using direct access in physical therapy care, particularly in the older adult population. The introduction of direct access in Physical Therapy has benefited the healthcare system by allowing patients to bypass the Physician referral process (in most cases), saving both time and money for the patient. Furthermore, direct access allows patient access to a movement specialist that can identify and determine possible movement-related health risks that can prevent further injuries. Thus, an annual visit to a physical therapist would be highly valuable to monitor and prevent serious injuries or functional decline. One susceptible population who would benefit from an annual physical therapy visit is the aging adults, 65 years and older.

The aging adult is vulnerable to financial hardships due to being retired resulting in reduced income and/or lack of retirement funds. A survey of Consumer Finances (SCF), reported that individuals between the ages of 50 to 89 in 2019 had an average retirement savings of $170,600.5 Moreover, a look at the “Report on the Economic Well-Being of U.S Households in 2020-May 2021” stated that only 64% of Americans would be able to afford $400 in emergency expenses.6 In addition to the lack of income that older aging populations face, healthcare is also expensive. In 2014, the cost of staying in a nursing home was $77,000 to $88,000 a year; furthermore, the cost of health care rises quickly as a person ages, spending $25,000 a year at the age of 90.7 However, the most alarming data is that yearly aging adults can have up to 800,000 hospitalizations due to falls.8 In 2015, the medical expenses specifically to falls were estimated to be up to 50 billion dollars.8,9 Hence, the implementation of preventive medicine would benefit the aging adult population due to the rising cost of healthcare plus an income supplemented from retirement funds. In 2021, researchers Hon et al10 performed a systematic review and meta-analysis that observed the cost-effectiveness of direct access compared to physician-first access. The researchers found that direct access decreases the number of required visits for physical therapy, which reduces cost. Additionally, an annual visit would provide early detection of functional decline that may predict falls or other injuries.
The presentation consisted of first identifying biases and stereotypes that the audience had with physical therapy. The audience was asked if they believed that falling is a normal part of aging. This was then followed up with an additional question regarding if the audience had discussed previous falls with their primary physician, if any have occurred? The students quickly realized that aging stereotypes exist even within the demographic that they were aimed towards as everyone in the audience agreed that falling was a part of aging; however, only a handful of the audience members brought up their fall with their physician. Additionally, the majority of the audience believed that the average medical cost for a fall was around $20,000 and was dumbfounded when educated that the average cost was more than $30,000.11 With the audience aware that a fall can be financially catastrophic especially with someone who has multiple falls a year, the Doctor of Physical Therapy students introduced how an annual physical therapy checkup using direct access can provide a cost-effective way to prevent or decrease the amount of falls and other physical ailments they might encounter. On average, direct access can save up to $1000 dollars on doctor fees, additionally, as stated before the prevention of falls can prevent unneeded medical costs.12

To illustrate the value that physical therapy services can bring to older adults, the CDC STEADI was offered for any person who was interested in participating. After filling out the Stay Independent Brochure, participants reviewed their results and fall risk with the Doctor of Physical Therapy students before transitioning into the physical assessments of the 30 Second Chair Rise, Timed-Up-and-Go, and 4-Stage Balance Test. Based on the results of the findings, education was then provided to the participants as far as their deficits, fall risk, and any recommendations for physical therapy services.

IMPACT OF THE EXPERIENCE
While the experience only took up three hours on a Saturday morning for the students, it yielded a tremendous impact. While these students had already successfully completed their older-adult focused didactic curriculum within their program, they quickly realized that learning about older adults and working with older adults in this capacity were two totally different experiences. The students had to adapt their presentation style to meet several learning styles including impaired vision, impaired hearing, and varying health-belief practices within the audience. For the majority of those in the group, this was their first experience working with the older adult population. At first, they were intimidated due to the importance and complexity of the topic. The primary goal was to provide a thorough, but concise presentation that would deliver valuable information on annual physical therapy checkups and direct access. Secondly, we wanted to provide an interactive presentation that would help provide an example on how beneficial seeing a physical therapist can be.

During the STEADI screening portion of the presentation, the students were astonished by how strong and healthy the audience was. One individual who attended was on supplemental oxygen and while she visually appeared frail, she passed each of the physical tests with ease. This assisted to demystify the students’ personal biases about older adults and their capabilities.

STUDENT PERSONAL REFLECTIONS
Creating a community outreach presentation, as well as implementing a balance and falls screening event, can be very intimidating, even for the most experienced of clinicians. The students drove the process from the conception of the idea to the creation of the PPT, and then delivery of the product. Their faculty mentor, Dr. Moyer, was available throughout the process and provided feedback on three occasions prior to the event. This feedback included considering font types of the powerpoint presentation, cadence, and tone of voices during the presentation, and a training session in delivering the STEADI Assessment safely and successfully. The faculty mentor does hold the STEADI training certification.

The following are personal reflections for the students regarding this opportunity:

  • From this experience I gained an appreciation on the importance to advocate and educate the older population on the benefits of physical therapy and correct any prenotions they had. In addition, it was interesting how an annual physical therapy checkup, which can include a STEADI screen, decreases the financial burden on the older adult.
  • Initially, I was unsure if presenting to older adults about the benefits of yearly physical therapy check-ups would be something they valued. It was within minutes that they began to ask questions and show interest in the presentation and the information we had to offer. This was a good learning experience for those who attended as well as for me.
  • Going into the presentation I found it exciting to go out into the community and talk about how Physical Therapy can help improve the quality of life and prevent injury in the older adult population. Overall, it seemed to me that the group really enjoyed our presentation and getting to interact with us. We conveyed the information in a way that was easy to understand for the audience, but also interesting to keep everyone engaged. I think that we helped educate them on how important it is to get an annual physical therapy exam in order to prevent falls. I thought that this was a great experience for everyone.
  • Creating this presentation was very special to me because it made me realize even more how important physical therapy is and how much of a role it can and should play in people’s lives. The idea of an annual screening is a crucial one and I hope that it can be made more known in the future and thus more often utilized. It is better to prevent than to react when it comes to falls.

A CALL TO ACTION FOR CLINICIANS AND EDUCATORS
Physical therapy professionals are incredibly creative and resilient individuals. Despite limited access to traditionally “geriatric” clinical settings, this profession has worked hard to create opportunities for exposure to older adults to prepare them for the demand they will face in their professional and autonomous career. If you are a clinician in one of the aforementioned settings, please consider opportunities to include student physical therapy professionals in your setting outside of the formal clinical experience structure. An investment in our student clinicians is an investment in our patients: past, present, and future.

References

  1. Blackwood J, Sweet C, Martin A. Attitudes Toward Aging of Physical Therapists and Student Physical Therapists. Phys Occup Ther Geriatr. 2014;32(4):281-293.
  2. Reneker JC, Weems K, Scaia V. Effects of an integrated geriatric group balance class within an entry-level Doctorate of Physical Therapy program on students’ perceptions of geriatrics and geriatric education in the United States. J Educ Eval Health Prof. 2016;13. https://e-jsm.org/m/makeCookie.php?url=/m/journal/view.php?number=220
  3. Czeisler MÉ, Marynak K, Clarke KEN, et al. Delay or Avoidance of Medical Care Because of COVID-19-Related Concerns – United States, June 2020. MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep. 2020;69(36):1250-1257.
  4. Groff D, Sun A, Ssentongo AE, et al. Short-term and Long-term Rates of Postacute Sequelae of SARS-CoV-2 Infection: A Systematic Review. JAMA Netw Open. 2021;4(10):e2128568.
  5. Bhutta N, Bricker J, Chang AC et al. Changes in U.S Family Finances from 2016 to 2019: Evidence from the Survey of Consumer Finances. Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System. September 2020. Accessed November 24, 2021. https://www.federalreserve.gov/publications/files/scf20.pdf.
  6. Report on the economic well-being of U.S. households in 2020-May 2021. Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System. May 25, 2021. Accessed November 24, 2021. https://www.federalreserve.gov/publications/2021-economic-well-being-of-us-households-in-2020-executive-summary.htm.
  7. De Nardi M, French E, Jones JB, McCauley J. Medical spending of the US elderly. Fisc Stud. 2016;37(3-4):717-747. doi:10.1111/j.1475-5890.2016.12106
  8. Payers: embrace the value of physical therapy to reduce costs. AJMC. August 12, 2019. Accessed November 24, 2021. https://www.ajmc.com/view/payers-embrace-the-value-of-physical-therapy-to-reduce-costs.
  9. Cost of older adult falls. Centers of Disease Control and Prevention. July 9, 2020. Accessed November 24, 2021. https://www.cdc.gov/falls/data/fall-cost.html.
  10. Hon S, Ritter R, Allen DD. Cost-Effectiveness and Outcomes of Direct Access to Physical Therapy for Musculoskeletal Disorders Compared to Physician-First Access in the United States: Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis. Phys Ther. 2021;101(1):pzaa201. doi:10.1093/ptj/pzaa201
  11. Empowering Healthcare Provider to Reduce Fall Risk. Video. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. https://www.cdc.gov/steadi/provider-training/index.html.
  12. Flynn TW, Smith B, Chou R. Appropriate use of diagnostic imaging in low back pain: a reminder that unnecessary imaging may do as much harm as good. J Orthop Sports Phys Ther. 2011;41(11):838-846. doi:10.2519/jospt.2011.3618

About the Authors

Miguel Musngi, SPT, PTA: Miguel Musngi, SPT (he, him) is a rising third year student at the Governors State University DPT program. Before going back to school, Miguel was a Physical Therapist Assistant in the Chicagoland Area. In addition, he has been a member of the APTA and the IPTA for 8 years. After graduating, Miguel’s goal is to join an interdisciplinary healthcare team in an inpatient setting.
Andres Garcia, SPT: Andres Garcia, SPT is a rising third year student in the Governors State University DPT Program. Andres’s goal is to break into the outpatient setting where he can work with athletes and attain his certification in Strength and Conditioning (CSCS).
Ryan Parthemore, SPT: Ryan Parthemore, SPT, is a rising third year student in the Governors State University DPT Program. Upon graduation, he hopes to work in a sports medicine outpatient setting.
Colin Pickering, SPT: Colin Pickering is a rising third year student in the Governors State University DPT Program. Colin’s mission is to start an outpatient clinic and create a positive environment for patients that will motivate and more speedily return each to prior function.

Student Created Geriatrics Brochures

Clinical Resouces

Medication Adherence

Weathering Dementia

Exercise with Heart

Urinary Incontinence

Stroke Risk Factors

Peparing for Knee Replacement

Let’s Prevent Osteoporosis

Vision and Aging

Dehydration is Bad.

Foot Care 101

Managing Multiple Medications

Osteoarthritis

Exercise and Cardiovascular Health

Preventing Falls

Foot Care With Diabetes

Deep Vein Thrombosis

Is Your Diet Balanced?

When Do I Need to Have My Knee Replaced ?

Living with Osteoporosis

Benefits of Pet Therapy

Driver Safety

Urinary Incontinence

Joint Replacement

Aquatic Therapy for Ageing Adults

Spinal Stenosis

Strengthening for Seniors

Sarcopenia in the Ageing Adult

Living Healthy After Menopause

Preparing for a Joint Replacement with Pre-operative Rehabilitation

Medication Adherence

Weathering Dementia

Exercise with Heart

Urinary Incontinence

Stroke Risk Factors

Peparing for Knee Replacement

Let’s Prevent Osteoporosis

Vision and Aging

Dehydration is Bad.

Foot Care 101

Managing Multiple Medications

Osteoarthritis

Exercise and Cardiovascular Health

Preventing Falls

Foot Care With Diabetes

Deep Vein Thrombosis

Is Your Diet Balanced?

When Do I Need to Have My Knee Replaced?

Living with Osteoporosis

Benefits of Pet Therapy

Driver Safety

Urinary Incontinence

Joint Replacement

Aquatic Therapy for Ageing Adults

Spinal Stenosis

Strengthening for Seniors

Sarcopenia in the Ageing Adult

Living Healthy After Menopause

Preparing for a Joint Replacement with Pre-operative Rehabilitation

Medication Adherence

Annual Student Video Contest

Each year, APTA Geriatrics supports a consumer video contest in which PT and PTA students submit original videos on topics related to physical therapy and the ageing adult. Judging takes place prior to the Combined Section Meeting which occurs in February. Winners will have their videos posted to the APTA Geriatrics YouTube channel and website.

Educators:

  • Please include this contest in your syllabi plan:
    • To upload your submission (must be a video file and not a link), please click here
    • Contact Dana Murn, CAE at dmurn@aptageriatrics.org for more information.
    • The deadline to submit a Consumer Video for the next contest is November 15, 2023.

       

Eligibility: The student contributor(s) must be enrolled in a physical therapist or physical therapist assistant program when they submit their video.

Contest Rules:

    • Submissions are accepted January 1 – November 15 for consideration at the Combined Sections Meeting (CSM) the following January or February. See “Submission” section for more information.
    • All entries must be a digital video
    • The length of the video should not exceed 2 minutes
    • All entries should begin with a “title screen” that includes the following information:
      • Lead producer’s names
      • School name
      • School city, state
      • Title of video
    • All information in the video must be cited, giving credit to the original source.
    • No copyrighted materials (music, images, etc.) may be used for this contest unless you own the copyright or have a license to use the material for this contest. Written permission must be obtained and provided upon request for all copyrighted materials.
    • All entries must be submitted in English, if entries are not in English they must include English subtitles.
    • All submitted videos become the property of the APTA Geriatrics. Winning and honorable mention videos will be posted on the website and social media pages.
    • The top three entrants will receive a year’s student membership to APTA Geriatrics.

Submission:

  • Email a URL link of the entrant video to Dana Murn, CAE at dmurn@aptageriatrics.org
  • Deadline for entries is November 15
  • Please include the following information in your email:
    • Subject: APTA Geriatrics Student Video Contest
    • Body:
      • URL link of video. Actual video files will be requested from finalists ONLY.
      • Contact information of all students who worked on the video (names and email addresses).
      • If the video was created for class, please include the professor’s name and email.

Judging Criteria:

  • Inspiration/Creativity: How interesting is the video to watch?
  • Appropriateness of Topic: How relevant is the topic selected for aging adults?
  • Accuracy: Is the information presented accurate and free of bias?
  • Clarity: How well does the video explain the concept? (Consumer friendly language free of medical terminology and jargon)
  • Quality: What is the overall quality of production (including visual and sound elements)
  • Rules: Did the video comply with contest rules?