Physical Therapy PT

| 18 April 2024

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Force for good: DPT alum uplifts older adults, celebrates the art of aging

Teresa Gingles-PT-USAHS-DPT-01

At the University of St. Augustine for Health Sciences (USAHS), Teresa Gingles, PT, USAHS DPT 2011, embarked on a journey that would lead her to become a beacon of hope and advocate for an aging population.

Dr. Gingles is a 2023 Force for Good Alumni Video Contest winner. The alumni video competition celebrates the incredible impact that USAHS alumni are making in their communities. Dr. Gingles describes this recognition as validating her passion for empowering older adults.

See her video submission below:

For her, this award serves not as a feather in her cap but as a solid foundation upon which she can continue to build Better at Last, her membership-based nonprofit designed to help seniors age with purpose. She will leverage the funds to expand the organization’s community impact. She plans to host more workshops on strength and balance and provide outreach to underserved populations.

“Now and then, a buoy comes along to boost your confidence and reassure you that you’re strong enough to swim a little further,” Dr. Gingles says.

A force for PT transformation

Dr. Gingles’ path from physical therapy (PT) student to nonprofit founder exemplifies the power of education and a commitment to serve others.

She has experience in acute care, home health, outpatient and hospice settings. Dr. Gingles became Board Certified in Geriatrics in 2021. She works full-time as a physical therapist (PT) at an outpatient orthopedic clinic near Waco, Texas. However, her passion has always been serving older adults.

Dr. Gingles saw a need when working with older adult PT patients who would improve and say they felt better than they had in 10 years. “They would ask how to keep up with their wellness, and I didn’t have a good answer for them.”

Based on this need, Better at Last was born. Dr. Gingles built relationships with local wellness facilities, like the YMCA and fellow nonprofits, to create a warm handoff for her patients. Better at Last’s focus is to encourage older adults to live with purpose throughout their lives.

“We’re challenging the idea that getting older is bad and aging has to be scary,” Dr. Gingles says.

The organization offers older adults a proactive approach to aging gracefully through tailored services and resources, including social and educational events. “In working to change the culture of aging, my goal is to inspire them to know that they have what they need to thrive well into older adulthood,” Dr. Gingles says.

She says she feels gifted by this opportunity, especially considering the expected growth of an aging population over the next 20 years. She explains that this group is setting an example for her generation, as well as that of her children.

“If we can inspire people right now, we will change them for generations. We all have that capacity. We measure our success by the strength that members gain, the friendships they make, the trips they take and their big plans for the future,” Dr. Gingles says.

Better at Last Board Member Holt Kelly says, “Teresa is the most empathetic, magnetic person who truly cares about other people. It’s her superpower. She helps others care about themselves, both emotionally and physically. It has certainly helped me better my life.”

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Teresa Gingles, PT, USAHS DPT

A force for empathetic progress

At the heart of Dr. Gingles’ work is a proactive approach to aging well—a philosophy she honed during her time at USAHS.

She credits her cohort and professors for nurturing her passion and imparting the knowledge and skills to effect real change.

“My trajectory of becoming a force for good was further unlocked by the school community who poured themselves into us and our educational experience. Thanks to USAHS, I’m knowledgeable and can share information to help older adults improve their quality of life.”

Through challenges and triumphs, she emerged from PT school equipped to tackle the complexities of aging with empathy and expertise.

Dr. Gingles sees physical therapy as groundbreaking because PTs teach people about their potential. “PT is innovative because of how proactive we can be,” she says, “We are mobility experts and can shine when it comes to reaching people.”

A force for positive change

Dr. Gingles’ mission extends far beyond her professional endeavors; it is deeply rooted in her upbringing and the values instilled by her family. Inspired by generations of selfless service and compassion, she embodies the ethos of being a force for good. Her work is not just a career, but a calling driven by a profound sense of duty to make a difference in the lives of others.

“I am a daughter, granddaughter, great-granddaughter and niece. Before I received my doctorate in physical therapy, my front-row seat was watching close friends and family age well,” she says.

Dr. Gingles offers valuable advice to current health sciences students: never stop learning and strive to see the whole person beyond the diagnosis.

“Don’t be the reason someone doesn’t get better. Always push yourself to read that extra article or ask someone who may know more,” Dr. Gingles says. With her unwavering dedication and infectious enthusiasm, she is a guiding light for future healthcare professionals.

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A force for a dynamic future

Dr. Gingles’ vision for the future is bold and ambitious. Through Better at Last, she will continue to chart new paths and address the difficulties associated with aging head-on. “I’m going to give Better at Last everything I have. I feel a sense of urgency to reach everyone I can,” she says.

She remains steadfast in her commitment to her family, naming them as the source of her strength and resilience. “I wouldn’t have the confidence to step out of the boat if they weren’t beside me.”

In celebrating Dr. Gingles, we honor her achievements, compassion and determination. She reminds us all that with courage and conviction, we can truly make a difference in our backyard and across the world.

Connect with Better at Last on Facebook or email [email protected]. View Dr. Gingles’ Force for Good Alumni Video Contest submission and check out USAHS Alumni Association News and Benefits to learn more about the competition.

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