As her instructor for multiple courses over seven trimesters, associate professor Dr. Kayla Smith in the Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) program found Dr. Stephanie Thomas ’14, now a DPT graduate, to be “a strong student who consistently performed at the top of her classes.” Smith was thrilled to mentor Thomas for her seventh-term case report, which she developed—at Smith’s urging—on a case she encountered on an internship.
Thomas had bonded with a client in Arizona, “a kind man who was visibly in pain and discomfort from a traumatic shoulder disarticulation,” she says. “I wanted to help him.” She partnered with a prosthetist to measure and improve his function, which helped him become more independent. When she reported the experience to her mentor, Smith urged her to share her findings publicly. She considered it a professional obligation.
Through their regular discussions, Smith worked with Thomas to co-author a report. “Kayla spent hours with me discussing my work, editing my writing, and overseeing my progress,” Thomas says.
The final product, “The Effectiveness of EMG Biofeedback, Mirror Therapy, and Tactile Stimulation in Decreasing Chronic Residual Limb Pain and Phantom Limb Pain for a Patient With a Shoulder Disarticulation: A Case Report,” was recently accepted for publication in the Journal of Prosthetics and Orthotics. And more may be on the horizon. Smith also encouraged the alumna to submit the report as a poster presentation at APTA’s 2016 Combined Sections Meeting in California.
“I’m so excited for my first publication. I couldn’t have done it without Kayla’s guidance,” Thomas says. “She’s an extremely supportive teacher who cares about her students’ personal and professional development. Kayla not only helped me become a good researcher and physical therapist, she’s also taught me how to be a better person.”
Smith, in turn, credits Thomas with “fully embracing great learning experiences. It’s exciting as a professor to watch students grow into professionals and become leaders.”
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