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Program History

OMPT Soldier/Medic

The Army-Baylor University Doctoral Fellowship in Orthopaedic Manual Physical Therapy, which began as a residency in July 1995, is a full-time, eighteen-month program for advanced clinical and didactic education in orthopaedic manual physical therapy.

The program is located at Brooke Army Medical Center (BAMC), on historic Fort Sam Houston in San Antonio, Texas. The faculty comprises staff members from BAMC and the U.S. Army-Baylor University Doctoral Program in Physical Therapy at the Army Medical Department Center and School (AMEDDC&S) on Fort Sam Houston. The first three residents were selected from a group of active duty Army physical therapists by a competitive board process and graduated in December 1996. Three residents attended the second class and graduated in December 1998. It was one of the first programs to complete the formal recognition process for orthopaedic manual physical therapy residencies by the American Academy of Orthopaedic Manual Physical Therapists (AAOMPT) in 1997. It was credentialed by the American Physical Therapy Association (APTA) in 1999. The first joint-service class, consisting of one officer from the Army, Navy, Air Force, and Public Health Service, graduated in December 2000. On 5 May 2001, the Board of Regents at Baylor University unanimously approved a proposal to confer a Doctor of Science in Physical Therapy (D.Sc.P.T.) degree to qualified graduates of the program. The program was re-credentialed as a clinical fellowship in orthopaedic manual physical therapy by the APTA in the fall of 2004, and most recently in 2009. The name of the program was later changed to its current form to reflect this recognition as a credentialed fellowship and doctoral program.

This specialized, rigorous, and advanced orthopaedic manual therapy training program is designed to progress the examination and treatment skills of experienced physical therapists to the level of clinical expert for orthopaedic conditions, with a particular focus on manual therapy assessment and intervention. The program director has coordinated numerous civilian and military resources to provide state of the art, postprofessional-level education. The academic curriculum takes the fellow beyond the clinical application of manual therapy to establish a very strong foundation in efficacy research and critical review of the literature.

Equally important is the clinical training that includes over 150 hours of one-on-one clinical mentorship with actual patients. This provides the fellow with the opportunity to evaluate, intervene, and progress patients together with more experienced physical therapists who are AAOMPT Fellows. Emphasis is placed on very thorough examination and careful observation of the effects of intervention. Orthopaedic interventions span the spectrum from tissue-targeted exercise to the application of manual therapy.

Graduates of this program have the requisite tools to become leaders in the field of orthopaedic manual physical therapy. Their abilities include applying effective clinical intervention and designing rehabilitation programs and protocols. They have the training to teach clinical philosophies and design/conduct clinical research. It is expected that fellows will identify quality research questions during their training which they can pursue in future clinical and educational settings.

The program is divided into four semesters with different areas of emphasis during each semester. Courses progress from the spine to the various peripheral joints. The pertinent anatomy, biomechanics, radiology, and surgical management are scheduled during the appropriate semester for maximal cohesion of thought. The 18-month length of the program is paramount to the quality research expected of the fellows.

The fellows receive their clinical education and the majority of their didactic instruction in classrooms and treatment areas within the physical therapy clinic at BAMC. Fellows see patients half day and attend classes or conduct research half day. Each fellow has four hours per week of clinical mentorship where he/she evaluates, intervenes, and progresses patients under the supervision of an experienced orthopaedic manual physical therapist. The range of clinical experience of the clinical faculty is 10 to 30 years of direct-access orthopaedic care. The program has a full-time director, a full-time deputy director/senior faculty, and several part-time clinical mentors, all who are graduates of full-time orthopaedic residencies/fellowships and Fellows of AAOMPT.

We are one of the first three postprofessional training programs in the country credentialed by the American Physical Therapy Association (APTA). We are credentialed by the APTA and recognized by AAOMPT.