Mobilizing PT Clinician Research: Opportunities, Collaborations, and Challenges

August 4, 2021

The purpose of this course is to provide practicing clinicians with an overview of some practical tips to consider when developing and implementing a research project in the clinic. We will begin with formulation of a focused research question. Examples of alternatives to traditional research studies will be provided as well as suggestions to successfully balance the daily demands faced by clinicians with the tasks required to develop and execute a research project. Guidance on the development of alternative research methods such as, a case report, case series, retrospective study, and quality improvement projects will be provided. The course will also present ideas to assist with the successful writing of a research grant and abstract worthy of acceptance. Practical examples of the implementation of some of these strategies will be included.

Researchers Donna Zielke PT, MPT; Giovanni Berardi, PT, DPT, PhD, OCS; and Breanna (Bre) Reynolds PT, DPT, PhD, FAAOMPT share their insight and expertise on "Mobilizing PT Clinician Research: Opportunities, Collaborations, and Challenges."

What to expect: 

Upon completion of this course, participants will be able to:

  • Gain an understanding of strategies (mentors, collaborators) to balance demands of a clinical caseload with participation in a research project.
  • Understand how to streamline an idea or clinical problem to a focused research question.
  • Describe key components of a research grant proposal, such as the IPTF grant.
  • Explain the process of moving an interesting clinical case to a written case report.
  • Compare various research methodologies that can be conducted in a clinical setting such as case report, case series, retrospective study, and quality improvement projects.
  • Identify the key components of a well written abstract.

About the Researchers: 

Donna Zielke, PT, MPT is a physical therapist and the program lead clinician for the Center of Excellence in Gait, Balance and Falls Prevention at Marianjoy Rehabilitation Hospital in Wheaton, IL. Donna has over 25 years of experience as a physical therapist and in rehabilitation service roles to include direct patient care, education, research and program development. Donna is an adjunct faculty member at Midwestern University in the program in Physical Therapy. She has published as well as presented, both locally and nationally, on a variety of topics to include balance, community mobility, technology, and outcome measures. Donna holds a bachelor’s degree in Biology from the University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign and a master’s degree in physical therapy from Northwestern University.

Dr. Giovanni Berardi, PT, DPT, PhD, OCS received a DPT from Rosalind Franklin University and has focused professionally in the management of chronic pain. He completed PhD training at Marquette University with research directed towards understanding the influence of biopsychosocial factors and resistance exercise on perceived pain and fatigue, experimental pain sensitivity, and performance fatigability in people with fibromyalgia. He is currently a postdoctoral scholar within the Department of Physical Therapy and Rehabilitation Science at the University of Iowa where his research is focusing on investigating metabolomic changes in people with chronic pain and using large datasets to identify clinically meaningful biosignatures predictive of the transition to chronic pain.


Dr. Breanna (Bre) Reynolds PT, DPT, PhD, FAAOMPT is a Physical Therapist who graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Physical Therapy from Bradley University (2001) and then completed a post-professional DPT, orthopaedic manual therapy residency, and fellowship through the Ola Grimsby Institute. She completed a Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) in Physical Therapy (2018) with Nova Southeastern University; her dissertation examined the effect of cervical spine thrust joint manipulation on individuals with temporomandibular disorder. Dr. Reynolds began teaching entry-level DPT education full-time in 2014 with Bradley University, primarily teaching in the areas of orthopaedic physical therapy evaluation and treatment, functional anatomy, applied exercise, administration and professional issues, differential diagnosis, and supervised research. Her current clinical research interests include orthopaedic and manual therapy topics with a special emphasis on the TMD population. Academic research interests include hybrid accelerated models of education for physical therapists. Dr. Reynolds maintains clinical practice with Rock Valley Physical Therapy in Peoria, Illinois, and has worked in an outpatient orthopaedic setting since 2001. Dr. Reynolds is an active member of the American Physical Therapy Association (APTA) and Illinois Physical Therapy Association (IPTA); she is a member and fellow of the American Academy of Orthopaedic Manual Physical Therapists (AAOMPT). She currently serves as Associate Professor and Director of Assessment and Research at South College DPT program in Knoxville, TN.


This program was originally recorded July 8, 2021.

NO CE is awarded for this recorded spotlight on research. Its purpose is to provide practicing clinicians with an overview of some practical tips to consider when developing and implementing a research project in the clinic.

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