Bellarmine, Norton Healthcare offer nation's first neurologic physical therapy fellowship

November 9, 2023

PT students work with neuro client 
Bellarmine University and Norton Healthcare, both based in Louisville, Kentucky, are partnering to launch the nation’s first fellowship in neurologic physical therapy (PT) this month.
The Neurologic Movement Disorders Physical Therapy Fellowship is a collaboration between Norton Healthcare and The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center in Columbus, with support from Bellarmine’s School of Movement and Rehabilitation Sciences and The Ohio State University School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences.
“We are always looking for new ways to enhance the quality care we provide at Norton Healthcare,” said Russell F. Cox, president and CEO of Norton Healthcare. “Partnerships with outstanding educational and health care institutions, such as Bellarmine University and Wexner Medical Center, are key to developing and enhancing the clinical skills of specialists who are instrumental in advancing care and providing hope to those facing difficult health diagnoses.”
“The neurologic PT fellowship supports Bellarmine’s continued strategic focus on entering mutually advantageous community partnerships,” said Dr. Susan M. Donovan, president of Bellarmine University. “When we work with a partner, our students learn more, our partners gain expertise and our community gains highly trained professionals. As a result, our neighbors and our region enjoy a better quality of life. The ultimate outcome of these partnerships is a stronger and healthier community.”  
The 12-month fellowship is available to candidates who work at Norton Healthcare and/or The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center. Participants will be employed full time with benefits and will not pay tuition.
The goal of the program is to develop physical therapy specialists who can address the complex rehabilitation needs of patients with neurological movement disorders, which include Parkinson’s disease, essential tremor, ataxia and Huntington’s disease.
“We are so excited to offer this opportunity to allow clinicians to feel more confident in the evaluation and treatment of these complex neurological disorders,” said Dr. Elizabeth Ulanowski, associate professor in the Bellarmine Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) program. She will be director of the new fellowship.
“The fellowship is something I have been working toward for our community for over five years. These patients and their families need our support and innovation. Exercise and movement are a big part of their overall care, and through evidence-based interventions our goal is to support clinicians, patients and families so we can make this journey easier.” 
The fellowship is the latest development in a long-standing partnership between Bellarmine’s physical therapy program and Norton Neuroscience Institute. Other initiatives include:
Bellarmine-Norton Healthcare Neurological Physical Therapy Residency. During the yearlong program, which just marked its 11th anniversary, residents work with patients across Norton Healthcare’s acute care and outpatient settings and at Cardinal Hill Rehabilitation Hospital in Lexington, Ky. They also conduct entry-level neurological lectures and labs at Bellarmine. The residency has been a catalyst for increasing the number of board-certified neurologic clinical specialists in the region, according to Ulanowski, who also directs this program.
Bellarmine’s Doctor of Physical Therapy Service Learning Clinic at Norton Neuroscience Institute Cressman Neurological Rehabilitation. Cressman Neurological Rehabilitation is the site of one of Bellarmine’s seven service learning clinics, where first- and second-year DPT students do hands-on work with patients twice weekly for six-week rotations. The care is provided pro bono.
Physical therapy lab access. Students in Bellarmine’s adult neurorehabilitation class participate in labs using the latest technology at Cressman Neurological Rehabilitation as part of their coursework.
Adjunct faculty appointments. Numerous Norton Healthcare physical therapists serve as adjunct faculty in Bellarmine’s DPT program. Norton Healthcare makes this possible by incorporating the teaching time into their clinic schedules. 
“We feel that it’s a benefit not only to keep our therapists engaged, but also to bring the most current physical therapy education back to our clients,” said Melanie Hoehn, director, rehabilitation services, Norton Brownsboro Hospital.
Dr. Amber Faraji, a neurologic certified specialist who graduated from Bellarmine’s DPT program in 2019 and completed the Bellarmine-Norton Healthcare Neurological Physical Therapy Residency, will be the first neurologic movement disorders fellow at Norton Healthcare.
She serves as an adjunct faculty member at Bellarmine and mentors students at the service learning clinic, where she discovered her career path as a student.
“That is when I really started wanting to work with individuals with neurological disorders — specifically movement disorders,” Faraji said. “I thought I was going to be an orthopedic physical therapist. Taking neurology courses and getting to work with an individual through the clinic just totally changed what I wanted to do after graduation.”

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