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The MRI program at Saint Louis University celebrates as its graduates achieve a perfect pass rate on the certification exam.


Setting the Bar


Alumni Feature


Upcoming Alumni Events


Spring Commencement


CSD Clinic


Student Feature


Shake It Off


Faculty Files



Research Feature


DCHS Clinical Corner Meet Dr. Rottnek

The members of the DCHS Class of 2017 came together one last time to celebrate earning diplomas from their respective programs

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Faculty Files



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Communication Sciences and Disorders alumnus Dr. Gary LaBlance has led a tremendously successful career - one that has been guided by the values and knowledge instilled in him at SLU.



Biomedical Laboratory Science student Matthew Cheung examines what service to others means to him in a personal essay.

RESEARCH FEATURE Take an in-depth look at Dr. Gretchen Salsich’s research on patellofemoral pain and a new method of treating it.


DEAN’S MESSAGE “Welcome to the second issue of the Doisy College of Health Sciences magazine, On the Record.” We received an overwhelmingly positive response to our first publication of the online magazine which has a focus of keeping friends and family of Doisy College of Health Sciences abreast of many exciting initiatives and the talented faculty, staff, students, and alumni that comprise the college. In this issue, we have added Clinical Corner which will be a standing feature in the magazine to highlight what is an essential element of many of our programs; the quality clinical education students receive outside the classrooms. Inside the clinics, hospitals, schools, and community settings, current practitioners graciously work with our students to help them bridge the gap between theory and practice. It is the superior clinical education component of our professional programs that prepare our students for their future roles as healthcare providers. The college is forever grateful for the many individuals that serve our students in this capacity. This spring, I met with several of our graduates and, when the opportunity presented itself, I encouraged them to consider how someday they may serve SLU in this extraordinarily important role. Speaking of graduation… we have included a snapshot of Spring Commencement for you to enjoy. For the first time, the college ceremony featured two talented musicians from DCHS who sang the national anthem - Zackary Scherzer, B.S. in Nuclear Medicine Technology, and Alex Tadevich B.S. in Exercise Science, DPT Class of 2020 - and a student speaker - Dr. Francis McDonald, DPT. They did a fantastic job! As dean, there is no other time of year when I feel more proud and honored to serve in this role. Congratulations to our graduates! Lastly, as you read through this issue, I hope that everyone is gearing up for SLU’s Bicentennial Celebration where we will kick off our celebration of 200 years during Homecoming and Family Weekend. Check out the Mark your Calendar section for important dates and DCHS activities. I hope to see you there! Enjoy your summer and remember - every day is a great day to Be a Billiken. Mardell A. Wilson, EdD, RD Dean and Professor Doisy College of Health Science





The Communication Sciences and Disorders department operates an Audiology clinic that has been serving the hearing needs of the St. Louis community for over 40 years.

The Physician Assistant Education department recently hired Dr. Fred Rottnek as its new Medical Director. Dr. Rottnek will help guide the program from the point of view of a physician.


SETTING THE BAR Magnetic Resonance Imaging Program Celebrates Success in 2016 Credentialing Exam Pass Rate and National Accreditation by JRCERT The class of 2016 of Saint Louis University’s Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) program, housed in the Department of Medical Imaging and Radiation Therapeutics at Saint Louis University (SLU), recently earned a 100% pass rate on the American Registry of Radiologic Technologists (ARRT) National Registry Board Exam for MRI technologists. The pass rate is reported for first-time examinees, and the program’s pass rate of 100% is higher than the national average of 82% for magnetic resonance imaging program graduates. MRI students are eligible to take the exam after successfully completing the Bachelor of Science degree program.

“Congratulations to the Class of

2016. Not only did the class have a 100% pass rate on the credentialing exam, but they earned a 100% employment rate as well.” - Marcey Kennedy, MRI Program Director


The Magnetic Resonance Imaging program at SLU was established


Pass rate for the SLU MRI Class of 2016 on the ARRT national certification exam


National average pass rate for MRI students on the ARRT national certification exam


Employment rate for the SLU MRI Class of 2016

MRI Program Director Marcey Kennedy, M.A., ARMRIT, RT (MR), was very happy with the performance of this year’s class. “Congratulations to the Class of 2016,” Kennedy said. “Not only did the class have a 100% pass rate on the credentialing exam, but they earned a 100% employment rate as well.” Clinical sites and staff play a large role in the success of the MRI program. A representative of one of the program’s clinical sites – Chris Brewer, Director of Hospital Imaging at SSM Health – spoke very strongly of SLU’s MRI program. “SSM Health has been affiliated with the Saint Louis University MRI degree program for several years,” Brewer said. “During that time, we have found that the MRI students have an outstanding knowledge of the principles and technical components for MRI. Specifically at SSM St. Clare Hospital, Fenton, Missouri, we have hired graduates from the SLU MRI program. The students are

well adapted and very patient-care oriented. The certification rate for the ARRT has been 100% for the students that have transitioned to SSM Employees. We recommend the SLU MRI degree program to potential candidates that are considering MRI Healthcare for their future.” In addition to the news of the perfect pass rate on the National Registry Board Exam, the MRI program is also celebrating news that it has earned programmatic accreditation through the Joint Review Committee on Education in Radiologic Technology (JRCERT). The JRCERT is the only agency recognized by the United States Department of Education and the Council for Higher Education Accreditation offering accreditation of traditional education programs in magnetic resonance. Accreditation by the JRCERT offers significant value to the MRI program at SLU by assuring the continued excellence of the program.


COMING FULL CIRCLE Communication Sciences and Disorders Alumnus Proves the Mission to be “Men and Women for Others” is a Lifelong Journey Dr. Gary LaBlance, VP of St. Louis Children’s Hospital SLU CSD Alumnus


wo hundred years is a long time. Over the course of two centuries, a lot can change – fads will come and go, technology will change and people will change as well. There are very few aspects of society that will remain constant throughout the test of time. This makes it all the more impressive that, after 199 years of operation, the same identity and mission of Saint Louis University are still the principles by which the university and its people are guided. Being “men and women for others” and “educating the whole person” do not just happen because someone wrote them down on a piece of paper; however, it has taken generation after generation of not only faculty members at the university teaching and living the mission, but also generation after generation of students who are inspired enough to take what they have learned and live the mission themselves. One of those students was named Gary LaBlance. Gary LaBlance, PhD, is a Vice President at St. Louis Children’s Hospital – a position he has held since 2000. He oversees several neuroscience programs, compliance and regulatory issues and hospital support services. By any standard, Dr. LaBlance has had an

incredibly successful career and plays a key role at a premier hospital. The road that got him to where he is today, however, started back at Saint Louis University as an undergraduate. Dr. LaBlance, is an alumnus of the Communication Sciences and Disorders department at Saint Louis University, where he graduated with a bachelor’s and a master’s degree before earning a doctoral degree at Northwestern University. He credits his professors for having a profound impact on him. “The faculty at Saint Louis University inspired me. Their passion for the profession, as well as their compassion for the students was impressive. It was evident they cared,” Dr. LaBlance said. “They cared for the students, their patients and the community they served - living the University’s mission each day. I soon realized that I, too, could make an impact as a Speech-Language Pathologist.” As Dr. LaBlance completed work on his doctoral degree, he had remained in contact with one of his former professors from Saint Louis University in particular. Father Tom Lay, SJ, was a faculty member in the Communication

Sciences and Disorders department and had become an advisor, mentor and friend to Dr. LaBlance. After many discussions with his former professor and much consideration, Dr. LaBlance decided to return to his alma mater to accept a position as a grant writer in the Development Office. “From speaking with Father Tom Lay, I grew to understand and appreciate the Jesuit mission and the University’s focus on service,” Dr. LaBlance said. “The philosophy of ‘educating the whole person’ was exemplified in each of my courses at Saint Louis University. This focus on mind-body-spirit had a big impact on my personal life and career.” Not long after returning to Saint Louis University, Dr. LaBlance became a faculty member in the Communication Sciences and Disorders department. Over a 10-year period as a faculty member, Dr. LaBlance was also given appointments in both the department of Otolaryngology Head and Neck Surgery and the department of Orthodontics. No matter which department he was serving, though, having the chance to better the lives of others was always what mattered most to Dr. LaBlance. “I valued being able to serve the

community through my clinical practice and my work with students, both in Communication Disorders and at the medical school. The opportunity to make an impact in the lives of others was fulfilling,” Dr. LaBlance said. After ten years of working at Saint Louis University, Dr. LaBlance decided to take on a new challenge. In true SLU fashion, though, it was another position in which he could work to improve the lives of others, and, in 1994, he began working as the Director of Neurosciences at St. Louis Children’s Hospital. After his first six years at Children’s Hospital, Dr. LaBlance was appointed to his current position of Vice President – a post that he has now held for 17 years. While his position at Children’s Hospital has him serving a supervisory role and providing strategic direction, Dr. LaBlance still cherishes his time on the hospital floor. “Walking through our clinical areas and interacting with patients and their families is the highlight of my day – it is a

constant reminder of what is important,” Dr. LaBlance said. The patients at Children’s Hospital are not the only people for which Dr. LaBlance is advocating. He also has the opportunity with his current position to serve as a mentor to local high school and college students – just as Father Lay had done for him during his time at Saint Louis University. “In serving as a mentor, I rely on the Jesuit values taught at SLU, including the challenge to strive for excellence, sharing gifts, caring for and respecting the individual person and developing the whole person – all are important lessons to live and share,” Dr. LaBlance said. “Many of these students have stayed in contact with me after graduation. I have enjoyed watching them grow in both their personal and professional lives. Knowing that I have helped shape their future brings much personal satisfaction.” Dr. LaBlance has tackled a lot of challenges throughout his career,

but there is one challenge quickly approaching that he has not seen in years: Freshmen Orientation at SLU. Dr. LaBlance and his wife Ann – who is also a graduate of SLU’s Communication Sciences and Disorders department and has worked as a Speech-Language Pathologist at SLU Hospital for nearly 25 years – will be sending their oldest daughter, Clare (whose Godfather is none other than Father Lay), off to their alma mater this fall where she will pursue a major in Health Sciences. Their youngest daughter, Gracie, also plans to attend Saint Louis University where she will pursue a major in Education. The career of Dr. Gary LaBlance has been one dedicated to helping others. The knowledge and Jesuit values instilled in him at Saint Louis University by his professors and mentors prepared him for a very successful career, and, with that success, he became a mentor himself and working to instill those same values in the future generations of health care. Dr. Gary LaBlance has come full circle.

“...I rely on the Jesuit values taught at SLU, including the challenge to strive for excellence, sharing gifts, caring for and respecting the individual person and developing the whole person - all are important lessons to live and share.” - Dr. Gary LaBlance, VP St. Louis Children’s Hospital


mark your CALENDAR June 28

Athletic Training Alumni Reception - Houston, TX

Aug. 11-13 Aug. 22

Cont. Ed.: Pilates for people with Scoliosis Fall Classes Begin

Sept. 21-24

SLU Homecoming and Family Weekend


Share Your knowledge, passion and a meal. Sign up to host a meal for current SLU students in your discipline. This is a chance to connect with current students, tell them about life as a professional in your field and offer advice or words of wisdom to help them on their way. The next round of meals will be held in October. Visit to learn more and to sign up to be a host.

Doisy College of Health Sciences Homecoming Events • • • • • •

Sept. 21: Alumni Merit Award Ceremony Sept. 22: Garden to Table Sept. 23: Cheryl Cavallo Hustle for Your Health 5K Sept. 23: Pancake Breakfast Sept. 23: Building Tours Sept. 24: OT 25th Anniversary Brunch

For more information on alumni or development events, contact Michelle Cohen at For general information, contact





The Doisy College of Health Sciences is helping make a difference in the future of health care. A gift generously assists our incredible students in their transformation into the healthcare professionals of tomorrow guided by our talented faculty and staff. Donations are the pillar for sustainable growth to funding scholarships and distinct initiatives that support students and faculty. Your gift is a great way to show pride in the college and support the students that have committed themselves to the service of others through health care. In addition, your gift allows students and faculty to work together pursuing goals that create an impact well beyond the scope of Doisy College of Health Sciences. To make a contribution, contact Director of Development Michelle Cohen at PAGE 9 | ON THE RECORD


n a sunny Friday afternoon in May, the students of the DCHS graduating Class of 2017 gathered at Chaifetz Arena to be honored by their friends and family as well as by DCHS faculty and staff at the college Precommencement Ceremony. The ceremony featured graduates from the certificate, baccalaureate, master’s and doctoral levels; students Zackary Scherzer and Alex Tadevich performing the national anthem; and addresses from graduating Doctor of Physical Therapy student Francis McDonald and Dean Mardell Wilson. Congratulations to the Class of 2017 for all of your accomplishments and for the many more yet to come!

“The ceremony wa

colleagues. It was a what it means to be a means to provide PAGE 10 | ON THE RECORD


as a last hurrah for myself and my DCHS a chance for us to gather and reinstate a sons and daughters of SLU, and what it e only our best efforts to healthcare.� - Mark Cadiz, Nutrition and Dietetics Graduate PAGE 11 | ON THE RECORD

THE SOUND OF PROGRESS The Communication Sciences and Disorders Department Audiology Clinic Serves the Hearing Needs of the St. Louis Community

“We offer patient-centered care –

meaning the patient and the unique attributes he or she brings to the process are always carefully considered and integrated into treatment.” - Maureen Fischer, CSD Clinical Instructor and Audiologist PAGE 12 | ON THE RECORD


here are five senses that a person utilizes in order to shape his or her view of the world; these senses are designed to work together harmoniously to help people interact with their surroundings. What happens, however, when one of these core senses is not working in the manner which it should? Fortunately, for those individuals struggling with their sense of hearing, there are audiologists who dedicate their careers to the science of hearing and balance and disorders related to the two. The department of Communication Sciences and Disorders (CSD) at Saint Louis University is proud to operate its Audiology Clinic, which has been serving members of the St. Louis community for over 40 years. The CSD Audiology Clinic provides comprehensive audiological diagnostic and rehabilitative services to all ages. The clinic’s purpose is two-fold: provide a well-rounded clinical experience for the CSD students as well as deliver exemplary, evidence-based care to the clients. Patients of the clinic are seen by a clinical supervisor who is also a faculty member in the CSD program at SLU and by a student who is training to become a clinician.

and foster their professional development,” Fischer said. “We offer patient-centered care – meaning the patient and the unique attributes he or she brings to the process are always carefully considered and integrated into treatment.” As mentioned previously, the CSD Audiology Clinic offers both diagnostic and rehabilitative services. Its diagnostic services include: · Pediatric and adult hearing evaluations · Immittance and Otoacoustic emissions testing · Auditory brainstem response testing · Auditory processing evaluations The clinic’s rehabilitative services include: · Hearing aid and assistive listening devices · Evaluation and selection · Fitting and verification · Repair · Custom hearing protection · Aural rehabilitation The unfortunate reality for many people in need of audiology services is that, many times, their needs can be expensive. In keeping with the Jesuit tradition of serving others, however, the CSD Audiology Clinic is striving to make its services available to everyone by offering a sliding scale for billing and by offering programs like HEARSTL@SLU. These allow individuals who may not have the resources to attain care elsewhere to be served by the CSD Audiology Clinic. “Currently, Missouri Medicaid and Medicare have no coverage for hearing aids even though one out of every three people over the age of 65 is living with hearing loss,” Fischer said. “We started HEARSTL@SLU to provide hearing aids to everyone who could benefit from them, even if they are unable to pay for the services.”

Clinical Instructor and Audiologist at SLU Maureen Fischer, MS, CCC/A, explained what patients can expect when visiting the audiology clinic. “We work hard to deliver state-of-the-art, evidence-based care while allowing the student to participate in the process

The sense of hearing is a wonderful gift that many people take for granted every day. Whether it’s hearing the birds outside the window, the volume on the television or a family member saying ‘I love you’, the CSD Audiology Clinic is working to make sure everyone can enjoy the sounds of the world.

Saint Louis University Paul C. Reinert, S.J., Speech-Language-Hearing Clinic Hours: Monday - Thursday 9:00 AM - 5:00 PM Location: McGannon Hall, Suite 32 Phone: (314) 977-3365


WHAT IS SERVICE Matthew Cheung, a Class of 2017 Senior in the Biomedical Laboratory Science department, takes an in-depth look at what service means to him. My father always emphasized the importance of giving back to the community that has given so much to us. That thought has resonated with me. And it’s how I find myself on this relentless pursuit to serve. After an invitation from my dad, I began volunteering with the Lupus Foundation in high school. In college, I joined Alpha Phi Omega, the national service fraternity. Currently a senior at Saint Louis University, I have completed hundreds of service hours. Needless to say, service plays an integral part in my life. Through my experiences, I have explored the deeper meaning of what it truly means to serve but also have uncovered the darker side of service. Volunteering at soup kitchens, hospitals and nonprofit organizations are just a few examples of the countless service opportunities that exist. Serving is made especially simple when surrounded by other motivated students at a university that places such a heavy emphasis on serving the greater community. In fact, SLU prides itself on completing more than one million service hours each year. But what does that really mean? After all, it’s just a number. We gather each October and April for university-wide day of service events in which upward of 4,000 students go out to spend five hours engaging in community service. Most of us find ourselves weeding, pulling roots, mulching and raking leaves. These mundane tasks are assigned to accommodate the mass quantity of students. We leave that day feeling great about ourselves because of the change we made that day and carry on with our merry lives. We never return to these sites. We never speak to these people again. So let’s be honest. Did we actually make a difference? Sadly, I don’t think so. I know this because I’ve also fallen into this trap. My point is not that days of service are terrible affairs that should be avoided. Rather, my point is that true service is more than

Matthew Cheung and some of his fellow BLS students participate in a service project for Randolph World Ministries.

Matthew Cheung (far right) and a few friends serve at an event fighting kidney disease.

just a one-day excursion. Service consists of continuous processes that develop into fruitful relationships. It’s when genuine connections are built and strengthened over the course of time. I’ve found these meaningful relationships personally while volunteering with disease-specific organizations, such as the Lupus Foundation, the Alzheimer’s Association and the Polycystic Kidney Disease Foundation. I spend time helping out at their fundraising events including 5K races, walks and dinners. My dad and I volunteer together at many of these events. It’s such a great experience because I get to interact with survivors and people struggling with these diseases. I get to hear about their stories and firsthand accounts of their struggles. Additionally, I had the privilege of working with inspireSTL. Each Saturday, I provided free ACT prep for high school students from underprivileged areas. These students could not afford tutoring, so they were dependent on volunteers like me to help them. One of my favorite service relationships I’ve built is with one of my professors who runs a small medical mission organization called Randolph World Ministries. I spend time at his house sorting medical supplies, creating sickle-cell kits and then shipping them off to clinics in Haiti. Even better, I’ve had the opportunity to combine this with an on-campus position. I get the joy of working as a resident advisor for the Health Sciences Learning Community, where one of my goals is to develop programming that integrates a co-curricular experience for first-year college students. Once or twice a semester, I plan a service event that brings around 50 students to volunteer at Randolph World Ministries. Students love the events and are eager to return the next time. Not only do they get to see real-life applications of what they’re learning in the classroom, but they have lots of fun as well. They get to spend time with each other while doing medically related work that benefits the people of Haiti. I have developed strong, sustained relationships with the people I’ve served. It’s satisfying knowing that others directly benefited from the work that I invested in. That’s why I love doing service. I feel like I get more out of it than I put in. For that reason, one could argue service is inherently selfish. Maybe it is. But maybe it’s meant to be a mutualistic relationship. Like humans and their gut bacteria, both parties work together, and each benefits. As I reflect on what I’ve learned through my experiences, I constantly come across one larger question: Why does service even exist? Raising money for disease, tutoring underprivileged students or packaging medical supplies for those in poverty all expose the underlying societal issues at hand. The greater problem in this picture is the fact that these inequalities exist in the first place. In an ideal world, none of our acts of service would be necessary to begin with. After acknowledging these inequalities, I realize that my community service only offers a short-term solution. It does not solve the underlying problem. However, that does not mean that service isn’t necessary; rather, we should be cognizant of these bigger concerns. As an aspiring physician-scientist, these current learning experiences will be key in shaping my future practice. It’s a matter of using my privilege to maximize the service I can provide to those around me, striving to alleviate these greater issues. PAGE 15 | ON THE RECORD



here is no doubt about it: labels make things easier. Whether they are marking what is in an aisle at the supermarket, the direction you are heading on the road or warning you to stay away from danger, labels are certainly a huge part of everyday life. Problems can arise, however, when we start assigning labels to people. When we as a society start labeling people based on how they look, where they were born or their varying ability to meet society’s “norms”, we can start being very hurtful. One such instance of a hurtful label is the “r-word” being applied to individuals with different mental abilities. The r-word has, unfortunately, made it into the American vernacular not only as a word to describe someone with different abilities, but also as a derogatory term that can be applied to just about any person or action. An occupational therapy class at Saint Louis University joined the growing movement of people that think a word with such a hurtful history has no part in our everyday language, and they wanted to do something about it. The students, however, could not do it alone. St. Louis Arc is an organization dedicated to the empowerment, support and advocacy of individuals with intellectual

and developmental disabilities. The organization provides programs for individuals with autism spectrum disorders, Down syndrome and various other development disorders to gain an education, learn employment skills and socialize with others. Both the employees of St. Louis Arc and the participants in its programs shared the SLU OT class’s desire to convince people to end the use of the r-word, and they agreed to help the class spread awareness for their cause.

“All individuals, including those with disabilities, deserve equality, fair treatment and respect.” Now the only question was: how would they spread their message? SLU Occupational Science and Occupational Therapy Assistant Professor Katie Serfas, OTD, OTR/L, yelled a quick statement about their cause across the Busch Student Center, one of the most crowded areas on campus at any given time, and then the music started to play. Slowly, students and members of St. Louis Arc started filing into the area wearing tie-dye shirts

and carrying signs advocating against the use of the r-word. It didn’t take long for Taylor Swift’s “Shake It Off” lyrics to be pumping from the speakers, and then the choreographed dance number began. The SLU OT students, with the help of St. Louis Arc, were performing a flash mob in one of the main hubs of campus to help spread their message. Dr. Serfas believes the mission to end the use of hurtful language such as the r-word is one worth fighting for and one that can be successful. “Education is essential. All individuals, including those with disabilities, deserve equality, fair treatment and respect,” Dr. Serfas said. “I believe this simple call to action helps influence perceptions and change attitudes.” After the music faded and the singing, dancing, camaraderie and fun was coming to a close, the participants looked to one another and decided there was only one thing to do at a time like that: turn the music back up and do it again! It’s safe to say that you can label this event as a success.




What is my favorite part of my job? I love my students! I love to teach! I guess you could say I don’t have one favorite part of my job.”



I’m blessed in that I teach health care subjects that are conducive to caring for the whole person, as well as the understanding of caring for others. My epidemiology background allows me to incorporate the sharing of knowledge that in order to determine health status of an individual or a population group, they must understand all the factors that impact the individual or community. This is achieved through teamwork (required in all my classes), as well as support through a lot of feedback. I feel that my work is an essential part of my life.


I have two projects I’m working on at the moment. I’m working on a project with a colleague at the University of Illinois studying vaginal and vulvar cancer screening protocols in older women. I’m also working on a family/professional caregiver study with a colleague in the Department of Family & Community Medicine.


The choice of my current field relates to my master’s degree. Of course, the one thing every one of us has in common is that we are aging every minute of every day. The way in which we age is related to a variety of factors such as genetics, environment, SES status, access to healthcare and other variables that can affect our risk of disease – i.e., epidemiology. I am interested in how those risk factors affect society’s view of prevention.


I’m not sure if it’s a true hobby, but I’m obsessed with history. History provides us with the early understanding of disease, the evolution of germs, early societies and the environments in which people lived and died. If you ask me next week, I may have moved on to another obsessive hobby.


I’m blessed to have married a husband who, like me, likes to visit new places. Unless we visit family, we do not visit the same place twice. We have family in the Ozarks, Georgia, Florida, Washington State and New Hampshire. All fun places to visit.







“Many people with patellofemoral pain reduce or stop doing activities because they cause pain, setting themselves up for a sedentary lifestyle, but if we can show them how to do the activity without pain, they might be more motivated to remain active.”

Gretchen Salsich, Ph.D., PT Professor, Physical Therapy

- Barb Yemm, PT, DPT, OCS (SLU Program in PT) served as the treating physical therapist for the pilot intervention study - Linda Van Dillen, PT, PhD and Catherine Lang, PT, PhD (Washington University Program in Physical Therapy) served as consultants on our pilot intervention study Funding Provided by: - NIH/National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences (NCATS), Washington University, Institute for Clinical and Translational Sciences - Orthopaedic Section of the American Physical Therapy Association - NIH/NICHD/National Center for Medical Rehabilitation Research - Irma Ruebling Endowed Research Fund - SLU Program in Physical Therapy and Doisy College of Health Sciences

Q:What was your motivation to begin this research? In my clinical practice as an orthopaedic physical therapist, I treated many patients who had a type of chronic knee pain called patellofemoral pain (pain around the knee cap). This is a very common, potentially debilitating pain problem that keeps people out of physical activity and may eventually lead to patellofemoral joint osteoarthritis. I was particularly interested in learning why some people got better with our standard treatments and others did not, so I pursued a PhD and post-doctoral training in movement science and biomechanics, and began investigating potential mechanical causes for lower limb musculoskeletal pain problems.

What is the scope of your research? The underlying premise of my research is that the postures and movement patterns that people adopt as they perform their daily activities lead to abnormal joint loading, tissue irritation, and, eventually, pain. These postures and movement patterns are modifiable because they largely develop out of habit (i.e. the body takes the path of least resistance). The research focuses on improving our understanding of movement-related factors that contribute to patellofemoral pain and using this knowledge to develop effective physical therapy treatment interventions. I assess the movement of body segments during a variety of tasks such as squatting, stair climbing and sitting. To understand the relationship between movement, pain and activity limitations, I collect questionnaire data on the person’s pain, perceived limitations and fear-avoidance beliefs, and correlate these measures with our movement data. From this information, we develop an individualized, task-specific movement training intervention.

Q: What have you found to be a major cause of chronic musculoskeletal knee pain? We have identified a movement pattern where the lower limb collapses inward as people bear weight on a bent knee (e.g. during squatting, stair climbing, running, etc). This movement pattern is comprised of excessive movement of multiple body segments (pelvis, thigh, lower leg) in multiple planes of motion, and in young adult women who have patellofemoral pain, the pattern is highly prevalent, is present during a variety of tasks, and is directly related to their pain behavior.

Q: How do you measure the way your patients move to determine if their movements are causing the pain? Using 3-dimensional motion analysis technology, we place reflective markers on body segments from the trunk to the foot. Then we use software to build a skeletal model of each person. From there we have people perform typical pain-provoking tasks (stair climbing, squatting, standing up from a low chair) while we quantify the motion at each joint in 3 anatomical planes. This lets us know specifically which joints are moving too much and in which planes of motion. We also ask people to rate their pain during the tasks to see which motions are associated with pain. In an earlier study, we asked people to exaggerate the movement impairment by giving them instructions to “Let your knee fall inward as you perform the task.” This resulted in an immediate increase in pain, which supports our underlying premise.

Q: How have you been trying to treat the patients involved, and how does that differ from traditional physical therapy treatments? The intervention we developed focuses solely on training people to move optimally during daily activities. People complete 12 sessions over 6 weeks, during which they are trained in basic daily tasks such as walking, stair climbing, squatting and sitting, plus additional tasks that are specific to the person’s goals (e.g. running, tennis, volleyball, dance). Key components are that people are educated about the relationship between the movement of their joints and the pain they are experiencing (and tested on this knowledge), and the high repetition and progression of task performance. Also, we don’t give much external feedback to individuals about how they are moving – we want the feedback to be internal so they can feel what optimal movement is – and we give a simple home program of “move optimally during all of your daily activities.” This differs from traditional physical therapy treatments because there are no specific muscle strengthening or stretching exercises prescribed during treatment sessions or as a home program.

Q: Why do you think a minimal at-home program can be a successful treatment plan? Realistically, people just don’t adhere to home exercise programs very well. This is true even in highly motivated people who like to exercise. The beauty of our home program is that once people understand how their movement patterns contribute to their pain, and are able to correct faulty movement patterns, they build this into activities that they are

already doing throughout the day. They don’t have to fit 20-30 minutes of additional exercises into a busy day. When we tested our intervention in a pilot study, participants reported an average daily adherence to their home program of 79%. Most exercise interventions have much lower adherence rates.

Q: What are the benefits to testing the patients to see if they understand what is happening during treatment? We believe it is critically important for people to have an active role in their treatment. To do this, they must know why we are asking them to do what we are, and they must “buy in” to the intervention and believe it is credible. By explaining that their pain has a mechanical cause and is related to the alignment and movement of their joints it makes sense that their treatment would be to correct the alignment and movement of their joints. We surveyed participants after they first learned about the intervention but before they started it, and on average, they gave the intervention a high credibility rating. This knowledge also gives people the ability to “treat themselves” down the road if their pain flares up again.

Q: How effectively do you believe teaching patients to move optimally during basic everyday movements can translate to reducing pain during more strenuous and repetitive movements such as those done during athletic events? Our intervention can be scaled up to any level. We had people in our study who were collegiate athletes and they were trained in their sport, but they were also trained in basic daily activities because optimal movement must become a habit. The importance of reinforcing and practicing basic daily activities is the only way people will amass enough repetitions to learn the “motor skill” of moving optimally. It needs to become automatic so they don’t have to think about it on the soccer field or basketball court. The training also needs to incorporate tasks that the person is interested in doing. Many people with patellofemoral pain reduce or stop doing activities because they cause pain, setting themselves up for a sedentary lifestyle, but if we can show them how to do the activity without pain, they might be more motivated to remain active.

Q: What do your current research findings suggest? Our findings suggest that habitual movement patterns may be a cause of chronic patellofemoral pain in young adult women, and that correcting faulty movement patterns may be an effective treatment for this condition.

Q: Where does your research go from here? I am in the process of developing a proposal for a larger clinical trial to test our task-specific movement intervention in a more robust way. Specifically, I’d like to know if positive effects we found in our pilot study can be replicated, how long the effects last, and the characteristics of people who respond positively to the intervention. I would also like to know if movement patterns play a role in the development of other musculoskeletal pain conditions like osteoarthritis. PAGE 19 | ON THE RECORD

CLINICAL CORNER Clinical placements play an instrumental role in the education of many students at the Doisy College of Health Sciences; they provide students in the advanced stage of their education with real-world experience that they need to become the health care professionals of tomorrow. Here are a few updates on the college’s clinical activities. To contact the clinical coordinator from any of the college’s programs, reference the information on the following page.

BLS Hosts A Day in the Clinical Lab for Local High School Students

Saint Louis University’s Biomedical Laboratory Science (BLS) Department and SLU’s Student Chapter of the American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology (ASBMB) invited junior and sophomore students from various St. Louis area high schools to participate in the “A Day in the Clinical Laboratory” event on Saturday, March 4, 2017. The event was geared toward high school students who are looking to pursue a career in the health professions and highlighted two of the programs offered by the BLS Department: Investigative & Medical Sciences and Medical Laboratory Science. Investigative & Medical Science offers a strong base in both the basic sciences and medically related coursework; it is a great preparatory degree for post-baccalaureate studies (especially medical school). Medical Laboratory Science prepares graduates to practice in hospital, reference or research labs in conjunction with other healthcare professionals in making diagnostic decisions. This event was a great opportunity for students interested in pursuing careers associated with medicine, research, clinical laboratories, forensic science and the pharmaceutical industry.

Health Resource Center Provides Much Needed Medical Care

One night a month, each Saint Louis University Physician Assistant (PA) student volunteers at the open-door Health Resource Clinic (HRC). The students, supervised by SLUCare physicians, provide much needed medical care to the underserved community of North St. Louis in the Victor Roberts building on Kingshighway. The HRC provides free physical exams, vision screening, vaccinations, labs, nutritional counseling, physical therapy and social services. The mission of the HRC is to serve the needs of the community and to educate patients. The goals of the PA students are to provide temporary primary care services for the uninsured and to help meet the needs of the increasing number of patients.

The Woman Behind the Clinical Curtain

Doisy College of Health Sciences takes great pride in its ability to offer programs spanning a wide array of Allied Health Professions. A challenge arises, though, when a college has many different programs offered to as many students as DCHS does, and that challenge is securing and maintaining the necessary amount of clinical sites to place all of the students. That’s where DCHS Contracts Coordinator Joan Lurkins works her magic. Joan works tirelessly with each individual program’s clinical coordinator and with representatives from the college’s approximately 800 clinical sites to make sure that each student that needs it has a clinical site to work and gain firsthand experience to prepare them for their future. Joan’s extensive knowledge of the process of securing and maintaining clinical sites allows DCHS to remain on the forefront of Allied Health Profession education.




Timothy G. Howell EdD, ATC, CES, CSCS Assistant Professor, Coordinator of Clinical Education (314) 977-8637

Rabia Rahman, M.S., R.D., L.D. Assistant Professor, Dietetic Internship Director (314) 977-8523



Emily Buxbaum, MS CCC-SLP Clinical Instructor, Director of Clinical Education (314) 977-7194 HEALTH INFORMATION MANAGEMENT (HIM) Teresa T. Neal MHA, RHIA Instructor, Program Director (314) 977-8704 MAGNETIC RESONANCE IMAGING (MRI) Austin Turner, MS, CNMT, PET, RT(MR) Instructor, Clinical Coordinator (314) 977-8601 MEDICAL LABORATORY SCIENCE (MLS) Amanda M. Reed, M.A.E., MLS(ACSP)CM Instructor, Program Director/Education Coordinator (314) 977-8686

Sarah R. Walsh, MOT, OTR/L Instructor, Academic Fieldwork Coordinator (314) 977-8573 PHYSICIAN ASSISTANT (PA) Genevieve DelRosario, MHS, PA-C Assistant Professor, Director of Clinical Education (314) 977-8635 PHYSICAL THERAPY (PT) Carol Beckel, PT, PhD Assistant Professor, Director of Clinical Education (314) 977-8539 RADIATION THERAPY (RT) Sherry Bicklein, MHI, RT(R)(T) Assistant Professor, Clinical Coordinator (314) 977-8647

NUCLEAR MEDICINE TECHNOLOGY Crystal Botkin, MPH, CNMT, PET Assistant Professor, Clinical Coordinator (314) 977-8592 PAGE 21 | ON THE RECORD

MEET DR. FRED ROTTNEK The New Medical Director for Physician Assistant Education

“The SLU PA program has an extraordinary record of training highly effective and collaboration-ready physician assistants.” - Dr. Fred Rottnek The Saint Louis University (SLU) Department of Physician Assistant Education recently announced Fred Rottnek, MD, MAHCM, will be the new Medical Director. The role of the Medical Director in the Physician Assistant program is to help guide the program from a physician’s point of view. Dr. Rottnek will be actively involved in the Physician Assistant program. Dr. Rottnek will be responsible for ensuring that the medical content of the curriculum is in concert with current standards of practice and is at the appropriate level and breadth for PA students. It is also the responsibility of the Medical Director to be an advocate for the Physician Assistant profession and for the SLU PA Program and to be active in

eliciting the understanding and support of practicing physicians, the university and the community. “I am delighted to be the new Medical Director for the PA Department,” Dr. Rottnek said. “The SLU PA program has an extraordinary record of training highly effective and collaboration-ready physician assistants. I look forward to contributing my clinical experience and community connections to this outstanding program.” Dr. Rottnek began working with PAs during his Family Medicine Residency at Deaconess Hospital. He later served as a faculty physician in his residency program, Family Medicine of St. Louis, and completed a Faculty Development Fellowship at University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. After working for several years in Correctional Health Care, Homeless Health Care and in neighborhood health centers, he completed a Master of Arts in Health Care Mission at Aquinas Institute of Theology. In 2008, Dr. Rottnek joined SLU’s Department of Family and Community Medicine, where he is a professor and Director of Community Medicine. He teaches in the School of Medicine and the Interprofessional Education Program, directs the Rodney M. Coe Distinction in Community Service Program and mentors students in longitudinal community service. Dr. Rottnek also serves on the Saint Louis Regional Health Commission as the Chair of the Provider Services Advisory Board, as

well as serving on the board of the Criminal Justice Ministry. Most recently Dr. Rottnek has joined the Concordance Academy of Leadership as the Medical Consultant to build the health services model for reentering participants. Additionally, he acts as Medical Director for St. Louis Effort for AIDS. He is currently working with colleagues in the SLU community and with national organizations to promote training and practice in Addiction Medicine. Dr. Rottnek is eager to use his experience to help the SLU PA Program and the profession of physician assistant continue to thrive. “I have trained and worked with SLU PA students and faculty throughout my career,” Dr. Rottnek said. “I see this as an excellent opportunity to further my understanding of interprofessional collaborative practice, to promote and integrate the PA profession at SLUCare practices and to advocate for the profession on a regional and national level.”



RABIA RAHMAN, MS, RD, LD “My favorite part of my job here at SLU is the students. I come to work every day with a smile on my face because I truly value my time with our students. I am continually impressed by the caliber of our students. Additionally, I learn as much from our students as they learn from me and that is a very rewarding experience. Their enthusiasm for learning, life, and the profession is infectious and pushes me to always do my best.” IN HER OWN WORDS

THE JESUIT MISSION SLU’s mission of the pursuit of truth for the greater glory of God and the service of humanity with the ultimate goal of becoming men and women for others is an important driver in how I approach my service to the profession and our students. I aim to create an educational environment that is informative and collaborative, but above all, encourages students to be active participants in the world around them. I want my teaching to extend beyond the nuts and bolts of nutrition to include compassion, a desire to help others and improve the quality of life for ALL individuals.

WHY NUTRITION AND DIETETICS I have always had an interest in working in the area of eating disorders; therefore, I felt my degree in psychology, in conjunction with becoming a registered dietitian, would enable me to be most effective in making a difference. Additionally, I have always been interested in the culinary arts and the program at SLU offered a nutrition degree with a culinary emphasis, further allowing me to engage in an educational environment tailored to my specific interests and passions.

FAVORITE STL RESTAURANT There are so many good ones, it’s hard to pick just one. A few top ones: Pho Grand, Eleven Eleven Mississippi, anywhere on the Hill.

IDEAL VACATION SPOT Anywhere with a beach. I like being able to relax outdoors and there is just something special about listening to the waves of the ocean, with the sun warming you, while reading a good book.






On the Record spring 2017 edition  
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