Wednesday, July 18, 2012

The Theresa Bernsen Memorial Award 2012

This year marks the official formation of the Theresa Bernsen Memorial Award. Theresa Bernsen (1965-2010) was the first Honors graduate in Physical Therapy, receiving her undergraduate Honors Physical Therapy degree from Saint Louis University in 1986.  She joined the Physical Therapy faculty in 1991 as an instructor, was promoted to assistant professor in 1998, and then to associate professor in 2008.  In addition to her faculty responsibilities, she served as advisor to the Honors students in the Program in Physical Therapy. In recognition of her tireless work in assisting Program in Physical Therapy students enrolled in the Honors Program, the Theresa Bernsen Memorial Award has been established to help Program in Physical Therapy Honors students meet expenses associated with completing their Honors Thesis.

The 2012 recipient of the Theresa Bernsen Memorial Award, Juliana Silver is a Program in Physical Therapy student in her senior year. In regards to receiving the award Silver says, “My main message is that receiving this award in Theresa's name is a huge honor and I'm thankful to her family for creating the Memorial Fund.” Silver remembers meeting Theresa at her orientation to the Program in Physical Therapy and speaking to her for a long time about the honors program. “Her enthusiasm for honors work was one of the things that drew me to SLU.  I’m privileged to receive this award in her honor!”

The project Silver created to receive the award was conducted over a 4 week period in the summer of 2011 in Akko, Israel as part of SLU-Madrid’s summer abroad program. Below Silver describes the project and her inspiration for creating it while in Akko:

Juliana Silver at the archaeological dig site in Akko, Israel

I took part in an archaeological dig called “Southern Plain of Akko Project," with students from all over the world.  While I was there, many people experienced back pain from the work.  The lack of proper body mechanics, combined with the long workday is what I attributed to the cause of the back pain. I wanted to create something that could be distributed to future archaeological students to help minimize low back pain. The first part of my project was a literature review of research done on a variety of workers that experienced back pain from bad postures, or from lack of education on proper body mechanics.  This allowed me to take information from other professions and apply it directly to the work of archaeologists.  The second part of my project consisted of creating laminated cards that have photos of proper and improper body postures to be aware of while working at the dig site.  The cards were sent to the dig coordinator in Israel, where she is hopefully using them right now.  I also was able to present this project to the Physical Therapy Student Council in April. I knew I wanted to use my experience in Israel as inspiration and this fit perfectly with physical therapy.  It was important that my project was something tangible, but was easy to use and send to Israel.


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