Tuesday, March 12, 2013

An Interview with Dr. Edelle Field-Fote

Dr. Edelle Field-Fote will discuss, “Up to Standard: aligning practice, research, and the ideals of our profession,” at this year’s Annual Irma Ruebling Distinguished Speaker Series, presented by Saint Louis University’s Program in Physical Therapy on Thursday, March 21 at 5:30pm. 
Dr. Edelle Field-Fote is a professor for the departments of physical therapy and neurological surgery at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine and the director of the Neuromotor Rehabilitation Research Laboratory at the Miami Project to Cure Paralysis. In anticipation of Dr. Edelle Field-Foote’s discussion, we interviewed her with some simple questions to discover how she became interested in the current field she is in, what challenges and rewards present themselves in her field, and what advice she would have to students desiring to pursue a similar career. 
 How did you initially become interested in working with patients with spinal cord injuries? 
One of my first patients as a new PT was a young man who was my age and had a SCI from an ATV accident.  His being so close to me in age really made me understand that SCI is one of those life-changing injuries that affect all aspects of your life for the rest of your life.  And it can happen to anyone at any time, even healthy young people with their whole lives in front of them 
What are the most rewarding aspects of what you do? The most challenging aspects? 
The more rewarding aspect is when people who have been in studies tell me that the gains they made in function really changed their lives, that they regained the ability to walk onto a plane by themselves rather than being wheeled in by the airport transporter who doesn’t know a thing about people with disability, or being able to go out to dinner by themselves and order whatever they want because they regained sufficient hand function to be able to cut their own steak and not have to ask the waiter to do it or order something else so that they don’t have to ask for help.  The biggest challenge these days is the greatly limited availability of federal dollars for research.
 What would your advice be to students interested in pursuing neuro-based research careers? 
While people with neurological disorders make up a relatively small proportion of the total number of people who receive PT services each year, PTs typically work with these individuals for a longer period of time than we do with other clinical populations.  Because of that we have a large impact in their lives, and develop strong bonds – because of that I believe that working with people with neurological disorders is the most rewarding area of practice.

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