Thursday, September 22, 2022

The Program in Physical Therapy celebrates Cheryl Cavallo

Dr. Cheryl Cavallo (center) pictured at Hustle For Your Health.
Kim Levenhagen (far left) and Gloria Schwartz (right)

This week is a busy week here in the Program in Physical Therapy.  Friday is the kickoff of Homecoming 2022 at Saint Louis University.  For the past 21 years, the Program in Physical Therapy has sponsored Hustle for Your Health.  Dr. Cheryl Cavallo was a long-time supporter of Hustle for Your Health (H4YH), coordinating the event for 11 years (pictured above in the middle, green shirt) before losing her courageous battle with cancer in 2013.  The faculty and staff have warm and bright memories of Cheryl.

Dr. Cavallo is remembered by many as the epitome of professionalism, excellence, and drive.  She was a servant leader -- the physical therapist, the faculty member, who was the first to arrive and the last to leave.  In the words of Dr. Barb Yemm, “Cheryl was the will of the department.”  She led by example and that example was the high bar of excellence.  She was clear in her high expectations and standards. Many students were initially intimidated by her intensity but awestruck by her compassionate dedication to their education.  She committed countless hours to the students to ensure that each student had many opportunities to reach those expectations.  

Dr. Cheryl Cavallo pictured with faculty and staff of Doisy College of Health Sciences (2011)

Former students recall many lessons they learned from her, not through classes or clinical instruction, but from her heart.  Dr. Cavallo taught her students to…

kneel down when speaking to someone in a wheelchair to look directly into their eyes and be on the same level with them; 

have patience when listening to people, no matter how long it took them to form the words; 

listen to patients with our eyes so we observe their faces when they speak and see what their lips do not always share;

recognize that the mind and hands are the most valuable tools that a therapist will ever possess, but if not used with the heart, they are ineffective; 

never give up on patients no matter how devastating their prognosis, and to never let them give up on themselves; 

maintain a patient’s dignity while cleaning them up after an accident – this is more beneficial to the patient than an entire day spent in physical therapy; 

And she taught her students that helping someone in need is the greatest gift that could be given because it is the right thing to do.  

She gave selflessly in all areas.  

Even physically in the classroom…Gait training on the stairwell with Dr. Cavallo role playing the patient was a real experience.  If the student was to be practicing appropriate guarding of the patient who had a fall risk, then Dr. Cavallo would embody that role as a patient and actually fall!  Many SLU graduates today will never lose focus when guarding a patient thanks to Dr. Cavallo’s portrayal of the patient.  
Dr. Cheryl Cavallo pictured with Dr. Randy Richter and Diane Richter (2011) 

She lived the Jesuit mission every day by giving back to those less fortunate.  Cheryl participated in mission trips to Haiti and El Salvador.  She was extremely passionate about student involvement in service trips. Cheryl truly saw her profession as a gift because she could serve other people.  

The Cheryl Cavallo Memorial Scholarship was established to reflect Cheryl's passion and lifetime commitment to the education of her students and their preparation in the Jesuit tradition to become men and women for others. The purpose of this award is to assist physical therapy students in their upcoming PY III year who have the same desire to participate in healthcare-related domestic or international mission trips. All proceeds from the memorial fundraiser, Hustle for Your Health, will benefit the Cheryl Cavallo Memorial Scholarship.  ( ) To support this scholarship or other scholarships for the Program in Physical Therapy, please go to the giving page @ SLU.  

Dr. Cheryl Cavallo received her bachelor's, master's, and doctorate degrees from Saint Louis University and was a member of the faculty for 32 years, retiring in 2011. During her tenure, she received multiple awards for teaching and service including the Alumni Merit Award in 2011.

H4YH is a poignant reminder of how Cheryl continues to influence the Program in Physical Therapy and her indelible impact on all of us within the SLU community fortunate to have interactions and memories of Cheryl.


Tuesday, September 20, 2022

Lab is Child's Play for Students in Neurological Conditions II

Annual 'Baby Lab' Helps PY3 Students Learn About Developmental Milestones
Written by Emily Redpath (Class of 2023)

Some students from the DPT Class of 2023 will tell you that working with children is their dream, while others… Not so much. Either way, it is likely that everyone will encounter children throughout their future careers as physical therapists.  Therefore, it is important that everyone has the chance to interact with children of all ages to see the differences in language and motor development across childhood. 

In the annual baby lab, coordinated by Neurological Conditions II course instructor Jessica Luechtefeld, PT, DPT, PCS, students had the opportunity to play with children ranging from just a few months old to 9 years old. 

Students worked in groups to note different developmental milestones among the children while playing with them.  

The focus in lab was on gaining comfort playing with children and not on creating or performing interventions, however, the students were still able to see the importance of keeping kids engaged and making all activities centered around fun!

This lab would not be possible without the help of those who generously volunteered their children for participation. 

Monday, September 19, 2022

SLU PT Alumni Spotlight: John Schaefer, PT, DPT, CSCS

SLU PT Alumni John Schaefer Incorporates Other Passions into PT 

John Schaefer, PT, DPT, CSCS (Class of 2022) had experienced much uncertainty surrounding the field of Physical Therapy throughout his time at SLU. Having other interests including marketing, entrepreneurship, and journalism, he often asked himself how he could incorporate all these different fields into a future career and if PT was the right path for him.

As a PY3, he decided to start reaching out to PT’s around the country, who were pursuing unique ventures and doing things he didn’t know were possible under the title of DPT. He began recording these conversations and now routinely releases episodes on his podcast SnackBreak, under the parent company Orthosnacks (@orthosnacks), an educational platform and social media company focused on empowering students and clinicians to make the most out of their DPT with bite sized, digestible information.

John is currently an orthopedic resident training in Houston, TX @harrishealthsystems and just released the book THE RESIDENCY PLAYBOOK: A Step By Step Guide To Mastering the RF-PTCAS and Securing A Spot in Your Dream Physical Therapy Residency with the goal of demystifying the residency application process for future applicants! You can purchase the workbook on Amazon in either paperback or kindle format, as well as listen to the audio versions for free on Spotify and Youtube.

Thursday, September 15, 2022

Thank you for your interest in the Program in Physical Therapy at Saint Louis University!

Thank you for your interest in the Program in Physical Therapy! 

We are happy to help you with any questions or concerns that you may have regarding our program. 

Here are a few quick facts about our program:

The Program in Physical Therapy is an early assurance DPT program. Students enter the program as freshman and continue to completion of the DPT degree without additional application or taking the GRE. This creates a comfortable atmosphere for friendships and cooperative studying with your classmates. Progression in the program is based on your own academic and professional performance. 

Our early assurance DPT program takes place over 6 years, including 2 summers. There are many opportunities in addition to our DPT program, to pursue minors, double majors, as well as to study abroad in the fall semester of your junior year.

Program in physical therapy faculty are recognized in their field holding a variety of clinical specialties, such as orthopedics, neurology, geriatrics, and wound care. Additionally, they are involved in research and scholarship related to the field of physical therapy presenting the latest evidence regionally, nationally, and internationally. 

Dr. Oluwatoyosi Owoeye with Jemma Jiyun Kim, SPT, with her 1st place winning research poster.

Some students find opportunities to engage in research during their time at SLU, often working in collaboration with faculty.

Dr. Jason Longhurst engaging in research with a student.

Program in Physical Therapy students, faculty, and staff are involved in service in the greater St. Louis Community.  Professional phase students evaluate and treat patients pro bono under the observation of a licensed physical therapist at The Health Resource Center Physical Therapy Clinic

SLU PT students at the pro-bono HRC PT Clinic.

One of the best ways to really experience a university is to visit. We encourage you to schedule a visit to Saint Louis University by contacting our Office of Admission at (314) 977-2500 or using this link. To learn more about the Program in Physical Therapy I encourage you to sign up for PT Academic Info Session

Physical Therapy Student Association (PTSA)
PTSA is our Department of Physical Therapy student organization that connects are first year students with our graduate level students and creates a community for them. They have multiple service opportunities, host multiple learning sessions with a diverse group of licensed PTs (dry needling, pelvic floor, etc.) as well as hosting social activities every semester that keep our PT students engaged while also providing an outlet for relaxation and fun!

Explore STL
St. Louis has so much to offer whether it be going to the St. Louis Art Museum, attending the Major League sports team games, or finding hidden gem restaurants, there is something for everyone. With Saint Louis University being located in Midtown, you get the best of both worlds; the exciting city life but also the exploration of the different neighborhoods that surround SLU.

Student Life at SLU
SLU offers exciting events for all students to attend! Whether it be Fall Welcome events such as Paint SLU (first image) or the Vibe Concert put on by the Student Activities Board with big name acts such as Steve Aoki (second image), there is something for everyone!

I encourage you to check out our additional resources!

Tuesday, September 13, 2022

SLU PT Student Emily Redpath Uses Scholarship to Focus on Service in Belize

Cheryl L. Cavallo Memorial Scholarship Spotlight

by Emily Redpath (DPT Class of 2023)

The Cheryl Cavallo scholarship allowed me to spend 4 weeks of my clinical experience at Hillside Healthcare International in Punta Gorda, Belize! The clinic provides free healthcare services to members of the Toledo district, where 80% of its 30,000 inhabitants are living below the Belizean poverty line.  Through the clinic, I worked with another SLU PT student, Alysa Janke, SLU faculty member, Carol Beckel, PT, PhD, and the rehabilitation director, Julia Steiner, PT, to provide physical therapy services.  There are less than 20 licensed physical therapists in Belize and Hillside provides the only physical therapy services in the Toledo district, so this is an incredibly important service that this scholarship has helped me to offer. 

Carol Beckel, PT, PhD, Alysa Janke, Julia Steiner, PT, and Emily Redpath outside the outpatient physical therapy center at Hillside

Each morning we worked in the outpatient clinic and every afternoon we would travel around the town for home health visits. Providing home health visits was one of my favorite parts of the experience because it allowed me to get to know my patient’s values better so that I could form a strong connection to treat them in the most effective way possible.  Additionally, we travelled on mobile clinics to villages around the Toledo district to provide care in more remote areas. The mobiles had just started up again after the pandemic during my time in Belize, so the villages that we traveled to had not been visited by Hillside in over two years.  On the mobiles we evaluated patients with musculoskeletal complaints, created long-term treatment plans for them to perform during the time in between our village visits and educated people on what physical therapy is and how simple changes in their daily activities can help to alleviate their pain and make them move better.

The start of our 3 hour drive for a mobile visit to a rural village

Looking out on the village from the mobile clinic location

Another one of my favorite parts about this experience was the interprofessional care that we were able to provide. On our mobile visits, Alysa and I co-evaluated patients alongside the medical students and residents.  We got to work through patient cases together as an interprofessional team and ask questions of each other not only on mobiles, but with many patients at the clinic.  Each student had a different way of treating a patient’s diagnosis, so it was enlightening to view each patient from each medical professional’s lenses.  It was a great way for Alysa and I to advocate for physical therapy as well because the medical student and residents were able to see first hand what we do and how we can help patients.

Treatment team of doctors, residents, medical students, pharmacy students and physical therapy students

SLU PT students Alysa Janke and Emily Redpath presenting about causes of low back pain to other students

Taking blood pressures and blood sugars and educating patients on healthy habits at the monthly health fair

Overall, this has been one of the most meaningful experiences that I have had during my time at SLU.  I was pushed out of my comfort zone and feel that I grew not only as a practitioner, but as a person.  This experience challenged my creativity skills in treating patients to create interventions that did not use typical resources found in clinics back in the states.  I furthered my love for physical therapy because I saw truly how impactful it can be to people’s lives, even if they are only coming a few times a month. Dr. Carol Beckel said it best upon her departure from the clinic, “A portion of my heart stays behind each trip.” This rings true for me after returning to campus from this clinical experience. I will never forget the people that I met on this rotation and I will always think of the experiences I had in Belize as I move forward in my education and career. I am beyond grateful for the Cheryl Cavallo scholarship that helped me to live out this dream and provide physical therapy to the wonderful people of Belize. 

Celebrating the amazing experience 

To support this scholarship, sign up for our annual Hustle for Your Health 5k at this website: