A Breakthrough Dual Degree Program from the Feinberg School of Medicine and the McCormick School of Engineering and Applied Science
How can healthcare give back what disease, injury, or disorder has taken away? How can we better compensate for the loss of function following stroke, trauma, or complications related to degenerative diseases like Parkinson’s disease or multiple sclerosis? With a new joint program, the Feinberg School of Medicine is offering the perfect educational complement to meet this challenge. Together with the departments of Biomedical Engineering, Mechanical Engineering and Electrical Engineering and Computer Science at the McCormick School of Engineering and Applied Science, the Department of Physical Therapy and Human Movement Sciences has developed a new program that will award students a Doctorate of Physical Therapy (DPT) and a PhD in engineering. Beginning in September, the program will become an offering of The Graduate School.
The program, the first of its kind in the nation, is a true integration of engineering and physical therapy. Through the visions of Dr. Julius Dewald and Dr. Matthew Glucksberg, the program combines two specialty fields with one great intersect: movement disorders. This program builds upon the quantification and understanding of movement disorders to improve the delivery of physical therapy—from research, through patient care, and back again. As described by Dewald, the joint degree curriculum will train a “whole new professional with a strong background in engineering and physical therapy.”
Through recent “design revolutions,” physical therapy relevant technologies have become smaller and less expensive than ever before, leading to their greater acceptance and usage in the field. Now, through fundamental engineering research, student scientists are developing instrumented measurement and treatment approaches that will remove much of the trial and error that often must be undertaken to determine a proper care regimen in rehabilitation. By questioning issues that have never been examined before, the students will lead unique research efforts and clinical successes for patients with debilitating diseases and conditions.
The program will provide seven years of training for students—in the classroom, movement and rehabilitation laboratories, and academic physical therapy clinics. The medical school is uniquely positioned to offer this well-rounded program thanks to the quality of education offered by the Department of Physical Therapy and Human Movement Sciences, placed among the top DPT programs in the country. The Feinberg School of Medicine will fully finance the three years of DPT education for two new DPT/PhD students each year to support the creation of this highly innovative joint degree program. Once the program is fully active, the medical school will support six students within the program at one time. Their seven years of graduate physical therapy and engineering education at Northwestern University will well-equip these physical therapy and engineering professionals to fulfill the hope of Glucksberg: “to step in and out of both worlds without effort.”
Julius Dewald, PT, PhD, is chair of the Department of Physical Therapy and Human Movement Sciences and associate professor of biomedical engineering at the McCormick School of Engineering and Applied Science.
Matthew Glucksberg, PhD, is chair of the Biomedical Engineering Department at the McCormick School of Engineering and Applied Science.
For more information about the DPT/PhD in engineering program, contact Professor David Brown PT, PhD, at 312-908-0976.