Faculty and Staff

Nicole Dawson, PT, PhD, GCS is an Assistant Professor in the Doctor of Physical Therapy Program at the University of Central Florida and Co-Director of the Innovative Mobility Innovative (IMOVE™) Lab.  She graduated from Ohio University with a Master’s degree in Physical Therapy in 2002.  Dr. Dawson is a Board Certified Geriatric Physical Therapist with over 15 years of clinical experience along with a PhD in Adult Development & Aging Psychology.  Her current area of research includes developing non-pharmacological interventions to improve functional and psychosocial outcomes in patients with dementia, identifying predictors of falls in older adults with cognitive impairment, as well as gaining a better understanding of the illness experience of individuals with dementia.  Dr. Dawson has been published in peer-reviewed journals including The Gerontologist and the Journal of Geriatric Physical Therapy.  She has presented at numerous international and national conferences on the subject.  She is passionate about the bettering the treatment and care of these patients and is dedicated to assisting students and clinicians in gaining skills and knowledge to better help these patients maximize their potential.

  • BS, Bachelor of Science, Sports Medicine, Baldwin-Wallace College
  • MA, Master of Arts, Adult Development & Aging Psychology, Cleveland State University
  • MPT, Master of Physical Therapy, Ohio University
  • PT, Licensed Physical Therapist
  • Ph.D., Doctor of Philosophy, Adult Development & Aging Psychology, Cleveland State University
  • GCS, Board-Certified Clinical Specialist in Geriatric Physical Therapy
  • Development, implementation, and evaluation of non-pharmacological interventions for older adults (specializing in individuals with dementia)
  • Gaining a better understanding of the illness experience for older adults with chronic illness, specifically those with dementia, through a biopsychosocial approach
  • Training and development of the growing eldercare workforce
  • Identifying risk factors for falls in older adults with and without cognitive impairment
  • Studying predictors of successful and optimal aging
Areas of Specialty
  • Non-pharmacological interventions for older adults
  • Predictors of successful and optimal aging
  • Risk factors for falls in older adults with cognitive impairment
  • Understanding the illness experience for individuals with dementia
Research Lab Affiliations
  • PHT7521C: Management of PT Services II
  • PHT7789C: Advanced Geriatric PT
  • PHT6521: Management of PT Services
  • PHT6374C: Geriatric PT
  • PHT5003: Foundations of PT
  • PHT5125L: Clinical Kinesiology Lab
  • UCF Division of Physical Therapy Announces William Hanney as Chair
    Written By: Paul Kelly | September 14, 2022
    The UCF College of Health Professions and Sciences confirmed William Hanney as chair for the Division of Physical Therapy. Hanney previously served as interim chair. Hanney joined the Physical Therapy...
  • Recipients of the 2022 Seed Funding Program Announced
    Written By: Zenaida Gonzalez Kotala | March 10, 2022
    The program awarded a total of $1 million to 32 teams. This is the third year the program has been available to UCF faculty and researchers. UCF announced the recipients...
  • DPT Faculty, Students, and Alumni to Present at APTA Combined Sections Meeting
    Written By: Drexler B. James'13 | January 20, 2022
    Students, alumni, and faculty members will represent the Division of Physical Therapy at the annual American Physical Therapy Association Combined Sections Meeting, which will be held February 2 – 5...
  • Physical Therapy Students Help Patient Make Great Strides in Physical and Cognitive Abilities
    Written By: Drexler B. James'13 | September 23, 2021
    Two recent physical therapy alumni played a key role in increasing the mobility of a dementia patient during a 12-week physical therapy session where by the end, the patient no longer needed his cane to walk. They used their experience as a research opportunity to examine the impact...
  • UCF and Orlando Health Residency Program Offers DPTs Advanced Neurologic Training
    Written By: Camille Dolan '98 | August 20, 2020
    Olivia Berry is the latest physical therapist to complete a neurologic residency offered by a partnership between UCF and Orlando Health. The UCF & Orlando Health Neurologic Residency Program offers post-graduate training in...
  • How Alzheimer’s Disease Impacts Patient, Family and Friends and How to Rally Support in the Community
    Written By: Drexler B. James '13 | June 24, 2020
    While everyone occasionally forgets a name, or why they entered a room, changes in cognition and behaviors might be indicators of something more serious. These could be signs of dementia...
  • UCF and Orlando Health Residency Faculty Shine at APTA Combined Sections Meeting
    Written By: Rick Casano Beato | March 6, 2020
    The UCF & Orlando Health Neurologic Residency faculty were busy at this year’s Combined Sections Meeting of the American Physical Therapy Association held at the Colorado Convention Center from March...
  • UCF DPT Faculty Appointed to Multiple PT Specialty Board Positions
    Written By: Megan Pabian | February 14, 2020
    Three UCF Doctor of Physical Therapy Program faculty members representing three different board specialty areas of physical therapy are headed to Denver, Colorado February 11-15 for the annual meeting of...
  • Neurologic Residents Present at the FPTA Annual Conference
    Written By: Rick Beato | December 16, 2019
    Two residents of the University of Central Florida and Orlando Health neurologic residency program presented their research at the 2019 Florida Physical Therapy Association Annual Conference and Assembly of Representatives...
  • UCF Student Wins National Award for Research on Walking Speed of Elderly
    Written By: Drexler B. James | January 25, 2019
    Ashleigh Trapuzzano devotes herself to research to benefit elderly adults and her work has not gone unnoticed. The Academy of Geriatric Physical Therapy on Thursday presented Trapuzzano, a third-year physical...
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