UCF Physical Therapy
The University of Central Florida (UCF) and Orlando Health (OH) Neurologic Residency Program is a great opportunity for physical therapists to advance their knowledge and develop their clinical skills in the area of neurologic rehabilitation. The residency is designed to prepare residents in the advance practice of neurologic physical therapy as clinical specialists committed to optimizing patient care and improving the quality of life of individuals in the community.
The selected resident is mentored by nationally recognized and award-winning clinical and didactic faculty. The neurologic resident is the heart of the program, and the “current” residency curriculum is designed based on the strength, previous experience, and interest of the “current” resident accepted into the program.
The mission of the UCF & OH Neurologic Physical Therapy Residency is to prepare residents in the advance clinical practice of neurologic physical therapy as a clinical specialist committed in the development and strengthening of our healthcare communities, optimizing patient care in the current healthcare environment and improving the quality of life of individuals in the community. Graduates of the residency program will express their training through excellence in clinical practice, improvement in quality of care, increased knowledge in foundational science and management of patients with neurologic lesions, application of evidence-based practice, involvement in community service, pursuit of lifelong learning through involvement in education of future physical therapists and participation in clinical research to expand the body of knowledge in neurologic physical therapy.
The University of Central Florida and Orlando Health Neurologic Residency Program is accredited by the American Board of Physical Therapy Residency and Fellowship Education as a post-professional residency program for physical therapists in Neurology.
- Support the mission, core values and tenets of excellence of University of Central Florida-Orlando Health Neurologic Physical Therapy Residency of strengthening the healthcare community by creating a positive experience and providing highly effective care for patients with neurologic lesions specifically in in the area of neuromuscular preferred practice patterns A through I as defined by the Guide to Physical Therapist Practice (2001).
- Train highly qualified clinicians ready to achieve board certification in neurologic physical therapy by developing a curriculum that meets the requirements for neurologic certified specialist certification by the American Board of Physical Therapy Specialties.
- Develop clinical decision making skills through consistent supervision and advance neurologic physical therapy practice by integrating evidence based practice and foundational neuroscience.
- Promote inclusiveness and foster involvement in the community by providing residents the skills needed to become a resource for patients with chronic neurological lesions.
- Demonstrate commitment to lifelong learning by preparing the residents to become competent educators and mentors in teaching patients, colleagues and physical therapy students.
- The program will deliver education and training using the Academy of Neurologic Physical Therapy’s recommended outcome measures and evidence-based interventions in patient-client management of adults with lesions of the neuromuscular system. The program will result in proficiency in dealing with neurologic patients commonly seen in acute, inpatient and outpatient rehabilitation and will include exposure to different specialty clinics including adults with multiple sclerosis, aphasia and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis; pediatric patients with neuromuscular lesions; and geriatric patients with dementia. The didactic faculty will provide instruction and guidance in scholarly activities such as research and teaching in the UCF physical therapy graduate school setting while the clinical faculty will provide clinical supervision of the residents within the designated clinical sites in the Orlando Health System.
- The program will focus in improving the quality of care of individuals with neuromuscular system lesions by utilizing outcome measures represented in the domains of the World Health Organization’s International Classification of Functioning, Disability and Health (ICF), and using evidence-based interventions addressing an individual’s impairments, activity limitations and participation restrictions.
- The program’s curriculum which include didactic and clinical components will acknowledge all aspect of the APTA Neurologic Physical Therapy’s Description of Specialty Practice. The program’s didactic faculty will provide instruction in the area of neuroscience and management of patients with neurologic conditions and guidance in clinical research while the program’s clinical faculty will provide mentorship in the areas of clinical skills and evidence-based practice. The residents will also be engaged in community service related to individuals with neuromuscular system involvement.
12-month residency program include an R1 doctoral university, a level 1 trauma center, a primary stroke center, a CARF accredited spinal cord injury, brain injury, and stroke programs, a comprehensive multiple sclerosis center and neurodegenerative disorders clinic.
Earn salary with benefits.
Nationally recognized award-winning faculty of the residency programs including:
Licensure Pass Rate
In the history of the UCF & Orlando Health Neurologic Residency program, all graduating residents who applied for the board specialty examination have passed the Neurologic Clinical Specialist (NCS) board specialty examination by the American Board of Physical Therapy Specialties (100%).
Licensure Exam Trend
All residents who applied for the board specialty examination have achieved a 100 percent first attempt pass rate on the Neurologic Clinical Specialist (NCS) board specialty examination by the American Board of Physical Therapy Specialties.
One hundred percent employment rate. Residents of the graduation year 2018, 2019, 2020, and 2022 were employed by Orlando Health after graduating from the residency program. A resident of the graduation year 2021 worked in a different healthcare organization but remained as per diem staff at Orlando Health after graduation.
The graduation rate of UCF & Orlando Health neurologic resident who began the program in the years 2018, 2019, 2020, 2021, and 2022 is 100 percent.
Dr. Sarah Kollas
Sarah Kollas is the newest resident of the University of Central Florida and Orlando Health Neurologic Residency Program. Kollas is the sixth resident in the highly successful program, which is designed to prepare residents in the advanced practice of neurologic physical therapy by further developing their clinical skills. The program provides a pathway for residents to meet minimum eligibility requirements to apply for the neurologic board specialty examination and become a board-certified specialist in neurologic physical therapy.
- Level 1 Trauma Center, designated by the American College of Surgeons
- Teaching Hospital Accreditation, designated by the Council of Teaching Hospital – Association of American Medical Colleges’ Council of Teaching Hospitals
- Joint Commission Hospital Accreditation
- Primary Stroke Center Certification, designated by DNV GL
- Commission on Accreditation of Rehabilitation Facilities (CARF) accredited inpatient rehabilitation facility with four specialty programs:
- Brain Injury Program
- Spinal Cord Injury Program
- Stroke Program
- Comprehensive Inpatient Program
Outpatient Rehabilitation: Residency time is divided among 2 facilities (5 months)
- Commission on Accreditation of Rehabilitation Facilities (CARF) accredited outpatient rehabilitation facility
- Designated by the Florida Department of Health:
- Brain Injury Program Facility
- Spinal Cord Injury Program Facility
- Concussion Rehabilitation Program
- Vestibular Rehabilitation Program
Outpatient 2: Neurodegenerative Disorders Clinic
- Designated by the National Multiple Sclerosis Society Partners in Multiple Sclerosis Care
- Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis Clinic
- Parkinson Disease
Optional Experience: Observation and clinical experience to Arnold Palmer Pediatric Outpatient
The didactic portion of the residency includes three semesters (12 months) of coursework at the University of Central Florida. As one of the top research institutions in the country, UCF has earned the following designation:
- Carnegie Foundation Classification of Institutions of Higher Education: Very High Research Activity and Community Engagement.
- US Department of Education: Hispanic Serving Institution
The resident will be enrolled for a total of two credit hours per semester. The curriculum is based upon the following:
- Description of Residency Practice (DRP) published by the American Board of Physical Therapy Residency and Fellowship Education
- Description of Specialty Practice (DSP) in Neurologic Physical Therapy published by the American Board of Physical Therapy Specialties
Patient and Client Management
There will be three semesters of coursework related to patient and client management of patients with neurologic lesions. The patient management content will be taught by DPT & Residency Program faculty members who are nationally recognized experts in neurologic rehabilitation. The didactic curriculum will follow the clinical experience at Orlando Health where the didactic topics reflect the diagnoses of patients seen during the clinical rotation.
The resident is expected to complete a neurologically based research capstone project at the end of the residency program. The resident will work with a research advisor and a neurologic content expert throughout the residency. The resident will have the opportunity to participate in other ongoing DPT program research activities including data collection at the UCF Knights on the Go Traumatic Brain Injury Rehabilitation Café and current Orlando Health research projects.
The resident will have a special opportunity to participate in teaching basic and advance neurologic physical therapy courses in the UCF Doctor of Physical Therapy program. The resident will be mentored by the neurologic course instructors in preparing an instructional plan to teach several modules related to their current clinical work experience at Orlando Health.
Professional Service and Community Engagement
Each semester, the residents are required to participate in professional service, community engagement and service-learning opportunities that involve different activities involving neurologic clients and support groups in the greater Orlando area including but not limited to stroke, brain injury and multiple sclerosis. Residents are encouraged to present in state level presentations, be active in professional organizations and community service.
- All applicants to the residency program are required to have successfully graduated from a CAPTE accredited physical therapy program.
- All applicants to the residency program must have a current license in the state of Florida or be scheduled to take the board examination in July 2023.
- All applicants are required to complete and pass the Florida Laws and Rules Examination.
- All applicants are required to have three letters of reference that should discuss their clinical skills as a physical therapist, one of which must come from a current rehabilitation director or a clinical instructor (for new graduates).
A Residency Admissions Committee will select residents based on the recognized criteria. An interview with the Residency Admissions Committee is required for all candidates. Interviews are conducted on “first come, first serve” basis.
Rick Beato is the Director of the UCF & Orlando Health Neurologic Residency Program. He is an Associate Professor in the Doctor of Physical Therapy Program at the University of Central Florida’s School of Kinesiology and Rehabilitation Sciences. He is a recipient of the Academy of Neurologic Physical Therapy’s Award for Excellence in Neurologic Education, the Florida Physical Therapy Association’s (FPTA) Award for Excellence in Academic Teaching, the Academy of Physical Therapy Education’s Distinguished Mentor in Residency and Fellowship Education Award, the FPTA Neurology SIG’s Outstanding Neurologic Physical Therapist in Education, and the Federation of State Boards of Physical Therapy’s Outstanding Service Award. He became board certified as a clinical specialist in neurologic physical therapy in 2011 and in geriatric physical therapy in 2012. Rick is the current Chair of the Neurologic Specialty Council and the past Chair of the Geriatric Specialty Council of the American Board of Physical Therapy Specialties. He is a Task Force Member of the APTA Resident Entrustable Professional Activities (EPA) Work Group and of the APTA Future of Specialization Reactor Panel.
Kristen Cezat, PT, DPT, NCS, ATP/SMS
Dr. Cezat is RESNA certified Assistive Technology Professional as well as Seating and Mobility Specialist and a Board Certified Neurologic Clinical Specialist by the American Board of Physical Therapy Specialties. She was awarded the first Clinician of the Year Award by the Academy of Neurologic Physical Therapy (ANPT) Spinal Cord Injury Special Interest Group and the Outstanding PT/PTA Team Award by the Florida Physical Therapy Association and the American Physical Therapy Association. She is the Chair of the Nominating Committee of the Academy of Neurologic Physical Therapy’s Spinal Cord Injury Special Interest Group (SIG) and the Co-Host of the ANPT SCI SIG’s podcast.
She currently works as a clinical rehabilitation specialist at Orlando Health Rehabilitation Institute’s inpatient rehabilitation where her specialties include rehabilitation of patients with traumatic and neurologic injury as well as wheelchair evaluation/training for adults with neurologic conditions. She received her Doctor of Physical Therapy degree from University of Central Florida in 2011. She recently presented at Spinal Cord Injury Treatment across the Continuum in 2017 on topics including Seating and Mobility as well as Basic Transfer/Basic Bed mobility techniques. She is an adjunct faculty in the University of Central Florida’s physical therapy program for neurology courses on topics such as spinal cord injury and wheelchair mobility.
Marissa Conrad, PT, MS, NCS, CBIS
Ms. Conrad is a Board Certified Neurologic Clinical Specialist by the American Board of Physical Therapy Specialties and a Certified Brain Injury Specialist by the Academy of Certified Brain Injury Specialists. She has received the Academy of Neurologic Physical Therapy Award for Outstanding Clinical Innovator. She also received a Certification of Achievement for Vestibular Rehabilitation competency from Emory University School of Medicine. She earned her Bachelor of Arts from Wake Forest University and graduated from the University of Central Florida with a Master of Science in Physical Therapy. She is a clinical faculty member for the UCF-Orlando Health Neurologic Physical Therapy Residency Program. She currently works at the Orlando Rehabilitation Institute outpatient clinic as the lead of the vestibular and concussion rehabilitation program. Marissa has presented in national and state conferences on vestibular and concussion rehabilitation.
Christine Davidson, PT, DPT, NCS
Davidson is a clinical faculty and neurologic outpatient physical therapy supervisor for the UCF-Orlando Health Neurologic Physical Therapy Residency Program. She graduated summa cum laude with a Bachelor of Science in Psychology in 2007 and received her Doctor of Physical Therapy degree at University of Florida in 2010. She received her board certification in neurologic physical therapy in 2015. Her subspecialties include stroke and brain injury rehabilitation. Davidson is a certified clinical instructor by the American Physical Therapy Association. She currently works at the inpatient rehabilitation unit of the Orlando Rehabilitation Institute. She is also the Chair of the Florida Physical Therapy Association East Central District and is the Secretary of the FPTA Neurology Special Interest Group. She has been awarded the Outstanding PT/PTA Team Award both by the American Physical Therapy Association and the Florida Physical Therapy Association.
Christopher “CJ” Curran, PT, DPT, NCS
Dr. Curran is a Board Certified Neurologic Clinical Specialist by the American Board of Physical Therapy Specialties. He works as a clinical specialist in the Stroke and Brain Injury Center of the Orlando Health Advance Institute of Rehabilitation. Dr. Curran has been published in peer reviewed journal including the Journal of Acute Care Physical Therapy and has presented in peer reviewed conferences including the Florida Physical Therapy Association’s Annual Conference on topics of stroke rehabilitation and psychometric properties of outcome measures. He graduated from the UCF Doctor of Physical Therapy Program.
Nicole Dawson 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. Dawson is a Board Certified Geriatric Physical Therapist with over 15 years of clinical experience along with a PhD in Adult Development & Aging Psychology from Cleveland State University. 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. 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 the immediate past Chair of the Geriatric Specialty Council of the American Board of Physical Therapy Specialties. She is a past recipient of the Margaret L. Moore Award for Outstanding New Academic Faculty Member from the American Physical Therapy Association and the Academy of Geriatric Physical Therapy’s Distinguished Educator Award. Dawson is the research coordinator and teaches the research component UCF-Orlando Health Neurologic Physical Therapy Residency Program.
Jacqueline Flores-Otero, PhD, is a Clinical Associate Professor of Anatomy and Director of Physical Therapy Gross Anatomy Laboratory at the University of Central Florida. She graduated with a PhD in Neuroscience, followed by two Postdoctoral Fellowships in Neuro-Oncology at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, Memphis, TN, and at the Institute of Neurobiology-University of Puerto Rico, San Juan, PR. Flores-Otero has over 15 years of basic and clinical research in areas including: auditory and visual system, Alzheimer’s disease, pediatric retinoblastoma, prostate cancer, endocannabinoid system as therapeutic targets for cancer and cell signaling. Flores’ research work has been disseminated in peer-reviewed journals, national and international conferences. Her teaching portfolio includes Cell and Molecular Biology, Neurobiology/Neuroscience, Anatomy and Physiology, Human Gross Anatomy, Histology and Embryology, among other areas. Flores has mentored students at different academic levels, from high school to graduate and medical areas.
Erin Jones, PT, DPT, NCS, CBIS
Dr. Jones is the Residency Coordinator for the UCF-Orlando Health Neurologic Physical Therapy Residency Program. She is a Board-Certified Specialist in Neurologic Physical Therapy, as well as a Certified Brain Injury Specialist by the Academy of Certified Brain Injury Specialists. She is the Rehabilitation Educator at Orlando Heath Rehabilitation Institute. She received her Master’s in Physical Therapy degree from the University of Central Florida in 2008 and went on to earn her transitional Doctorate in Physical Therapy degree from A.T. Still University in 2012. She has been a co-director on two grants, one to host a two-day conference on spinal cord injury for healthcare practitioners in the community, and the other to develop an adaptive CrossFit program for individuals in the community living with spinal cord injury and disease. Jones have presented several times at the APTA NEXT Conference on different topics including crisis response and management of patients with spinal cord injury in the acute care setting. Erin regularly presents at the Florida Physical Therapy Association Annual and Spring conferences. Her specialty includes rehabilitation of patients with traumatic and neurologic injury. She was awarded multiple grants from the Christopher Reeve Foundation and the Craig Neilsen Foundation for her work in individuals with spinal cord injury.
Marla Laloo, PT, DPT, NCS
Dr. Laloo is a Board-Certified Specialist in Neurologic Physical Therapy by the American Board of Physical Therapy Specialties. She earned both her Bachelor of Science in Health Sciences and Doctor of Physical Therapy degrees at the University of Central Florida. She has been a clinician for 12 years, working primarily with patients with neurological impairments. She also received a Certificate of Achievement in Advanced Vestibular Rehabilitation from Emory University School of Medicine. She is an adjunct and clinical faculty for the UCF Doctor of Physical Therapy Program. She currently practices at Orlando Health’s Institute for Advanced Rehabilitation in an outpatient setting primarily seeing concussion and vestibular patients. Dr. Laloo was awarded the Outstanding Neurologic Physical Therapist Clinician Award by the Florida Physical Therapy Association Neurology SIG. She was awarded the Community Rehabilitation Services Grant from Orlando Health to provide pro bono care for uninsured patients.
Laurie Neely is an Assistant Professor and the Director of Clinical Education in the Doctor of Physical Therapy Program at the University of Central Florida. She is the recipient of the Academy of Acute Care Physical Therapy’s Katherine Harris Educator Award. Neely is board certified by the American Board of Physical Therapy Specialties in Neurologic Physical Therapy and has over 10 years of clinical experience in the acute care setting with an emphasis on cardiopulmonary and neuro-trauma patient populations. She was the founder and a facilitator of the Annapolis Stroke Club at Anne Arundel Medical Center prior to relocating to Florida. She is active in campus wide interprofessional activities and community service and has presented at numerous state and national conferences on interprofessional education and clinical education including APTA’s CSM, NEXT and Educational Leadership Conference. She has been inducted to the Academy of Advance Item Writers of the Federation of State Boards of Physical Therapy and is a current member of the Exam Development Committee for the National Physical Therapy Examination.
Clayton Stocker, PT, DPT, NCS, CBIS
Dr. Stocker is a Board-Certified Specialist in Neurologic Physical Therapy, as well as a Certified Brain Injury Specialist by the Academy of Certified Brain Injury Specialists. Clayton was the first resident of the UCF & Orlando Health Neurologic Residency Program. He has presented in national and state conferences such as the APTA NEXT Conference, the Combined Sections Meeting and the FPTA Annual Conference and Assembly of Representatives on topics related to neurologic rehabilitation. He currently works in Stroke and Brain Injury Center of the Orlando Health Advance Institute of Rehabilitation. He is an adjunct faculty and a clinical faculty in the UCF Doctor of Physical Therapy Program in the School of Kinesiology and Rehabilitation Sciences.
Jennifer Tucker is the Director of the University of Central Florida’s “Go Baby Go” and “Knights on the Go Traumatic Brain Injury Rehabilitation Cafe”, a program that promotes early mobility for children and adults with motor impairment. She earned her post professional doctorate from the University of South Alabama, her Master of Science in Physical Therapy from the University of Indianapolis and her Bachelor of Science in Psychology from the University of Alabama. She is Board Certified Pediatric Clinical Specialist by the American Board of Physical Therapy Specialties and was a member of the Pediatric Specialization Academy of Content Experts. She completed a research fellowship at the UCF College of Health and Public Affairs. She is a core faculty member for the UCF DPT program where she teaches basic and advanced neurologic and pediatric courses. Tucker is also a faculty member of the UCF & Orlando Health Neurologic Residency Program. She is a recipient of the Florida Physical Therapy Association’s Award for Excellence in Academic Teaching and the American Physical Therapy Association’s Societal Impact Award.
The University of Central Florida and Orlando Health Neurologic Residency Program is the recipient of the Neurologic Residency Grant awarded by the Academy of Neurologic Physical Therapy in 2017.
The program is accredited by the American Board of Physical Therapy Residency and Fellowship Education.