UCF Physical Therapy
The University of Central Florida and Orlando Health 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 mission of the University of Central Florida-Orlando Health 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 Physical Therapy Association 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 with an R1 doctoral university
- Earn salary with benefits
- Expert faculty mentors and instructors of the residency and doctoral programs including:
– 8 Board Certified Neurologic Clinical Specialists
– 2 Board Certified Pediatric Clinical Specialists
– 2 Board Certified Geriatric Clinical Specialists
– 4 Researchers in the areas of Neuroplasticity, Parkinson’s Disease, Spine and Alzheimer’s disease
– 4 Certified Brain Injury Specialists
– 2 Certified Multiple Sclerosis Specialists
– 1 Certified in Vestibular Competency
Dr. Olivia Berry
Dr. Olivia Berry is the current resident of the UCF & Orlando Health Neurologic Residency Program. She is currently working at Orlando Regional Medical Center Institute for Advance Rehabilitation’s spinal cord, stroke and brain injury program. She has presented on the topic of assessment of normal pressure hydrocephalus with shunt dysfunction in acute care at the Florida Physical Therapy Association Annual Conference and Assembly of Representatives. Her residency research focus on the predictive validity of the Postural Assessment Scale for Stroke patients on admission to inpatient rehabilitation when compared to the Berg Balance Scale score and gait speed at discharge.
Tell us about yourself, academic history, research interest and passion:
“I graduated from the University of Florida in 2015 with my Bachelor of Science in Biology and then attended the University of Central Florida where I completed my Doctor of Physical Therapy degree in May of 2019. I am a Florida native, born and raised on the Space Coast. When I’m not working you can find me somewhere near the water. My research and clinical interests lie in effective interventions for traumatic brain injury, spinal cord injury, vestibular disorders and Parkinson’s disease. I am especially interested in the use of assistive technology in physical therapy.”
What do you enjoy most in the neurologic residency program?
“This residency is unique in that it really is tailored to the resident’s interests. My mentors, both at Orlando Health and UCF, are always on the look-out for interesting opportunities and patient cases to maximize my exposure to a variety of neurologic patient presentations. For example, I expressed an interest in spinal cord injury from the start and the program mentors have found every opportunity to provide hands-on experience with those patients that have come through the trauma center and inpatient rehab facility. As another example, the mentors are training me to utilize gait assistive technologies through body weight supported treadmill training and an exoskeleton, as well as seating evaluations for wheelchair prescription.”
Why did you choose neurology and why did you choose UCF & Orlando Health Neurologic Residency?
“Early on in my physical therapy degree program, I took an interest in working with neurologic populations. It is both challenging and rewarding to work with these patients, but most importantly it is a privilege to help people perform the most fundamental things like sitting independently and walking again. I chose the UCF & Orlando Health Neurologic Residency for multiple reasons. It has allowed me the opportunity to work with some of the best minds in neurologic PT within a progressive, patient-centered, level one trauma center in Orlando Health. In addition, this program offers numerous teaching opportunities at my alma mater UCF alongside highly specialized and accomplished faculty members. This allows me to refine not only my knowledge of neuroanatomy and neuro rehab, but also develop my teaching skills with feedback from students currently in the program.”
Acute Care: Orlando Regional Medical Center (3 months clinical rotation)
- 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
Inpatient Rehabilitation: Orlando Health Rehabilitation Institute Inpatient Rehabilitation (5 months clinical rotation)
- 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 3 facilities (4 months)
Outpatient 1: Orlando Health Rehabilitation Institute Outpatient Rehabilitation
- 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
Outpatient 2: Multiple Sclerosis Comprehensive Care Center
- Designated by the National Multiple Sclerosis Society Partners in Multiple Sclerosis Care
Outpatient 3: Outpatient Pediatric Rehabilitation at Arnold Palmer Hospital for Children
The didactic portion of the residency includes three semesters (12 months) of coursework at the University of Central Florida. UCF earned the highest designation in the Carnegie Classification of Institutions of Higher Education for Research Activity and Community Engagement. The resident will be enrolled for a total of two credit hours per semester. The curriculum is based upon the Description of Specialty Practice (DSP) in Neurologic Physical Therapy published by the American Board of Physical Therapy Specialties/ Neurologic Specialty Council in 2016 and the Description of Residency Practice published by the American Board of Physical Therapy Residency and Fellowship Education in 2017.
There will be one semester of coursework in neuroscience and neuroanatomy. The neuroscience content will be taught by two full time neuroanatomist/neuroscientists in the DPT & Residency Program. This include extensive laboratory time in the Anatomy Dissection Laboratory. UCF is one of the very few of residency programs that include the Anatomage technology for didactic instruction.
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 trained experts in neuromotor interventions and neurologic rehabilitation.
Sciences related to critical inquiry will be covered throughout three semesters of coursework. The resident is expected to complete a neurologically based research 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 DPT capstones.
The resident will have a special opportunity to participate in teaching anatomy, 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. Residents will also have the opportunity to supervise DPT students in their interprofessional collaborations with speech therapy students at the UCF Aphasia House and UCF Communication Science Disorders clinics.
Service and Community Engagement
Each semester, the residents are required to participate in community engagement and service learning opportunities that involve different neurologic support groups in the greater Orlando area including but not limited to stroke, brain injury and multiple sclerosis. The resident also supervises the DPT students during pro bono patient treatments as part of the DPT Program’s Advance Neurology classes and in partnership with Orlando Health Outpatient Rehabilitation.
- 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 2020.
- 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 a clinical assistant professor in the Doctor of Physical Therapy Program at the University of Central Florida’s School of Kinesiology and Physical Therapy. He earned his bachelor’s degree in physical therapy from the University of Perpetual Help in 1999 and received his post-professional clinical doctorate from the University of South Dakota in 2014. He became board certified as a clinical specialist in neurologic physical therapy in 2011 and in geriatric physical therapy in 2012. He is a Certified Exercise Expert for the Aging Adult and is trained on Neuro IFRAH & LSVT. Rick is the immediate past chair of the Geriatric Specialty Council and the current Maintenance of Specialty Certification (MOSC) Liaison for the council. Rick is a recipient of the Federation of State Boards of Physical Therapy’s Outstanding Service Award. He is active in the Academy of Neurologic Physical Therapy as previous chair of the Awards Committee, NCS Online Review Coordinator of NCS Committee, and the co-chair of the PTA Advance Proficiency Task Force for Neurology. He currently serves on the Membership, Practice and Continuing Education Committees of the Florida Physical Therapy Association and is the inaugural chair of the FPTA Neurology Special Interest Group.
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. She graduated from Ohio University with a Master’s degree in Physical Therapy in 2002. 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 became an item-writer in 2016 and was a member of the GCS Standard Setting Task Force. Dawson is the research coordinator and teaches the research component UCF-Orlando Health Neurologic Physical Therapy Residency Program.
Hanney is an assistant professor in the Doctor of Physical Therapy Program at the University of Central Florida teaching research and orthopedic manual therapy. He earned his Bachelor of Science in Exercise Science/ Athletic Training from the University of West Florida, his Master of Science in Physical Therapy and Doctor of Physical Therapy from the University of Saint Augustine Health Sciences, and his PhD in Physical Therapy from Nova Southeastern University. He is the Associate Editor of the Strength and Conditioning Journal. He has multiple articles published in numerous journals including Physical Therapy, Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, Archives of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, International Journal of Sports Physical Therapy and American Journal of Lifestyle Medicine. He is also a recipient of the Strength and Conditioning Journal Editorial Excellence Award.
Neely is a Clinical Assistant Professor and the Director of Clinical Education in the Doctor of Physical Therapy Program at the University of Central Florida. 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.
Sonne is an Assistant Professor of Gross Anatomy and Neuroscience for University of Central Florida’s Physical Therapy Program where he also researches the effects of physical exercise on animal models of neurodegeneration. He earned his Ph.D. in 2013 from the Department of Anatomy & Neurobiology at the University of Kentucky College of Medicine for his pre-clinical, translational studies on the prevention of Parkinson’s disease using a novel peptide delivered to the brain non-invasively by nasal spray. He holds certificates in Good Laboratory Practice (GLP) for Clinical Trials by the U.S. FDA and a Graduate Teaching Certificate in the Human Anatomical Sciences. He is the Director of the Bioquantification Analytical Laboratory and the Director of the Gross Anatomy Laboratory of the UCF DPT program.
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.
Kristen Cezat, PT, DPT, ATP/SMS
Cezat is RESNA certified Assistive Technology Professional as well as Seating and Mobility Specialist. 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 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 programs.
Christine Davidson, PT, DPT, NCS
Davidson is a clinical faculty 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.
Rachel Gonzalez, PT, DPT, NCS
Gonzalez is a Board Certified Specialist in Neurologic Physical Therapy. She currently works as a clinical rehabilitation specialist for Orlando Regional Medical Center. She received her Doctor of Physical Therapy degree from the University of Central Florida in 2010. She is a certified basic and advanced credentialed clinical instructor by the American Physical Therapy Association. She recently presented at the APTA NEXT conference on treatment for patients with spinal cord injury in the acute care setting. She has also presented at the Southern Regional Burn Conference on Early mobility in the trauma ICU and critical care polyneuropathy in the burn injured patient. Her specialty includes acute care rehabilitation of patients with traumatic and neurologic injury as well patients who suffer from burn injury. She is a clinical faculty for the UCF-Orlando Health Neurologic Physical Therapy Residency Program.
Erin Jones, PT, DPT, NCS, CBIS
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.
Mariel Repetto, PT, MSPT, CBIS
Ms. Repetto is a Certified Brain Injury Specialist by the Academy of Certified Brain Injury Specialists. She graduated from the University of Central Florida with a Master of Science in Physical Therapy. Ms. Repetto has 12 years of experience working with patients with neurological conditions. She is a recipient of the Outstanding Physical Therapist/Physical Therapy Assistant Team Award from the Florida Physical Therapy Association and from the American Physical Therapy Association. She is the current treasurer of the Greater Orlando Spinal Cord Injury Network.
Shannon Schlissel, PT, DPT, NCS, CBIS
Schlissel 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 currently works as a clinical rehabilitation specialist for Orlando Regional Medical Center. She received her Master of Physical Therapy degree from the University of Scranton. She earned her Doctor of Physical Therapy degree from A.T. Still University in 2014. She is certified as basic and advance credentialed clinical instructor by the American Physical Therapy Association. She has co-authored a grant for spinal cord injury augmented and adaptive communication and is the founder of the Orlando Health Stroke Support Group. She regularly presents at the FPTA Annual and Spring Conferences on topics such as communication strategies in patients with aphasia and management of spinal cord injury. Her specialty includes acute care rehabilitation of patients with traumatic and neurologic injury. She is a clinical faculty for the UCF-Orlando Health Neurologic Physical Therapy Residency Program.
Robyn Vellenilla, PT, DPT, MSCS
Ms. Vallenilla is a Multiple Sclerosis Certified Specialist by the Consortium of Multiple Sclerosis Center. She received her Doctor of Physical Therapy from the University of Florida. She currently sees patient at Orlando Health’s Multiple Sclerosis Comprehensive Care Center of Central Florida. She is the coordinator of the multiple sclerosis support group and has presented on the Florida Physical Therapy Association Annual Conference on rehabilitation of multiple sclerosis patients.
Kelly Worsfold, PT, DPT, PCS
Worsfold a Board Certified Specialist in Pediatric Physical Therapy and currently works for Orlando Health’s Arnold Palmer Hospital for Children. She received her Doctor of Physical Therapy degree from the University of Florida in 2014 where she was a teaching assistant for Human Anatomy. Worsfold is a credentialed clinical instructor by the American Physical Therapy Association. She is a graduate of the Brooks Rehabilitation Pediatric Physical Therapy Residency Program. Kelly is a clinical faculty for the UCF & Orlando Health Neurologic Residency Program.
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.