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UD physical therapy program earns top spot in nat'l ranking

Eli Chen/Delaware Public Media

University of Delaware’s graduate physical therapy program is ranked number one in the nation.

This is according to a list of top graduate schools published this week in the U.S. News & World Report. UD shares top ranking in that category with University of Pittsburgh, University of Southern California and Washington University in St. Louis.

Gregory Hicks chairs the physical therapy department.

“These are the people who are shaping where physical therapy practices are going in the future," said Hicks. "Having those leaders in our department--it’s what sets us apart and what makes us unique.”

UD’s physical therapy students have demonstrated a 100 percent pass rate on the national physical therapist licensing exam.

Professors there are also conducting cutting edge research to help improve mobility for seniors with Parkinson’s to infants with cerebral palsy. To do this, they’re using, testing and sometimes reinventing tools like harnesses and exoskeletons.

Last year, they forged a collaboration with the Bear-Glasgow Family YMCA, which installed harness systems to allow people with disabilities to use fitness equipment.

They're also working on ride-on cars as part of their GoBabyGo program, in which these cars have been altered to help children with disabilities.

Hicks says they’re also trying to shape where the field is going by increasing diversity in the physical therapy workforce. He notes only 9 percent of physical therapists are not white.

“If people are going into a clinical environment, whether it’s to see a physician, a dentist, or a physical therapist. And no one in the facility looks anything like them, it already sets up a bit of a barrier for some people," said Hicks.

The school’s physical therapy program is mainly housed at the university's Science Technology and Advanced Research (STAR) campus.

The U.S. News and World Report rankings also placed UD’s chemical engineering program in the nation’s top 10 in that field.

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