Opportunities for Regenerative Rehabilitation and Advanced Technologies in Physical Therapy: Perspective From Academia

As rehabilitation specialists, physical therapists must continue to stay current with advances in technologies to provide appropriate rehabilitation protocols, improve patient outcomes, and be the preferred clinician of choice. To accomplish this vision, the physical therapy profession must begin to develop a culture of lifelong learning at the early stages of education and clinical training in order to embrace cutting-edge advancements such as, stem cell therapies, tissue engineering and robotics to name a few. The purposes of this article are to provide a current perspective on faculty and graduate student awareness of regenerative rehabilitation concepts and to advocate for increased integration of these emerging technologies within the doctor of physical therapy (DPT) curriculum. An online survey was designed to gauge awareness of principles in regenerative rehabilitation, and to determine whether the topic was included and assessed in doctoral curricula. The survey yielded 1006 responses from 82 DPT programs nationwide and indicated a disconnect in familiarity of the term regenerative rehabilitation and awareness of the inclusion of this material in the curriculum. To resolve this disconnect, the framework of the curriculum can be used to integrate new material via guest lecturers, interdisciplinary partnerships, and research opportunities. Successfully mentoring a generation of clinicians and rehabilitation scientists who incorporate new medical knowledge and technology into their own clinical and research practice depends greatly on sharing the responsibility among graduate students, professors, American Physical Therapy Association (APTA), and the DPT programs.

Creating an interdisciplinary culture and integrating regenerative medicine and rehabilitation concepts into the curriculum cultivates individuals that will be advocates for interprofessional behaviors and will ensure the profession meets the goals stated in APTA Vision 2020.