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 Physical Therapy & Rehabilitation Sciences Department

Developing Industry Leaders

Through technology-enhanced practice facilities and cutting-edge research labs, Drexel’s PT programs allow students to develop advanced skills through evidence-based clinical practice, teaching and research.

Physical Therapy Department

For over 30 years, Drexel’s nationally ranked Physical Therapy and Rehabilitation Programs have provided a rich, technology-infused environment for students to develop skills in evidence-based clinical practice, teaching, and research. Drexel’s faculty, through structured instruction and mentorship, strives to develop leaders who excel in health care settings, classrooms and research labs.

Drexel’s nationally and internationally recognized faculty members are among the most highly respected and productive academicians, researchers and clinicians in the country with expertise in a variety of specialty areas. Through their work, they have developed numerous local, national and international clinical teaching and research collaborations and garnered funding from a variety of different agencies. Drexel’s research laboratories and funded researchers provide students with the opportunity to pursue exciting initiatives in multiple areas. 

Many of our faculty have won numerous teaching awards and over half of the faculty members continue clinical practice. The department’s faculty practice, Drexel University Physical Therapy Services, has sites at the 11th Street Family Health Services, in the Drexel University Recreation Center on Drexel’s University City Campus and in the Parkway Building on Drexel’s Center City Campus. Students in the department’s programs get the opportunity to work with faculty in these clinical settings to help refine their patient care skills.  The faculty believe that co-treating patients with developing clinicians helps to foster strong, innovative clinical decision making skills in its graduating clinicians.

Additionally, Drexel’s clinical practice facilities are closely aligned with its research labs and other disciplines within the college so that faculty and students have the opportunity to make connections between patient care and discoveries in the lab as well as appreciate the interaction amongst the entire healthcare team.  The College of Nursing and Health Professions includes Nurses, Physician Assistants, Couple and Family Therapists, Nutritionists, and Creative Art Therapists.  A 37,000 square foot multidisciplinary clinical and research facility on the center city campus helps facilitate interaction amongst these groups and provides opportunities for each discipline to contribute to optimal patient care.


Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT)
Become a competent, compassionate and innovative physical therapist.

Doctor of Health Science in Rehabilitation Sciences (DHSc)
Take a leadership role as an educator and master clinician in Rehabilitation Sciences.

Doctor of Philosophy in Rehabilitation Sciences (PhD)
Prepare for a leadership role as a researcher and educator in rehabilitation sciences.

Certificate in Advanced Practice in Hand and Upper Quarter Rehabilitation
If you are a PT or an OT, participate in advanced study of the hand and upper quarter rehabilitation—designed for occupational and physical therapists.

Certificate in Advanced Practice in Pediatric Rehabilitation
Participate in advanced study of pediatric rehabilitation—designed for occupational and physical therapists.

Orthopaedic Physical Therapy Residency Program
Participate in a comprehensive curriculum of didactic and structured mentorship to develop into evidence-based practitioners ready and able to advance the profession and patient care in the community.

Physical Therapy and Rehabilitation Faculty

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News & Events



Established over 225 years ago, the College of Physicians of Philadelphia is the oldest professional medical organization in the US.  It began in 1787 as 24 physicians gathered in Philadelphia “to advance the science of medicine and thereby lessen human misery.”  As of 2015, there are nearly 1,500 Fellows who continue to meet at the College to carry on the mission of its founders. 

One of the newest Fellows is Maria Benedetto, DPT, an associate clinical professor in the Department of Physical Therapy and Rehabilitation Sciences.  However, Benedetto is not new to the College of Physicians.  For the past four years, she has been a mentor with their Karabots Junior Fellows Program which works with high school students from communities under-represented in current health care professions.  It is one of her passions, and she enjoys bringing students on campus for interactive activities. 

As a Fellow, Benedetto will not only continue to work with Karabots, but she will also participate in a second educational program, the Teva Summer Internships.  She’d also like to explore other possible mentorship opportunities dealing with physical activity and obesity in children. 

Benedetto was nominated by  Stanley Goldfarb, MD, FCPP, MACP, the President of the College of Physicians, and will be inducted as a Fellow on May 8, 2015 when she will sign her name in the same book the founding members used in 1787. 


Karen Goldschmidt, PhD, an assistant clinical professor and Department Chair for the RN-BSN Online Degree Completion Program, successfully defended her dissertation at Villanova’s College of Nursing on March 27, 2015. 

Fred DiCostanzo, EdD, an assistant teaching professor in the Department of Health Administration, recently defended his dissertation entitled “The Impact of a Standardized Participant Learning Experience on the Critical Thinking Disposition of Undergraduate Health Administration Students,” and will graduate from Rowan University in May with the degree of Doctor of Education.

Jennifer Quinlan, PhD, an associate professor in the Department of Nutrition Sciences, has been funded by the United States Department of Agriculture for her Small Business Innovation Research Program grant, titled Retail Business to Promote Consumption of Processed Foods that Contribute Key Nutrients of Concern to Consumers.

Kate Morse, PhD, an associate clinical professor in the Division of Graduate Nursing, recently published the article “Structured Model of Debriefing on Perspective Transformation for NP Students” in the journal, Clinical Simulation in Nursing.

Sue Smith, PT, PhD, an associate professor and Interim Chair of the Department of Physical Therapy and Rehabilitation Sciences, was recently interviewed about Osteoporosis for Health and Wellness, the web series.

Stella Volpe, PhD, a professor and Chair of the Department of Nutrition Sciences, will be receiving the Distinguished Graduate Organization Award from her alma mater, Plymouth-Whitemarsh High School.  


All About Stephanie:

I grew up in Cincinnati, Ohio where the first 18 years of my life consisted of hours upon hours of dance classes and dance competitions. I also have a great passion for travel and learning new languages. My favorite place in the world is Israel; I‘ve traveled there seven times! While in high school I sought out Drexel University for its 3+3 BS/DPT program and locale in the middle of an east coast city. My three undergrad years at Drexel were great and flew by quickly. I was a dancer and choreographer in the Drexel Dance Ensemble, spending my free time exploring Philly and the surrounding big cities. PT school started a whole new chapter where my classmates became my family members. I left the east coast for my first two clinical experiences at a large trauma hospital in Albuquerque and an outpatient clinic in downtown Chicago. The three years of PT school at Drexel were so special thanks to the amazing faculty members. Each professor greatly inspired and motivated me to be a part of this profession.

What made you decide to pursue a degree in Physical Therapy?

With a passion for dance, I knew I wanted to pursue a kinesthetic career and one that would help people. Physical Therapy is exactly that. Initially I had hoped to become a therapist for a large dance company working closely with dancers, but after my undergraduate co-op experience as a therapy aide at Magee Rehab hospital my interests shifted to that of neurorehab. Specifically, stroke recovery.

Where are you working now?

I live in Los Angeles, California and work at Glendale Memorial Hospital. I have a unique opportunity at this hospital where I can treat patients in acute care and also in the acute rehab facility. In the acute care hospital I see patients in every unit including the ICU. This area of Southern California is very diverse, and in a normal day of work I speak 5-7 different languages!

What is your favorite part of being a Physical Therapist?

So many great aspects of this profession! How could I choose one? To start, I love having the opportunity to motivate my patients. Being a patient in the hospital is not easy; it is emotionally and physically draining. When I enter a patient’s room my goal is to get them out of bed and back to doing what they love, restoring a part of their dignity and independence. Therapists are some of the best listeners, teachers, friends, coaches, and shoulders/hips/thighs to lean on (literally).

You recently had a very interesting and ultimately rewarding experience.  Tell us about it.

On Friday, January 16, I was evaluating a patient that was set to be discharged from our hospital. He had been admitted for about 48 hours with Atrial Fibrillation. He was completely independent prior to admission, though during my evaluation he presented with moderate gait ataxia. It was odd since he had (-) finger to nose and (-) heel to shin tests. His blood pressure was high, and when the nurse attempted to give him blood pressure medicine, he kept coughing on the water. I immediately called the code for rapid response team, though the nurse was at the bedside telling me I was overreacting. Once the team came, they assessed for strength deficits and didn't find any. When they asked the patient to smile he had no facial droop. Then when I said he was having difficulty swallowing they asked the patient if he ate breakfast. The patient answered yes, he had eaten breakfast. I kept trying to explain that if he had a cerebellar infarct he wouldn't have strength deficits or a facial droop but I wasn't being heard. The rapid response team eventually left the room feeling that the patient was stable, but I was still uncomfortable. I begged the nurse for a stat CT and as it turned out, he had a cerebellar bleed.

It took a lot to go against what the nurse and rapid response team were telling me. I could've begged for this stat CT and very well have been wrong. I would've delayed discharge and scared the patient and his family for no reason. But, somehow I had the confidence to follow my intuition. I thank all of the Drexel PT faculty and staff for giving that to me.

In your account, you say that both the nurse and the rapid response team felt that the patient was stable and that he needed no CT.  What made you insist on the CT?

A common saying in healthcare is that strokes are like snowflakes; no two strokes are ever the same.  Yet, the nurses and those on the rapid response team have been trained to look for hemiparesis (weakness on one side of the body) or a facial droop when detecting a stroke. Physical Therapists have a more in-depth ability to assess for other signs including deficits in balance, coordination, and sensation. Three red flags were present that made me insist on the CT scan. First, the patient exhibited significant coordination deficits affecting balance and his ability to walk. This was a drastic difference in his functional ability from just two days prior. Second, the patient’s blood pressure was dangerously high. Lastly, while attempting to take medication the patient exhibited signs of difficulty swallowing.  I was resolute knowing that if a stroke had occurred in the cerebellum, the nurses wouldn’t see the signs they were looking for. With all three of these red flags, I felt our hospital would be doing a large disservice to the patient if we sent him home without further investigation.

Furthermore, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention my professors here. I can recall countless soapbox lectures (ahem, Dr. Ebaugh) where they drilled into us the idea that as DPT’s we do have the expertise to stand our ground for our patients.  

What is your advice to students interested in a career in Physical Therapy?

If you want to be a motivator, someone that creates goals and then provides the tools to succeed, don’t let textbooks or hours of study deter you from choosing a career that will reward you every day. And if you do decide to pursue Physical Therapy, be open to learning about the many different patient populations that need your help.   

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