Lisa Chiarello, PT, PhD, FAPTA, a pediatric physical therapist, professor and director of DHSc program in Rehabilitation Sciences, has built a body of research and expertise around the concept of family-centered care and imparts to her students the importance of being responsive to everyone’s needs, not just the child’s. “With the education or training we have done in the past, we see therapists who are very skilled at their interactions with children and providing the specific physical therapy techniques,” she said. However, now she’s more methodical in mentoring students to provide balance between the engagement with both the child and parents in the process.
Chiarello, in her work with children with disabilities, was drawn to the construct of engagement because it encompasses not just relationships, but also doing the work “thoroughly and with meaningful intention” and cultivating a deep understanding of the topic. “I encourage my students to also look in the field of psychology and early childhood education,” she remarked. “I want them to see problems from various perspectives. Integration across these disciplines help us understand and solve problems much more effectively,” added Chiarello.
Her role at the College of Nursing and Health Professions has afforded her the opportunity to influence and effect change. “My position as a faculty member in the Department of Physical Therapy and Rehabilitation Sciences has enabled me to embrace my roles across research, teaching and service.” All three of these responsibilities are equally important to Chiarello. Researchers discover knowledge, educators share and guide others in ways to use it, and service providers translate the knowledge into practice to promote the participation of children with disabilities and their families in their home and communities.
The approach Chiarello takes to her work is special and important, and she’s making sure future physical therapists discover and utilize knowledge to help children and families have meaningful lives. “To me, it's through the process of mentoring others and disseminating knowledge, I believe, that I can have a broader and more sustainable impact to foster inclusive environments,” Chiarello concluded.