Evolution is a natural part of all publications, especially those dedicated to sharing the latest research. As the Section on Women’s Health celebrates its 40th anniversary, change is underway for SOWH’s popular Journal for Women’s Health Physical Therapy.
Leading an effort to update the journal’s long-term strategy is new Editor-in-Chief Cynthia Chiarello, PT, Ph.D., MS, an assistant professor of clinical rehabilitation and regenerative medicine at Columbia University Medical Center Program in Physical Therapy. She is supported in this work by an impressive team of four women’s men’s, and pelvic health physical therapists who are generously volunteering as associate editors.
Here, Chiarello talks about the transformation process and the status of evidence-based research in this specialized area of physical therapy.
SOWH: What are some of the challenges for PT researchers today?
Chiarello: The biggest barriers to PT research are the interrelated issues of funding, time and qualified researchers. There is a tremendous need for greater funding of the type of projects needed to advance the profession of physical therapy.
Many physical therapists pursue research in addition to a full academic workload or a full clinical schedule. Accomplishing meaningful research requires the dedicated efforts of qualified researchers with the necessary amount of time and personnel to achieve the goals of the project.
As an academic at a prestigious university, you help prepare the next generation of physical therapists by arming them with the latest knowledge to care for their patients’ diverse needs. What trends or special areas of emphasis do you see emerging from America’s PT schools? Are they adjusting course content and skill competencies to reflect changing demographics, higher numbers of complex cases, a volatile health care system, etc.?
I am continually amazed at the transformation of PT students from their entry into the curriculum to graduation as they become capable, independent clinicians we are proud to have as colleagues.
All entry-level PT curriculums are jam-packed with courses for basic and clinical science, as well as professional socialization and clinical education. With our packed curricula, not much room is available for additional fields of study or extras.
With the demanding accreditation requirements of physical therapist education, it is remarkable that each program is able to place its own special signature on its graduates. I do see increasing attention to intra-professional education and service learning, and greater emphasis on clinical reasoning.
Why did you become involved in women’s and men’s health physical therapy?
As an orthopedic clinician and researcher, I have always been interested in low back pain and lumbo-pelvic dysfunction. Pelvic girdle pain during pregnancy and post-partum has been delineated as a specific classification facilitating diagnosis and research investigation.
Once it was known I was researching perinatal back pain, some of my graduate students brought issues of diastasis rectus abdominis to my attention. We then began a series of studies on this interesting musculoskeletal impairment.
Chiarello welcomes all submissions for the Journal for Women’s Health Physical Therapy, and author guidelines are here[LINK TO X] Also needed are manuscript reviewers. If you are interested, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.