Academic Research takes Campbell’s physical therapy program to the next level

DPT students working with walker

Campbell’s mission is to graduate doctors of physical therapy who deliver compassionate, patient-centered care from a service-oriented, Christian guided view, with a special emphasis on rural healthcare environments.

With a rising trend for new research in the fields of exercise science and physical therapy, Campbell faculty, alumni and students are raising the bar. 

Jennifer Bunn is an exercise physiologist and the director of research for Campbell University’s Doctor of Physical Therapy program. She teaches and mentors professional and undergraduate students. According to Bunn, there is a growing trend for research within the field of physical therapy, specifically the need for more contemporary information that can be utilized within the clinic.

Bunn is passionate about research and recently presented on wearable devices at Southeast American College of Sports Medicine. She enjoys evaluating the accuracy of wearable devices such as Fitbits and Garmins and is able to employ this research practically in conjunction with Campbell’s lacrosse team.

Bunn and her colleagues have been working with the Campbell lacrosse team for two years. They spend time monitoring the team, assessing the athletes’ wellbeing, and recording metrics such as average session heart rate, number of sprint efforts, and total session distance. While the research is ongoing, Bunn said that she and her team are learning quite a bit and have been able to publish one paper, conduct five presentations, and have four manuscripts underway.

Elizabeth Wells (’18 DPT) has worked with Bunn from her undergraduate through her doctorate training. She has several peer-reviewed manuscripts, four of which she is the first author. Wells’ research is quite extensive, and she shared how her work is helping contribute to “the body of growing evidence for specific topics that are still not entirely understood.”

Wells has focused her research on topics within the field of exercise physiology, blood flow restriction in women, wearable devices, and even the impact of types of breakfast on body composition. With most research being conducted by clinicians, Wells believes that her perspective as a physical therapist is unique, and that her contributions to the field are beneficial.

When asked how she sees research impacting the field of physical therapy, Wells responded by stating, “Research has provided insight to the effectiveness and reliability of the impact of treatments and allowed physical therapists to better target their patient’s disorder.” Campbell encourages students to think outside of the box. The expansion of research allows physical therapists to create new and individualized treatments for patients instead of utilizing standard treatments.

Similar to other health professionals, physical therapists rely on research as a means to supplement their education and work experience. Research offers providers a way to better assess risk factors, look at disease trends and even create successful treatment plans. With such a diverse population of people and range of interests, Campbell offers a number of ways to contribute to the growing need for new research within the field of physical therapy.  

Brynn Hudgins, who recently graduated with a degree in exercise science, won first place at the Campbell University 2019 Academic Symposium.
Kathryn Alphin, graduated in May 2019 with a degree in exercise science, presented research at the 2019 National Conference on Undergraduate Research (NCUR).