With New “Found Space,” Everyone Wins

Patients, students, faculty, and staff benefit as physical therapy program gets the architectural treatment

A renovation to enhance efficiency, flexibility, ease of movement, and functioning—as befits the top-ranked Program in Physical Therapy at the School of Medicine—is now in its last lap at 4444 Forest Park Avenue. To demonstrate just what the redesigned space will mean to patients, faculty, students and staff, Susan S. Deusinger, Ph.D., director of the physical therapy program, and her colleagues hosted an open house complete with ribbon-cutting on August 8.

“This extension and reconfiguration of our professional space was a vitally important response to our burgeoning growth,” explains Deusinger, professor of physical therapy and neurology. “We are tremendously grateful for this sign of University support for the Program in Physical Therapy and for the active involvement of Dean Larry J. Shapiro and the School of Medicine in seeing the visions of the program realized.

“The program had a succession of homes after its establishment in 1942,” Deusinger says. “When I joined the faculty in 1978, it had resided in the old Shriner’s building on McKinley and Euclid for more than 20 years. From there the Program moved to the East Building in 1984, and then relocated in the 4444 building in 1993.”

Deusinger credits Rick Schaefer, former director of design and construction, Facilities Management, with the idea for converting a portion of the lobby space into a more efficient and effective form. For the program’s 34 faculty, 22 staff, approximately 300 students, and 75 to 100 patients per day who are served by the Program, the renovation project, with its additional 1,500 square feet of space, enables the following:

  • An enlarged Program reception and admissions area Modified to support the administrative processes of its three doctoral curriculums, the combined space has more room for offices and areas in which to welcome and meet with visiting students, parents and colleagues.
  • Enhanced space for faculty and staff responsible for clinical internships and residencies Thanks to such additions as a strategically placed small conference room (shared with admissions), four faculty and two staff members can now even more effectively manage the curriculum’s four major internships for the students.
  • An expanded waiting and reception area for patients These areas will increase the comfort for patients seeking care through the Washington University Physical Therapy Clinics, which provide rehabilitative and preventive services throughout the day.
  • An added private treatment area and streamlined space for practitioners and staff in our faculty practice The spiraling number of patients seeking treatment for musculoskeletal disorders, women’s health problems, difficulties related to obesity, dance or sports injuries and more will be more comfortable and better served with this additional space.
  • Relocation of one of the Programs 11 research laboratories A major National Insitutes of Health-funded research program on lower-back pain, led Linda R. Van Dillen, Ph.D., associate professor of physical therapy, benefits from a better configuration of space in the Musculoskeletal Analysis Laboratory to conduct assessments and treatments of study participants.
  • A new entrance and staff space for the Human Biodynamics Laboratory Located just inside the exterior door to the building is the entrance to the laboratory shared by Robert H. Deusinger, Ph.D., associate professor of physical therapy, medicine, orthopaedic surgery, and biomedical engineering; and Dequan Zou, D.Sc., assistant professor of physical therapy, radiology and biomedical engineering. This enhancement increases overall laboratory efficiency and adds space for subjects to walk, run and perform a variety of sports-related movements and functional activities that are associated with biomechanics of anterior cruciate ligament knee injuries and osteoarthritis.

The Program in Physical therapy tied for No. 2 in the nation in U.S. News and World Report’s 2008 rankings of graduate and professional programs.