Department of Physical Therapy to host Certified Exercise Expert for Aging Adults certification course

Beverly Mcneal
Dr. Beverly McNeal

Dr.  Beverly McNeal’s path to becoming a faculty member in The University of North Texas Health Science Center at Fort Worth’s Department of Physical Therapy began when she arrived on campus for training in 2022.

HSC hosted the American Physical Therapy Association Academy of Geriatrics’ Certified Exercise Expert for Aging Adults certification course. There, McNeal met HSC professor Dr. Myles Quiben who was a course instructor and past chair of the DPT program.

“When I started seeing the CEEAA course being offered and looked into it, I realized this is a pretty big deal,” McNeal said. “If you’re in academics, you need to have certain credentials, and I felt I needed it to be able to confirm that I’m teaching current evidence, and I am doing a good job teaching.”

Over the course of three weekends, starting on April 27-28, the Department of Physical Therapy will once again host the APTA Geriatrics’ CEEAA certification courses. It will mark the fourth time the university has hosted. The credential is considered one of the most prestigious in the field. The three-weekend course — open to licensed physical therapists and physical therapist assistants — will teach PTs to better incorporate the most up-to-date evidence into practice. APTA Geriatrics is the second largest of the APTA with more than 7,000 members.

Dr. Q
Dr. Quiben

Quiben, who was recently elected as vice president of the APTA’s Geriatrics board of directors, will once again be one of the course’s instructors. She said the training will give learners an even greater, nuanced understanding of many of the lessons they learned in PT school.

“The CEEAA credential really gives them an edge because we really focus on geriatric care and exercise,” she said. “If I were a patient, I’d like somebody who has that credential. It’s a post-professional credential. You don’t have to get it, but it means that your therapist studied more. It means that they’re more dedicated and that they did extra study.”

The need for this type of training has never been more urgent in health care, as people are living longer than ever. Older people are also a notoriously diverse populations, so learning how to adapt to a patient’s circumstances can be key to helping them.

Aging causes muscles to lose mass, bone density to thin and joints to stiffen — affecting balance, coordination, and strength. At the same time, hormonal shifts and persistent low-level inflammation can set the stage for chronic diseases such as cancer, cardiovascular disease and diabetes.

These changes start during a person’s 30s and continue declining into midlife. Up to 25% of a person’s peak mass can be gone by the time they are 60. Exercise can stall muscle loss, cognitive decline and fatigue, particularly if the person planning the exercise regimen is well-trained.

The faculty for the credential reads like an all-star team of well-known PTs, including Quiben.

“That’s the other big appeal for clinicians is when you see the list of faculty,” McNeal said. “‘OK, these are like people who know what they’re talking about’” versus lots of continuing ed out there. They’re very selective about who gets to be on the faculty of this. It’s all the people who’ve produced the research that they’re talking about.”

The instructors include plenty of academics, but also a wide range of people all along the PT career spectrum.

“We’re authors,” Quiben said. “We teach in different universities. We’re clinicians. We teach for continuing ed programs. I think one of the benefits of doing the onsite classes is you get perspectives from different educators, researchers, and clinicians.”

At the conclusion of the curriculum, each participant must pass a practical test to earn the accreditation, in addition to written exams. Participants earn continuing education credits, a national credential and new lens when developing challenging exercise programs for older adults.

“The department is once again excited to host the American Physical Therapy Association Academy of Geriatrics’ Certified Exercise Expert for Aging Adults certification course here in Fort Worth,” said Dr. Michael Furtado, chair of SHP’s Department of Physical Therapy. “This course provides an opportunity for physical therapists to demonstrate expert clinical decision-making skills in designing and applying an effective examination and exercise prescription for the aging adult. The physical therapist can then put their expertise into practice in different settings and communities across the country.

“I truly believe this course helps us live the mission, ‘creating solutions for a healthier community,’ and I am looking forward to hearing about the success of this cohort, which will learn in our facilities from our faculty,” he continued.

To register, follow this link.

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