UAMS Northwest Names Physical Therapy Skills Lab

By ChaseYavondaC

The name is in celebration of the foundation’s $100,000 pledge toward the physical therapy three-year doctoral program, which will welcome its first class of 24 students in August. The Schmieding Neurological Skills Lab will be used to teach physical therapy students skills for evaluating and treating those with neurological disorders including developmental disorders, spinal cord injuries, stroke and conditions such as Alzheimer’s or Parkinson’s disease.

The physical therapy program, part of the UAMS College of Health Professions, is the first UAMS program housed solely on the Fayetteville campus. The lab, which is nearing completion, is one of five teaching labs to be used by the program. Program resources include the recently opened Outpatient Therapy Clinic on campus where students will gain therapy experience with patients under supervision of faculty and clinic staff.

“The Schmieding Neurological Skills Lab is critical to creating an academic program that will expand opportunities for careers in physical therapy and increase access to comprehensive rehabilitation therapy in the state and region,” said Peter Kohler, M.D., vice chancellor for UAMS Northwest. “We are grateful for the strong support shown us by the Schmieding Foundation and others who have helped us assemble the resources needed to establish our physical therapy program.”

The Springdale-based Schmieding Foundation has been a strong supporter and partner with UAMS. In 1998, the Schmieding Foundation donated $15 million to UAMS to establish and construct the UAMS Schmieding Center for Senior Health and Education in Springdale. A 2009 gift from the Donald W. Reynolds Foundation to the Arkansas Aging Initiative of UAMS allowed expansion of the successful Schmieding Home Caregiver Training Program in Little Rock and seven sites around the state.

“Access to comprehensive rehabilitation services is a way to help aging Arkansans extend health and quality of life, so we are proud to support UAMS Northwest in its efforts to build a high-quality physical therapy program here,” said Gilda Underwood, president of The Schmieding Foundation.

John Jefferson, Ph.D., chair and associate professor for the Department of Physical Therapy in the UAMS College of Health Professions, said the skills lab will include the latest neurological rehabilitation equipment for assessment and treatment of patients of all ages.

“When completed, this lab will be equipped to practice neurological rehabilitation across the lifespan — from newborn to the elderly,” Jefferson said. “It is supported by adjacent physical therapy research labs and our comprehensive rehabilitation therapy clinic.

“Our students will have access to patients with neurological disorders and the faculty will be equipped to conduct research in neurological rehabilitation to improve quality of life and health.”

Additional teaching labs will focus on orthopedic, cardiovascular and other conditions that require physical therapy.

In a 2013 needs assessment conducted by UAMS, nearly 90 percent of clinics, hospitals, nursing homes and other facilities in Northwest Arkansas agreed there was a need for a physical therapy education program in the area. The physical therapy program also could lay the foundation for an occupational therapy program further expanding the range of services for older adults through UAMS Northwest.

UAMS is the state's only health sciences university, with colleges of Medicine, Nursing, Pharmacy, Health Professions and Public Health; a graduate school; a hospital; a main campus in Little Rock; a Northwest Arkansas regional campus in Fayetteville; a statewide network of regional campuses; and seven institutes: the Winthrop P. Rockefeller Cancer Institute, Jackson T. Stephens Spine & Neurosciences Institute, Harvey & Bernice Jones Eye Institute, Psychiatric Research Institute, Donald W. Reynolds Institute on Aging, Translational Research Institute and Institute for Digital Health & Innovation. UAMS includes UAMS Health, a statewide health system that encompasses all of UAMS' clinical enterprise. UAMS is the only adult Level 1 trauma center in the state. UAMS has 3,275 students, 890 medical residents and fellows, and five dental residents. It is the state's largest public employer with more than 12,000 employees, including 1,200 physicians who provide care to patients at UAMS, its regional campuses, Arkansas Children's, the VA Medical Center and Baptist Health. Visit or Find us on Facebook, X (formerly Twitter), YouTube or Instagram.