Academic Catalog

Department of Physical Therapy

Laura Z. Gras, Professor, Department Chairperson, and Program Director

Barbara C. Belyea, Clinical Professor, Graduate Chairperson, and Associate Department Chairperson

The mission of Ithaca College's Department of Physical Therapy is to graduate physical therapists prepared for autonomous practice who provide compassionate, evidence-based, ethical, legal and culturally competent care to maximize the function, health and wellness of their patients, clients, and society. Our program promotes American Physical Therapy Association Core Values and prepares graduates to become life-long learners.

The Department of Physical Therapy offers a six-year, dual-degree program in clinical health studies/physical therapy. Students receive a B.S. degree in clinical health studies after four years of study and a doctor of physical therapy degree (D.P.T.) after two years of graduate study. Students must complete the D.P.T. degree to be eligible for physical therapy licensure. Students spend the summer semester following the junior year in a 10-week concentrated study of human anatomy. Students gain practical experience through full-time clinical education courses, totaling 30 weeks, at sites throughout the United States. The program is accredited by the Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education and is approved by the New York State Education Department.

Special Academic Status Policy for Clinical Health Studies and Doctor of Physical Therapy Majors

I. Curricular Requirements

A. Order and Sequence of Completion of Required Courses

  • Courses must be satisfactorily completed in the order and timeframe specified in the D.P.T. curriculum made available to each student unless permission to deviate from the sequence or time frame has been approved by the department faculty.
  • Students enrolled in the Bachelor of Science Clinical Health Studies program must complete all degree requirements within five years of beginning the program.
  • Transfer students who are accepted into the D.P.T. program must satisfactorily complete all courses in the professional phase of the Clinical Health Studies/Physical Therapy program in the order and timeframe specified for the D.P.T. cohort which they are entering. In addition, transfer students admitted to the D.P.T. program may be required to satisfactorily complete additional courses that may be specified on a case-by-case basis by the Department’s Transfer Coordinator in order to satisfy requirements normally met by completion of the pre-professional phase (years 1-3) of the Clinical Health Studies curriculum.

B. Completion of a Minor or Second Major

To fulfill degree requirements, students enrolled in the Clinical Health Studies program must complete a minor in a field of their choice or a second major by the end of the spring semester of the professional year 1.

C. Program Acceleration

At times, students in the Clinical Health Studies degree program may enter the program with a substantial number of credits derived from Advanced Placement (AP), International Baccalaureate (IB), College level Examination Program (CLEP) coursework, or courses completed at other colleges or universities that are credited toward the Clinical Health Studies degree requirements. Such students may be able to complete the requirements within the first 2 academic years of the degree program as opposed to the normal three academic years. If such is the case, a student may apply for program acceleration which, if approved, would move the student from their current class to the next class or cohort. To apply for program acceleration: 

  1. the student completes and submits an acceleration application to the academic advisor who notes a recommendation (approve/deny) with reasons;
  2. the advisor forwards the application with recommendation to the Chair; and
  3. the Chair reviews the application, approves/denies the request and notifies the student regarding the decision.

II. Student Functional Performance Requirements

Physical therapists must have the physical and mental capacity to safely and effectively evaluate and manage the individuals they serve. A document titled “Essential Functions for Physical Therapy Practice” describes in detail the emotional, communication, cognitive, sensory/motor, and social-behavioral functions a student should be able to perform in order to practice physical therapy. Students are provided with a printed copy of the essential functions document during pre-professional year 1 and are asked to acknowledge by signature receipt of the document. In addition, for pre-professional year 1 students, the essential functions are discussed in required academic coursework during their first academic year in residence. For students transferring into the program, the essential function document will be provided to them upon entrance into the program. All students will be advised to discuss the essential function document with their academic advisor. For all students, the document is also available on the Physical Therapy Department student Sakai site. Students with documented disability will not be precluded from participating in the program; however, such students will need to be able to perform all functions with reasonable accommodation.

III. Policies and Procedures for Academic Performance

The following sections describe those policies and procedures related to academic status and define categories of academic performance. Criteria for College or School academic status (warning, suspension, or dismissal) are specified in the Undergraduate Catalog. The criteria below apply to departmental academic status.

A. Student Academic Performance Review

Grade point averages will be reviewed upon completion of each academic semester (fall or spring excluding summer term). The faculty will review the records of students with academic deficiencies to determine their academic status. Academic warning, suspension, or dismissal notices will be sent to the student by the Chair of the Department of Physical Therapy. When necessary, these letters will specify criteria for reinstatement of good standing and time limitations.

1. Academic Status Categories

a. Good Academic StandingA student is in good academic standing if they have met all academic standards, have no documented concerns regarding professional behavior and are on track to complete program requirements in the scheduled timeframe.

b. Departmental Academic WarningPlacement of a student on academic warning indicates that a student has a serious deficiency that, if not corrected, will result in suspension or dismissal from the Clinical Health Studies/Physical Therapy program. Such students may be allowed to progress in the curriculum only under conditions specified and approved by the department faculty.  Remediation for removal of academic warning status will be determined by the department faculty. Notice of departmental academic warning will not be sent to the college Registrar.

An undergraduate student in the Clinical Health Studies/Physical Therapy major will be placed on academic warning within the Department of Physical Therapy for any of the following reasons:

  • receives less than a C- grade in any required course;
  • drops or withdraws from any required course;
  • does not complete the required courses in the normal timeframe and sequence of the cohort to which they are assigned;
  • fails to remove an incomplete grade by the date specified by the course instructor;
  • receives less than a 3.2 GPA during a semester taking required graduate (500 level or higher) courses;
  • has a documented pattern of unprofessional behavior; or
  • receive a grade of Unsatisfactory (U) from an ICE course

Undergraduate students on academic warning due to unsatisfactory performance in an integrated clinical experience (ICE) may progress with didactic coursework while completing a remediation and repeat ICE course. Removal of academic warning status will occur upon successful completion of the remediation plan AND successful completion of the repeat ICE course.

2. Dismissal from the Program

An undergraduate student is subject to dismissal from the Clinical Health Studies/Physical Therapy program for any of the following reasons:

  • receives less than a C- grade in two or more required courses in the same semester;
  • is a pre-professional year 1 or pre-professional year 2 student on academic warning who fails to successfully complete (with grades of C- or better) at least 12 credit hours in a semester;
  • has less than a 3.0 cumulative GPA at the end of pre-professional year 2;
  • has less than a 3.2 cumulative GPA at the end of the pre-professional year 3;
  • is a pre-professional year 3 student or professional year 1 student who has been on academic warning for any semester, and who receives less than a C- (or fails to remove a grade of I in the specified time period) in any required course;
  • is a professional year 1 student who receives less than a C- grade (or fails to remove a grade of I in the specified time) in any required course;
  • fails, drops, or withdraws from any two required courses;
  • withdraws from a required course while on academic warning;
  • has repeated documented instances of unprofessional conduct;
  • fails to successfully complete departmental remediation as prescribed by the faculty within the allotted time; or
  • receives an Unsatisfactory (U) in more than one ICE course

3. Suspension

An undergraduate student who is subject to dismissal from the program may, under extenuating circumstances, be granted a suspension from the program by the department faculty. A student who is suspended:

  • may not enroll in courses offered within the major;
  • may apply for a leave of absence from Ithaca College in accordance with College policy; or
  • may be reinstated upon satisfactory completion of conditions specified by the Department of Physical Therapy at the time of suspension.

4. Petition for Waiver of Departmental Academic Policy

Undergraduate students who have been placed on warning, suspended, or dismissed from the program according to policy may petition the faculty of the Department of Physical Therapy to waive Departmental academic policy. Information for filing a petition can be obtained from the Department office. Department faculty review petitions to waive academic policy and make a recommendation to the Dean of HSHP, who renders a decision. Students have the right to appeal an academic decision with the Office of the Provost.

5. Eligibility for Admission into the Doctor of Physical Therapy Program

To be eligible for admission to the Doctor of Physical Therapy Program, undergraduate students must have completed the B.S. degree in Clinical Health Studies with a GPA of 3.2 or higher, AND a GPA of 3.2 or higher for all professional year 1 PTBS 50000 level courses.

PTBS 10100 Introduction to Physical Therapy (NLA)

An overview of the history of the physical therapy profession. Orientation to the responsibilities of a physical therapist and to the practice of physical therapy in a variety of environments, including musculoskeletal, neuromuscular, cardiovascular and pulmonary, integumentary, pediatric, and older adults will be discussed. Information regarding the representative professional association, clinical specialization, residency and fellowship will presented. (F,S,Y)
1 Credit

PTBS 10200 Introduction to the Profession of Physical Therapy (NLA)

Orientation to the responsibilities and activities of physical therapists, the practice environments, representative professional association, and related professional literature. Experiential activities are included to enhance learning. (F or S,Y)
0.5 Credit

PTBS 20100 Introduction to the Practice of Physical Therapy (LA)

Orientation to the practice of physical therapy, including musculoskeletal, neuromuscular, cardiovascular and pulmonary, integumentary, pediatric, and older adults. Prerequisites: PTBS 10200. (F or S,Y)
0.5 Credit

PTBS 31300 Clinical Physiology (NLA)

The study of human physiology from a clinical perspective, addressing normal function in the primary physiological systems and how therapeutic interventions influence system functions. Introduces pathophysiological syndromes common to patients receiving therapy. Describes physiological responses in patients receiving specific physical or occupational therapy interventions. Prerequisites: One course in CHEM. Corequisite: BIOL 20600; open to clinical health studies and occupational science majors. (S,Y)
3 Credits

PTBS 31400 Pathology for Physical Therapists (NLA)

Examination of the components of the general processes of disease and injury, and some specific components of selected diseases likely to be encountered in physical therapy practice. General pathology topics described include: cell and tissue injury, inflammation, and the healing and repair process. Details on specific diseases include: musculoskeletal, cardiovascular, pulmonary, integument, and nerve systems. Emphasis will be placed on understanding the underlying mechanisms of structural and functional disruptions for adults, with secondary comparisons to pathology across the lifespan. This course provides background information necessary for subsequent physical therapy courses and patient treatments. Corequisites include BIOL 20600 and PTBS 31300. Prerequisites: PTBS 10100. (S,Y)
3 Credits

PTBS 39900-39919 Selected Topics in Physical Therapy

Clinical and professional topics of current interest to faculty and students. This course may be repeated for credit for different selected topics. Prerequisites: As appropriate to topics. Satisfactory/D/Failure only. 0.(IRR)
0.5-3 Credits

PTBS 40000 Mobility Training (NLA)

An introduction to patient/client care techniques related to mobility training, including bed mobility, transfer training, gait training with a variety of assistive devices, and wheelchair mobility. Students are familiarized with the initial steps in the patient-therapist relationship including professional behaviors and oral communication. Review of cardiovascular systems is also included. The emphasis throughout the course is to develop the skills necessary to ensure the safety of both the patient/client and the student in a clinical environment. Prerequisite: PTBS 10100, junior standing, limited to Clinical Health Studies majors. (S,Y)
1 Credit

PTBS 40100 Professional Development I (NLA)

Introduction to professionalism including professional and ethical behavior, as well as our professional organization. Instruction to develop effective listening skills. Preparation to teach in a variety of settings and formats for academic, clinical, and professional purposes. Instruction will include teaching/learning theories and styles, ability to adapt teaching for a variety of audiences, domains of learning, instructional objectives, teaching methods, instructional technology, and feedback. Prerequisites: PTBS 10100, junior standing, limited to Clinical Health Studies majors. (S)
1 Credit

PTBS 49900-49903 Independent Study (NLA)

This course, which requires a faculty sponsor, allows students to complete an in-depth study or project in an area of their interest related to physical therapy. Includes a final presentation. Prerequisites: Permission of faculty sponsor, academic adviser, department chair, and dean. May be repeated for a total of six credits. (F,S,Y)
1-6 Credits

PTBS 50000 Documentation for Physical Therapy (NLA)

Introduction to written documentation of physical therapy services using the APTA Patient/Client Management Model and the International Classification of Functioning, Disability and Health Model. Topics include written documentation of initial examinations, progress notes, and discharges; legal guildelines; medical terminology; and electronic health record. Prerequisite: PTBS 40000. (Su,Y)
1 Credit

PTBS 50100 Human Anatomy (NLA)

Human Anatomy is the study of the gross anatomical components of the human body through the use of lecture and cadaver dissection. Emphasis is placed on the musculoskeletal and neurovascular systems found in the extremities, trunk, chest, and abdominal walls, and in the head and neck. Prerequisites: PTBS 31400. (U,Y)
6 Credits

PTBS 50200 Musculoskeletal I (NLA)

Application of the patient/client management model with emphasis on examination, evaluation, and diagnosis of musculoskeletal problems of the extremities. Emphasis is placed on the following skills: patient history, joint integrity and mobility, goniometry, muscle performance testing, flexibility testing, ligament testing, special orthopedic tests, and posture as it relates to the extremities. Prerequisites: PHYS 10100, PHYS 10200, and PTBS 50100. (F,Y)
4 Credits

PTBS 50300 Soft Tissue Examination and Interventions (NLA)

This lecture and laboratory course examines various methods of soft tissue examination and intervention. It is designed to expose the student to a broad spectrum of techniques, while teaching the skills of the most commonly used methods. Some of the techniques are more scientifically evidence based than others. The course will emphasizes critical assessment and foster the necessity for research-based analysis. The course is also designed to develop the student's palpation skills, including the examination and evaluation of soft tissue dysfunction. Prerequisites: PTBS 50100. (F,Y)
2 Credits

PTBS 50400 Applied Biomechanics (LA)

Application of mechanical principles to human movement with particular attention to the effect of forces in producing normal movement. Students are required to apply their knowledge of anatomy to understanding individual joint function, as well as the integrated function of several joints during complex activities such as the normal gait. Prerequisites: PHYS 10100, PHYS 10200, and PTBS 50100. (F,Y)
3 Credits

PTBS 50500 Professional Development II (NLA)

Introduction to the Practice Act, roles of paraprofessionals, professional and ethical behavior, and effective communication styles. Instruction in clinical education teams, models of clinical education, and assessment of clinical performance. Prerequisites: PTBS 40100. (F,Y)
Attributes: CP
1 Credit

PTBS 50600 Medical Screening I (NLA)

This course covers the principles and interpretation of diagnostic testing. Students will become competent in understanding radiologic interpretations of X-rays, Computed Tomography, MRI, Nuclear, ultrasound imaging and nerve conduction testing. Radiographic anatomy, densities, views, and structural analysis are taught using digital imaging. Patient cases will be used to compare patho-structural diagnosis with actual symptoms and clinical presentation. Prerequisites: PTBS 31400. (F,Y)
1 Credit

PTBS 50700 Integrated Clinical Experience I (NLA)

This first clinical education experience provides students with an opportunity to work with patients under the supervision of a faculty member. Students will apply knowledge and skills and assume appropriate responsibilities in direct patient care. Pass/Fail only. Prerequisites: PTBS 40000, PTBS 50000. (F,Y,B)
1 Credit

PTBS 50800 Evidence Based Practice I (NLA)

An overview of how the research literature can guide clinical decision making and form the basis for contemporary physical therapist practice. Emphasis on how evidence is used to answer clinical questions that affect the examination process, evaluation procedures, and interventions commonly used by physical therapists. The historical background for evidence based practice will be examined at the start of this course, followed by an analysis of the fundamental components of evidence based practice. Contemporary issues in physical therapist practice will be used to illustrate various issues and topics in this course. Prerequisites: MATH 14400, MATH 14500, MATH 15500, MATH 21600 or PSYC 20700. (F,Y)
3 Credits

PTBS 50900 Integrated Clinical Experience II (NLA)

This second clinical education experience provides students with an opportunity to work with patients under the supervision of a faculty member in a diverse experience. Students will apply knowledge and skills and assume appropriate responsibilities in direct patient care. Pass/Fail only. Prerequisites: PTBS 50700. (S,Y,B)
1 Credit

PTBS 51000 Joint Mobilization (NLA)

Lecture and laboratory course that provides an evidence based manual therapy approach toward evaluation and management of musculoskeletal conditions using joint mobilization. Emphasis will be on enhancing the student's clinical reasoning and manual therapy skills. Prerequisites: PTBS 50200 and PTBS 50300. (S,Y)
2 Credits

PTBS 51002 Human Anatomy

Study of the gross anatomical components of the human body through the use of lecture and cadaver dissection. Emphasis is placed on the musculoskeletal and neurovascular systems found in the extremities, trunk, chest, and abdominal walls, and in the head and neck. Prerequisites: BIOL-20600. (Sum,Y)
6 Credits

PTBS 51100 Therapeutic Exercise (NLA)

A comprehensive analysis of the scientific principles of exercise commonly used in physical therapy practice. Specific exercise programs will be discussed, as well as adaptations of tissue to activity and immobilization. Prerequisites: PTBS 40200, PTBS 50200, and PTBS 50400. (S,Y)
3 Credits

PTBS 51103 Pathology for Physical Therapists (LA)

Examination of the components of general disease and injury processes and specific components of selected diseases likely to be encountered in physical therapy practice. General pathology topics described include cell and tissue injury, inflammation, and the healing and repair process. Specific focus on diseases of the musculoskeletal, cardiovascular, pulmonary, integumentary, and nerve systems. Emphasis is placed on understanding the underlying mechanisms of structural and functional disruptions for adults, with secondary comparisons to pathology across the life span. This course provides background information necessary for performing differential diagnosis and patient treatments. Prerequisites: PTBS 51002; PTBS 31300. (S,Y)
3 Credits

PTBS 51200 Acute Care (NLA)

This course will provide students with the knowledge related to and skills required in the acute care setting. Students will develop competency in acute care evaluations, interventions, and discharge planning. Both didactic and laboratory activities will be used to integrate curricular content to address the complex patient and dynamic environment encountered in acute care. Prerequisites: PTBS 40000. (F,Y)
2 Credits

PTBS 51300 Electrotherapeutic Modalities and Physical Agents (NLA)

The study of the biophysical, physiological, and clinical principles and procedures associated with the application of electromagnetic and acoustic energy in the clinical management of pathological conditions. Prerequisites: PHYS 10100, PHYS 10200, and PTBS 50100. (S,Y)
3 Credits

PTBS 51400 Medical Screening II (NLA)

Builds on the principles introduced in Medical Screening I allowing the students to integrate these principles into an efficient and effective patient examination. A systematic approach to evaluating a patient’s history and performing a systems review allows students to identify risk factors, red flags, visceral pain patterns, and constitutional symptoms that warrant a medical referral. Decisions for recommending lab tests or imaging are based on specific medical conditions and current appropriateness criteria. Prerequisites: PTBS 50600. (S,Y)
2 Credits

PTBS 51500 Health Care Systems (NLA)

This course familiarizes students with the basic constructs of the U.S. health care system, with emphasis on how system components influence patient referrals, delivery of care, reimbursement, and outcomes. Prerequisites: PTBS 40100. (S,B,Y)
1 Credit

PTBS 52102 Musculoskeletal Examination and Evaluation (NLA)

Introduction to the patient/client management model with emphasis on examination, evaluation, and diagnosis of musculoskeletal problems of the extremities. Emphasis is placed on the following skills: patient history, range of motion, goniometry, muscle performance testing, flexibility testing, ligament testing, special orthopedic tests, and posture as it relates to the extremities. Prerequisites: PHYS 10100; PHYS 10200; PTBS 51002. (F,Y)
3 Credits

PTBS 52203 Soft Tissue Palpation and Examination (NLA)

This lecture and laboratory course examines various methods of soft tissue examination and intervention. It covers a broad spectrum of techniques while teaching the skills of the most commonly used methods. Some of the techniques are more scientifically evidence-based than others. The course emphasizes critical assessment and the need for research-based analysis. It develops palpation skills, including the examination and evaluation of soft tissue dysfunction. Prerequisite: PTBS 51002. Corequisites: PTBS 52102; PTBS 53702. (F,Y).
2 Credits

PTBS 52304 Peripheral Joint Mobilization (NLA)

Lecture and laboratory course preparing students to incorporate passive mobility testing into the patient/client examination. Students also learn to use passive joint mobilization interventions for patient/client with peripheral joint pathologies. Prerequisites: PTBS 52102; PTBS 52203. (S,Y)
1.5 Credits

PTBS 52405 Therapeutic Exercise (NLA)

A comprehensive analysis of the scientific principles of exercise commonly used in physical therapy practice. Specific exercise programs address muscle performance, endurance, mobility, and balance impairments. Adaptations of tissue on activity and immobilization are also discussed. Prerequisites: PTBS 31300; PTBS 52102; PTBS 53702 (S,Y)
3 Credits

PTBS 53101 Electrotherapeutic Modalities and Physical Agents (NLA)

The study of the biophysical, physiological, and clinical principles and procedures associated with the application of electromagnetic and acoustic energy in the prevention and treatment of pathological conditions. Prerequisites: PHYS 10100; PHYS 10200; PTBS 51002. (S,Y)
4 Credits

PTBS 53702 Applied Biomechanics (LA)

Application of mechanical principles to human movement. Particular attention to the effect of forces in producing normal movement. Students are required to apply their knowledge of anatomy to understanding individual joint function, as well as the integrated function of several joints during complex activities such as the normal gait. Prerequisites: PHYS 10100; PHYS 10200; PTBS 51002. (F,Y)
Attributes: NS
3 Credits

PTBS 54001 Professional Development I (NLA)

Description of physical therapy as a profession in the United States, including history, professional organization, roles of the physical therapist and related personnel, and scope of practice. Prerequisites: Senior standing. (F,Y)
.5 Credit

PTBS 54102 Preclinical Conference I (NLA)

Series of sessions to explain clinical education policies and procedures and choose sites for clinical affiliations. Prerequisites: Senior standing; clinical health studies major. Pass/fail only. (Su,Y)
0 Credit

PTBS 54203 Professional Development II (NLA)

Introduction to the Practice Act, Code of Ethics, roles of paraprofessionals, professional and ethical behavior, and effective communication styles. Instruction in clinical education teams, models of clinical education, and assessment of clinical performance. Corequisite: PTBS 55501. Prerequisites: PTBS 54001. (S,Y)
Attributes: CP
1 Credit

PTBS 55501 Teaching and Learning in the Clinical Setting (NLA)

Preparation to teach in a variety of settings and formats for academic, clinical, and professional purposes. Content is applicable to community presentations, group in-services, and presentations, as well as patient/family and other individualized teaching. Includes teaching/learning theories and styles, impact of age, culture, environment, and motivation, domains of learning, instructional objectives, teaching methods, and instructional technology. Evaluation, feedback, and outcome measurements are included. (S,Y)
1 Credit

PTBS 55602 Introduction to Health Care Systems (NLA)

Constructs of the U.S. health care system, with emphasis on how parts of the system influence patient referrals, delivery of care, and reimbursement. The course focuses on the health care system's influence on rehabilitation services with emphasis on allied health. Prerequisites: PTBS 54001. (S,Y)
1 Credit

PTBS 56800 Research II: Evidence-Based Practice II

Focuses on how clinicians can evaluate, integrate, and apply research to guide clinical decision making in contemporary physical therapist practice. This course builds on and applies principles introduced to PTBS 56701 (Research I: Evidence-Based Practice I), and helps students become proficient in accessing and critically reviewing the literature to answer clinical questions. Students will evaluate and categorize specific articles that illustrate various types and levels of evidence. Students explore specific clinical questions, access the scientific literature using computer databases, and plan interventions based on strength of the available evidence. This course will prepare the student to enter the Research Seminar series in their final professional year. Prerequisites: PTBS 56701.
2 Credits

PTBS 59000-59025 Selected Topics in Physical Therapy (NLA)

Clinical and professional topics of current interest to faculty and students. This course may be repeated for credit for different selected topics. Pre-requisites: As appropriate to topics. Pass/fail only .(IRR)
0-3 Credits

PTBS 59800 Honors Seminar in Physical Therapy (NLA)

For students in the honors program. Research proposals completed in PTBS 59900 are presented and critiqued. In addition, examples of good and poor published journal articles are discussed and analyzed. Prerequisites: PTBS 59900. Note: All undergraduates taking this course for graduate credit must satisfy the conditions listed under "Course Levels." (S,Y)
1 Credit

PTBS 59900 Honors Project (NLA)

For the exceptional student who wishes to pursue graduate research. Results will be summarized in a research proposal, which is a preliminary step toward a graduate thesis. Prerequisites: PTBS 41000; permission of department chair. Note: All undergraduates taking this course for graduate credit must satisfy the conditions listed under "Course Levels." (F,Y)
3 Credits