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ANPT Member Awards

The Academy is proud of our members' Academy and National contributions both to the profession and the patients we serve. We extend our heartfelt appreciation and admiration for the Academy of Neurologic Physical Therapy Award and national American Physical Therapy Award recipients. The nominations form for ANPT awards is open May 1 – August 1 each year.

2020 Academy of Neurologic Physical Therapy Award Recipients

The Academy of Neurologic Physical Therapy celebrates excellence in research, scholarship, clinical practice and service activities by honoring our members for their achievements and successes over the past years at the annual Academy of Neurologic Physical Therapy Business Meeting held at the Combined Sections Meeting, held in Denver, CO.

Service to the Academy

   Anna de Joya, PT, Dsc, NCS

Dr. Anna de Joya has demonstrated exemplary dedication and service to the Academy. She has been a member of the APTA since 1995. She served as co-chair of the first Knowledge Translation Task Force – the Traumatic Brain Injury EDGE group, Chair of the Practice committee, Course Content Coordinator of the ANPT Acute Stroke Course, and served on the Neurologic Outcome Measures CPG advisory panel.  Additionally she led the development of the first “Message from the Practice Committee.” After serving as Chair of the Practice committee she has continued to serve as a member of the Education subcommittee and contributed in the development of the Hot Topic Webinar Series as well as other educational series for CSM. Dr. de Joya's leadership has facilitated collaboration and teamwork amongst the groups that she participated in, and her contributions have directly led to numerous resources made available for members of the Academy that drive forward neurological physical therapy practice and our profession. For these reasons, it is with great honor that we award Dr. Anna de Joya with the 2020 ANPT Service to the Academy award.

Click here for a list of previous Service to the Academy Awardees 

Excellence in Neurologic Education

      Valerie Carter, PT, DPT, NCS, GCS

Valerie Carter is well-deserving of the award for Excellence in Neurologic Education. She excels in teaching as evidenced by her excellent student reviews and teaching methodology. She is also is considered an invaluable resource in her academic setting. In addition to her varied community service, she is the driving force for a neurologic pro bono clinic and runs an annual multi-day neurological “boot-camp” with students at Northern Arizona University. She has not only held these intensive 5 day clinics in Flagstaff, but also in St. Elizabeth, Jamaica for over 10 years. She participates in clinical research, has recently acquired grants for research in aquatic therapy, and has 7 peer-reviewed publications. She routinely provides educational sessions at the local, state, national and international levels regarding aspects of neurological rehabilitation, which is why we fully support her as this year’s recipient for the Excellence in Neurologic Education award.

Click here for a list of previous Excellence in Neurologic Education Awardees


Excellence in Neurologic Research

     Lee Dibble, PT, PhD, ATC

For many reasons, including the broad impact he has made in neurologic physical therapy since his first publication in 1997, Dr. Lee Dibble is the worthy recipient of the 2020 Excellence in Neurological Research Award. Dr. Dibble has published over 80 peer reviewed publications, has been cited nearly 2,000 times, and has an H-index of 24. Dr. Dibble is a faculty member of the Department of Physical Therapy at the University of Utah and has moved through the promotion ranks to his current appointment as Professor in the Department of Physical Therapy and Athletic Training. He has had a very successful research career investigating resistance exercise responses, movement control, and rehabilitation in individuals with mobility and balance disorders in the people with Parkinson Disease, Multiple Sclerosis, and Vestibular disorders. His work has been funded by the NIH, Michael J. Fox Foundation, Department of Defense, and the Multiple Sclerosis Society, among other agencies. Attesting to the quality of his work are the numerous honors he has been awarded including being the recipient of outstanding journal article from JNPT twice (2004, 2009) and the Chattanooga Outstanding Research Award from PTJ twice (2014, 2016). From the University of Utah College of Health, he received the New Investigator Research Award in 2008 and Senior Research Award in 2015. Dr. Dibble has also received the Distinguished Teaching Award from the University of Utah College of Health, the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Utah Physical Therapy Association, and the Impact for Parkinson Disease Award from the Utah Chapter of the American Parkinson Disease Association. We look forward to the many more contributions from Dr. Lee Dibble and are honored to present him with the Academy’s 2020 Excellence in Neurological Research Award.

Click here for a list of previous Excellence in Research Awardees

PT Clinical Excellence in Neurology

    Rachelle Studer-Byrnes, PT, DPT, NCS

This award is granted to an individual whom has made significant contributions through clinical experience and expertise to the clinic, their students, their peers, and the profession as a whole. Dr. Rachelle Studer-Byrnes contributions demonstrate the breadth of her experience and range from teaching students in the classroom, to involvement in Florida’s Physical Therapy Association, and additionally furthering our knowledge as neurologic therapists with her research. Dr. Studer-Byrnes has been described by her peers as having “incredible energy and compassion that she brings to each encounter” and how she “instills value for life-long learning and pursuit of excellence in each student and clinician she works with.” These and many other words have been used to describe Dr. Studer Byrnes and demonstrate not only her commitment to her role but also the extent of her influence. Furthermore, she has left an indelible mark in her program, through her involvement on tasks forces to develop her program including: Learning Over Grades, Integration and Consistency, and the University of Florida’s Department of Physical Therapy Curriculum.

Click here for a list of previous Clinical Excellence in Neurologic Physical Therapy Awardees


PTA Clinical Excellence in Neurology

   Amy Powell-Versteeg, PTA

Amy Powell-Versteeg is well-deserving of the award for PTA Clinical Excellence. Amy has provided evidence-based care to individuals with neurological dysfunction since 1998 and brings many novel and innovative tools and ideas for both PTs and PTAs. She is CI credentialed and provides challenging yet educational and engaging environments for students to learn. She also assists with courses and labs at the University of Utah’s DPT program. She continues to find new ways to challenge herself including attending continuing education, participating in research, attaining certifications, and participating in several pro-bono clinical opportunities with students. She is highly regarded by both students, and colleagues and this is why Amy Powell-Versteeg is absolutely deserving of this award.

Outstanding Advocacy in Neurology

   Patrick Kitzman, PT, PhD

The ANPT Awards Committee has selected Patrick Kitzman, PT, PhD, as the recipient for the 2020 Outstanding Advocacy in Neurologic Physical Therapy Award. Dr. Kitzman is an outstanding advocate for the neurologic physical therapy profession and neurologic populations. His interest is focused on supporting long-term health and quality of life for individuals with disabilities living in rural communities. Dr. Kitzman is an educator, researcher and Director of the Kentucky Appalachian Rural Rehabilitation (KARRN).  Through his leadership, passion, and tenacity KARRN as grown into a powerful community based network with numerous partners in academia, health care providers, and community members who are committed to the health and well-being of individuals with neurological dysfunction.  Working through KARRN, Dr. Kitzman has developed several community-based resources.  These resources include the Kentucky Care Coordination for Community Transitions program that supports the transitions of individuals affected by stroke and traumatic brain injury back to their rural community. Dr. Kitzman’s passion and commitment to advance the neurologic physical therapy field and improving quality of life for individuals living with neurological impairments is evident through his work.

Early Career Award


     Elizabeth Anderl, PT, DPT, NCS
     Nicole Blitz, PT, DPT, NCS
     Kaci Handlery, PT, DPT, NCS

Elizabeth Anderl:

Pushing the limits is exactly what Elizabeth “Libby” Anderl has demonstrated through her time spent at TIRR Memorial Herman progressing from a resident therapist to a staff therapist to a clinical instructor and then as an innovator. Libby has not only excelled in her current position but also as a member of the APTA as an item writer for the NCS exam and as a member of the Knowledge Translation Task Force. You’ll probably find Libby next presenting at a local, state, or national conference. 

Nicole Blitz:

Lifelong learning is a hallmark of Nicole Blitz’s approach to her career. She is a Johns Hopkins resident graduate and is always looking for ways to translate research into the clinical or vice versa through her monthly journal clubs and research project. She is also extremely involved in the APTA as an item writer for the NPTE and in the APTA as a member of the vestibular critical appraisal team and the historian committee.  Nicole is highly motivated and is crushing her professional goals one by one. 

Kaci Handlery:
Providing the best care for the patients in her region is Kaci Handlery’s main mission. She developed a group-based exercise class for individuals with neurologic disease and their caregivers and is currently working on expanding her knowledge of seating and positioning as this is an area of need for her local patients. Kaci is also highly involved in research studies involving task-oriented training and stroke with past published work and additional work currently being developed. 

Click here for a list of prior Early Career Award recipients

Anne Shumway-Cook Lectureship

The Anne Shumway-Cook lectureship is designed to acknowledge and honor an individual who has made a significant contribution to neurologic physical therapy research and practice. Recipients of the lectureship have distinguished themselves as an esteemed neurorehabilitation scientist whose work has influenced neurological physical therapist clinical practice. The lecture provides an opportunity for the honoree to share experiences related to the translation of neuroscience and neurorehabilitation research into neurological physical therapist clinical practice. 

       Margaret Schenkman, PT, PhD, FAPTAA Journey Through Time

Click here for list of previous Anne Shumway Cook recipients

Leahy & Barnes Promotion of Doctoral Studies (PODS) Awards

Patricia Leahy Award for outstanding PODS I application in post-professional studies within neurology:

  • Joseph Lesnak, PT, DPT. University of Iowa. Project Title: Effects of exercise on metabolomics in individuals with chronic pain. Mentor: Dr. Kathleen Sluka

Dr. Joseph Lesnak graduated with his DPT from Creighton University in 2018. He has spent the last year at the University of Iowa in the Rehabilitation Science Ph.D. program studying under Dr. Kathleen Sluka. His research is focused on chronic pain conditions, with a focus on fibromyalgia. Specifically, they are working on establishing biomarkers for the diagnosis of fibromyalgia as well as the impact of different modes of exercise on these biomarkers and symptoms.

Mary Lou Barnes Award for outstanding PODS II application in postprofessional studies within neurology:

  • Anne Palermo, DPT. University of Miami. Project Title: The Effect of Inspiratory Muscle Training on Breathing, Balance, and Blood Pressure in Individuals with Spinal Cord InjuryMentors: Dr. Lawrence Cahalin, PT, PhD, Dr. Mark Nash, PhD, and Dr. Neva Kirk-Sanchez, PT, PhD

Dr. Annie Palermo, PT, DPT is humbled to be this year’s Mary Lou Barns Award PODS II Scholarship honoree. For the last three years Annie has been working to investigate and present her findings on the connections between breathing, balance, and blood pressure in individuals with spinal cord injury as a PhD student at the University of Miami under the mentorship of Dr. Lawrence Cahalin, PT, PhD, Dr. Mark Nash, PhD, and Dr. Neva Kirk-Sanchez, PT, PhD.

In addition to the Barnes and Leahy Awards, in 2017 the Academy of Neurologic Physical Therapy funded 2 additional PODS II Awards through the Foundation for Physical Therapy Neurology Endowment Fund:

  • Jordyn Rice, PT, DPT. University of Miami. Project Title: Assessing Factors Related to Dual-Task Performance in Aging Adults. Mentor: Dr. Joyce Gomes-Osman, PT, PhD

Dr. Jordyn Rice, PT, DPT is honored to be awarded a PODS II scholarship in support of her dissertation studies at the University of Miami. Under the mentorship of Dr. Joyce Gomes-Osman, PT, PhD, Jordyn’s research at the Neuromotor Plasticity Laboratory utilizes non-invasive brain stimulation (NIBS) to characterize intracortical circuits relevant for synaptic plasticity in neurologically impaired and healthy individuals. Jordyn’s current research combines the use of NIBS, gait analysis, and neurocognitive testing to better understand the relationship between cognitive and motor performance in aging adults

  • Margaret French, PT, DPT. University of Delaware. Project Title: Factors Impacting Explicit Locomotor Learning Post Stroke. Mentor: Dr. Darcy Reisman

Dr. Margaret French is currently a 3rd year PhD Student at the University of Delaware working with Dr. Darcy Reisman. Her current research focuses on factors that impact locomotor learning in individuals after stroke, specifically the interaction between cognition and locomotor learning. Her long-term research goal is to better understand patient variability in order to facilitate the customization of rehabilitation interventions.

Click here for a list of previous Barnes and Leahy Promotion of Doctoral Studies Awardees


Click Here For a List of Academy Members Who Are APTA Award Recipients


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