Western University of Health Sciences College of Allied Health Professions Western University of Health Sciences
College of Allied Health Professions

Clinical Trials & Interprofessional Research – FAQ

Previous/on-going interprofessional research studies with faculty in CAHP include:


Physical Therapy and Optometry – low vision and fall risk

Visual impairment is common in the general population. The low vision population has a high incidence of perceived inactivity and reports frequent falls. Low vision is a broad term that encompasses many different diagnoses and levels of vision loss. This study defines subcategories of visual impairment that are correlated with increased fall risk. Activity and balance among the visually impaired is directly measured and results correlated with optometric measurements. The Four Square Step Test was selected as a potentially sensitive test to distinguish visually impaired fallers from non-fallers.


Aims of the study include:

1. Discriminate between low vision subjects at risk for falls from those not at risk using the Four Square Step Test.

2. Determine feasibility of using the Four Square Step Test during examination of low vision clients and correlate findings with optometric measurements.

3. Correlate Four Square Step Test findings with other measures of function including gait velocity and the Sensory Organization Test.

4. Correlate Four Square Step Test findings with retrospective and prospective self- report of balance impairment and falls.


Vicky Graham, PT, DPT, OCS, NCS (PI) & Kierstyn Napier-Dovorany, OD, FAAO


Physical Therapy, Osteopathic Medicine, Optometry – Vertigo

Dizziness is a frequent complaint among all outpatient visits and is one of the most common complaints among elderly individuals. As a symptom, it describes a variety of sensations, including a feeling of imbalance or being unsteady. Vertigo affects 20%-30% of the general population, and the estimated life-time prevalence for Benign Paroxymal Positional Vertigo (BPPV) is 2.4%. It can be considerably incapacitating for individuals and impacts both productivity and quality of life; approximately 86% of persons with vertigo experience an interruption of daily activities and lost days at work, and older persons with vertigo have a greater incidence of falls and depression. The diagnosis and management of vertigo can also be challenging for physicians, and health care costs associated with the diagnosis of BPPV alone approach $2 billion per year.


Decreasing the severity of vertigo is important from a clinical perspective since it leads to improved function and quality of life. This improvement in function and quality of life has been demonstrated by a number of other studies that used outcome measures, such as the Dizziness Handicap Inventory and computerized dynamic posturography, to examine the effects of vestibular rehabilitation in individuals with vestibular dysfunction and vertigo. Therefore, an intervention such as Osteopathic Manipulative Treatment (OMT) can potentially result in reduced vertigo-related disability and improved function and quality of life.


The purpose of this study is to examine the efficacy of OMT in the treatment of individuals with vertigo, alone and in combination with Vestibular Rehabilitation Therapy (VRT). Because of the health care costs associated with vertigo, the cost effectiveness of OMT and VRT will also be examined. To date, there have been no studies examining the efficacy of OMT in individuals with vertigo. The frequency and severity of somatic dysfunction in individuals with vertigo and how OMT and VRT may impact their visual function will also be examined since these topics have not been researched.


The objectives of this study are the following:

1) To measure the response to osteopathic manipulative treatment (OMT) and/or vestibular rehabilitation therapy (VRT) by using a validated symptom inventory, the Dizziness Handicap Inventory, and Computerized Dynamic Posturography in participants experiencing dizziness or with a diagnosis of vertigo.

2) To determine if the degree of somatic dysfunction correlates with the degree of imbalance in participants experiencing dizziness or with a diagnosis of vertigo.

3) To compare the effectiveness of OMT to VRT, head to head and synergistically, and to no treatment, in participants with dizziness or with a diagnosis of vertigo.

4) To assess the effect of OMT and/or VRT aimed at improving visual function disorders related to dizziness or a diagnosis of vertigo.

5) To assess the cost-effectiveness of OMT to VRT, head to head and synergistically, and to no treatment, in participants with dizziness or with a diagnosis of vertigo.


Marcel Fraix, DO, FAAPMR (PI); Micahel Seffinger, DO; Donna Redman-Bentley, PT, PhD; Vicky Graham, PT, DPT, OCS, NCS, Valerie Wren, OD; Mary Hudson-McKinney, PT, MS, DPT, NCS; David Redding, DO; Ray Hruby, DO; Eric Hurwitz, DC, PhD


Study funded by American Osteopathic Association and Osteopathic Heritage Foundation, Marcel Fraix, DO, FAAPMR, (PI), $99,790 (2 years)


Physical Therapy, Veterinary Medicine – Empathy

The Medical Student Survey (MSATU) and the Jefferson Scale of Physician Empathy are two instruments that are currently being used to investigate attitudes toward the underserved and empathy, respectively, of students from the medical, pharmacy, physical therapy, and law professions. Leaders of the study have indicated that veterinary medical education is a desired component of this educational research. Past studies have demonstrated a decline in empathy and moral reasoning in both medical and veterinary students across the course of their curriculum. This study would allow further exploration of this phenomenon both within the medical professions and across professions. This is a longitudinal 4 year study of students matriculating into eight professional programs (Osteopathic Medicine, Physician Assistant, Physical Therapy, Nursing, Pharmacy, Dental Medicine, Optometry, and Podiatric Medicine) at Western University of Health Sciences. The research involves the administration of two survey instruments to students in these eight programs at three separate times throughout their curricula. Data collected allows for a case study analysis of each college/program and a comparison across the various professions being studied. Results can be used to enhance the area of service across all professions.


Suzie Kovacs, MSc (PI); Elizabeth P. Boynton, DVM; Georgeanne Vlad, PT, MA; Richard Sugerman, PhD