Shefali Christopher wins national award at APTA Combined Sections Meeting

In Denver, Colorado, where 18,000 people gathered at the American Physical Therapy Association Combined Sections Meeting, Assistant Professor of Physical Therapy Education Shefali Christopher was awarded the Excellence in Education award by the Academy of Sports Physical Therapy.

Shefali Christopher, assistant professor of physical therapy education in the Elon School of Health Sciences, was recently honored with a national award at the American Physical Therapy Association’s Combined Sections Meeting, the organization’s largest event of the year.

Christopher received the Excellence in Education award from the Academy of Sports Physical Therapy during the APTA’s annual event in Denver, Colorado. This prestigious award recognized Christopher for the outstanding preparation, patient care for athletes, research and service that contribute to her exceptional teaching in the sports physical therapy field.

Christopher is a board-certified sports clinical specialist and a licensed athletic trainer who currently teaches evaluation and treatment of lower extremities in the Elon Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) program. She wrote the chapter on the lower leg and ankle in the Reiman 2016 “Orthopedic Clinical Evaluation” textbook that is used in classes at Elon. Christopher also teaches a six-week sports and orthopedic elective, a highly desirable course where students practice PT with sports patients, with one-on-one mentorship, and participate in sports PT experiences that range from working in the dugout of the Durham Bulls minor league baseball team to the wings of the Carolina Ballet stage.

Christopher is the founding director of Elon’s new post-graduate residency program, ElonRuns, a running-focused sports residency in collaboration with Division I athletics department physicians, coaches, athletic trainers and athletes. The ElonRuns residency encompasses an entire network of activities that support the residency – community running club, resources for runners, research on running-related topics, and a running PT faculty clinic that includes specialty tests, such as running analysis done by Christopher herself. Christopher and the sports resident see athletes at the Elon athletic training rooms where DPT students are welcome to observe and participate to their education level.

Christopher’s excellence in the classroom and in the ElonRuns program dovetails with her ongoing doctoral research. She has published two research manuscripts on post-partum running and is in the data collection phase of the final two studies that will start to fill an egregious gap in the literature regarding women runners. Above and beyond her required departmental duties, Christopher has supervised student research in baseball, softball, cross country, track and field, basketball and lacrosse – many of which resulted in platform or poster presentations at national conferences and, more importantly, provided valuable information to coaches and athletes.

Christopher’s leadership and participation in the AASPT show her commitment as a mentor and role model who inspires DPT students to get involved with their professional association. She serves on the running special interest group leadership committee as an item writer for the sports specialist exam, an abstract reviewer for the AASPT and the Team Concept Conference, and has been a speaker for running symposia.

Christopher’s selection to travel with the U.S. Paralympic Team to the World Games and other events also speaks volumes about her excellence in sports PT. It’s no wonder she was recognized by the AASPT with this year’s Excellence in Education award.