News Archive

UCA DPT Ranked Top 25%

U.S. News & World Report released the 2024 Best Graduate Schools rankings on April 10, revealing the excellent performance of University of Central Arkansas programs including Physical Therapy #58, Occupational Therapy #92 and Speech Language Pathology #136.

The UCA DPT Program continues to rank best among DPT Schools nationally.   UCA is ranked among the top 25% of DPT Programs according to U.S. News & World Report 2024 Best Grad Schools review.

Best Physical Therapy Programs (

UCA Hosts ARPTA SSIG Student Expo

Dr. Odom and student

Dr. Odom and Mary Grace Dupuy

“The APTA Arkansas SSIG hosted its first Student Expo this past Saturday at UCA. Students across 5 DPT programs in Arkansas gathered to network, engage with local businesses, and hear from practicing clinicians on various topics. Discussion topics included managing finances and student debt, manual therapy techniques, travel physical therapy, and opening a private practice. This was an incredible opportunity to collaborate with various students across the state and learn more about our profession. We hope to continue this event annually to serve PT and PTA students across Arkansas.” -Mary Grace Dupuy, Executive Chair.

students at meeting

ARPTA SSIG Student Expo

The APTA Arkansas SSIG Student Expo, held at UCA, Saturday, April 6th, was a student led, one day Expo attended by over 90 students from the five DPT Programs in Arkansas including UCA, Arkansas State University (Jonesboro), Harding University (Searcy), UAMS (Fayetteville) and AR Colleges of Health Education (Ft. Smith).  Guest speakers included UCA alumni Dr. Chris Carroll (DPT2019) presenting on manual therapy, Dr. Jenny Freyman (DPT2006) presenting on private practice, Dr.   Travis McGill (DPT2018) presenting on travel PT and Dr. Eric Seaman (DPT2013) presenting on finances. Students also got to meet and visit with vendors during the Expo.

group of students

ARPTA SSIG Leadership

The 2023-2024 Student Special Interest Group for Arkansas APTA is led by Executive Chair Mary Grace Dupuy (UCA), Executive Vice Chair Bryson Woods (Arkansas State), Secretary Anna Beth Raley (UCA) and Social Media Coordinator Emily Blanchard (UCA). UCA Student Representatives are Madelyn Tankersley and Kaylie Lane. Dr. Brian Odom, Vice President of ARPTA, serves as UCA’s faculty advisor.

The 2024 AR SSIG Student Expo was sponsored by: Harris and Renshaw PT, River Valley Therapy and Sports Medicine, McMaster PT Clinic, Gross Therapy Services, Proactive PT, Kidsource Therapy, South Arkansas Rehab, Rehab Net of Arkansas, APTA Arkansas, and hosted by UCA Physical Therapy. It was a great success!

DPT Open House, April 13th

The Department of Physical Therapy is hosting an OPEN HOUSE on Saturday, April 13th in the PT Center on campus.  This will be a come and go, drop-in event for prospective students from 10:00 am until 12:00 pm (noon).  Guests can tour the PT Center, meet DPT students and visit with PT Faculty members.  Our Program Advisor will also be available to discuss application requirements.

Dr. Odom Publishes Book Chapter on Wound Care

portrait of Dr. Odom

Dr. Brian Odom

Dr. Brian Odom, an Assistant Professor in the Physical Therapy Department, recently had a book chapter published in the Text and Atlas of WOUND DIAGNOSIS and TREATMENT, 3rd edition. His chapter was titled “Pediatric Wounds” and the chapter focused on pediatric skin development, common wound etiologies seen in children, and applying the elements of best wound management in the pediatric population.

Dr. Brian Odom a licensed physical therapist and a Certified Wound Specialist (CWS) by the American Board of Wound Management.  Dr. Odom currently serves as Vice President of APTA Arkansas. He was selected by the Specialization Academy of Content Experts (SACE) as an item writer for the APTA- Academy of Clinical Electrophysiology & Wound Management; a new specialty exam in wound management that began in 2022.

Dr. Odom began teaching in the UCA Department of Physical Therapy in 2005 as an adjunct instructor in the area of integumentary then joined the UCA faculty as a full-time member in the Fall of 2022 after teaching at Harding University’s PT program from 2012 to 2022.  His research interests include enhancing the learning experience for the next generation of physical therapist, the use of telemedicine in wound care, and pediatric wound healing.

PT Day of Giving is a Success

UCA Physical Therapy would like to thank all of the UCA PT Alumni, Students and Friends who recently participated in our annual fundraiser! During the week of March 7th, our PT Alumni Phonathon and Day of Giving raised over $7,500 toward DPT student scholarships!  Also, special thanks to the fifteen DPT students made the phone calls on March 5th for our annual Phonathon.

This was the 10th annual Day of Giving for UCA.  Upon conclusion UCA was able to raise $1,466,334 with 2, 369 donors among whom 36% were students, 32% alumni and 22% UCA faculty/staff.

collage of pictures of students at the PTCenter

Day of Giving 2024

Presentations at APTA Combined Sections Meeting, Boston, February 17, 2024

Faculty and students recently participated in the Combined Sections Meeting of the APTA in Boston on February 17, 2024.

group of student at meeting in Boston

UCA Students at CSM 2024

Dr. Brian Odom, Dr. Leah Lowe, and Dr. Charlotte Yates provided an educational course at CSM entitled, “Moving Beyond the Wound Model to Patient Care” to a full audience.

Ryan Ozanich, DPT2024, and Dr. Melisa Allen presented “Engaging DPT Students in Dementia Care: A Pilot Model for Community-Based Interprofessional Engagement” at CSM in Boston, a project completed with coauthors Amanda Bennett, DPT2024, Dr. Jordan Kerry, Dr. Michael Gallagher, Dr. January Schultz and Richelle Weese.

Recent PhD program graduate and DPT alum Josh Landers‘ work was presented on February 17 in Boston at CSM “Deep Vein Thrombosis Responding to Blood Flow Restriction of the Uninvolved Extremities: A Case Report” with co-authors Melissa Allen, Mark Mennemeier, and Stacia Carroll (UCA DPT 2022).

Alumni Spotlight Dr. Brita DeStefano, Pediatric Residency


Meet physical therapist and notable alumna, Brita DeStefano. Brita completed the UCA Pediatric Physical Therapy Residency program in 2012. Brita currently resides with her family in Denver, CO where she owns and operates a successful private practice, Progress Through Play. She focuses on proactive care for infants, and specializes in manual therapy whereby she treats infants with conditions including torticollis, plagiocephaly, tongue tie, and developmental delay.
Regarding her time as a resident, Brita says she has “fond memories of working alongside my co-resident, teaching and presenting to the UCA DPT students, and participating in many fun community events.” What Brita appreciates about the residency program is the variety of clinical experiences it offers, which allowed her to find what she was truly passionate about within the field of pediatric physical therapy.  When it comes to advice for current PT students, Brita says students should go into their clinical experiences with an open mind. When she first started her PT education journey, she never expected to be where she is now; but because she was open to new experiences, she found a specialty that she loves and is passionate about.

You can find Brita on Instagram @progressthroughplay



Seeking Nominations 2024 Joe Finnell Distinguished Alumni Award


The UCA Department of Physical Therapy is seeking nominations for the Joe Finnell Distinguished Alumni Award, which recognizes graduates who have achieved outstanding accomplishments in their professional careers. The honoree(s) will be recognized at an event in the Spring on campus (details forthcoming).

Criteria for Selection:

The award is open to any alumna or alumnus of the UCA Physical Therapy program who graduated 10 or more years ago. This individual is or was a licensed physical therapist (PT) or physical therapist assistant (PTA) and has earned a PTA or PT degree from UCA (ie. AS, BS, MS, DPT, or PhD degree).

Past Recipients:

Susan Appling, Nat Grubbs, Mary Anne Hart, James A. Hoyme, Cecile W. Kimmer, Barbara J. Lovett, William S. Quillen, Nancy Reese, Chris Throneberry, Lisa VanHoose, Mala H. Waller, Glenda Winborn.

Deadline for submission is Monday, March 1, 2024.

More details at

Alumni Spotlight Dr. Staffan Elgelid, PhD in Physical Therapy


Meet physical therapist and notable alumnus of our PhD in PT program Staffan Elgelid. Staffan currently resides in Rochester, New York, and is a full-time tenured professor of physical therapy at Nazareth University. He continues to see clients as a Feldenkrais practitioner and teaches yoga therapy programs. Since his time at UCA, Staffan has co-written four books on yoga therapy, has created four DVDs on strengthening and yoga, and has presented at workshops across the world. He has also worked at the track and field world championships.
While earning his PhD in PT at UCA, Staffan was also an instructor in the UCA DPT program. He says he loved teaching the students and has fond memories of working with other faculty members and learning from them. Staffan also enjoys visiting UCA whenever he is traveling in the area, which was most recently in spring 2023.
When it comes to advice for current and future DPT students, Staffan says health and wellness field is wide open to PTs because we can practice without referral, so he encourages PTs to seize that opportunity. “If you decide to stay meek and not let people know how great you are, we will not move forward as a profession.”


Gabe Freyaldenhoven and Nat Grubbs Receive APTA Arkansas Awards

Bill Taylor and Nat Grubbs
Passion for the Profession Award

Congratulations to two outstanding UCA Physical Therapy alumni making a difference in the profession of physical therapy.  Gabe Freyaldenhoven ’98 and Nat Grubbs ’87 each received awards during the recent state association meeting held October 6-8, 2023.

Bill Taylor, President of APTA Arkansas, presented the awards on October 7th during the 7th Annual OPTimize Conference and Exhibition held in North Little Rock.

Nat Grubbs ‘87 is the Recipient of the Roy Lee Aldridge Jr. Passion for the Profession Award from APTA Arkansas

This award is for significant participation and contribution by a PT or PTA to physical therapy in Arkansas. The award recipient is someone that has made achievements in promoting physical therapy in the state, an ambassador for the profession, and embodies an overall passion for helping people through physical therapy.

Nat is an alumnus from the UCA Physical Therapy Class of 1987, owner of South Arkansas Rehabilitation in Monticello, long-time clinical partner for UCA, former UCA PT faculty member and recent recipient of the Joe Finnell Distinguished Alumni Award in 2023.

Photo Credit:  Austin Fortinberry

Gabe Freyaldenhoven, PT, DPT
UCA PT Class of 1998

Gabe Freyaldenhoven ’98 is the 2023 Recipient of the Greg Wren-APTA Arkansas Legislative Award Presented by APTA Arkansas

Gabe Freyaldenhoven, PT, DPT, received the 2023 Greg Wren – APTA Arkansas Legislative Award.  This award is for significant contribution to physical therapy in Arkansas in the legislative arena; Gabe worked with lawmakers to increase reimbursement rates for pediatric therapy, he also has worked on legislation that allows private practice clinics to see adult Medicaid patients, and he serves on a national consortium that works with national payers for reimbursement of therapy services.

Gabe is an alumnus from the UCA Physical Therapy Class of 1998, owner of River Valley Therapy & Sports Medicine in Russellville, co-owner of McMaster Physical Therapy Clinic in Conway and Greenbrier, long-time clinical partner for UCA and currently serves on the Clinic Advisory Committee for the UCA DPT Program.