November 4, 2013
Franklin Pierce University Doctor of Physical Therapy students are part of an innovative new program that began as a casual conversation between acquaintances. The program provides strength and conditioning exercises and injury-prevention training to members of the Goodyear Fire Department and is a great example of higher education giving back to the community.
In November 2012, Paul Luizzi, now chief of the department, was concerned about the rise in injuries suffered by firefighters. He talked with Professor Teri Roberts of Franklin Pierce University’s Doctor of Physical Therapy program in the College of Graduate & Professional Studies, who arranged for Luizzi to meet with students in the program.
The physical therapy students agreed to do a study whose subjects would be the firefighters at one of Goodyear’s six fire stations. The Franklin Pierce students designed a program – featuring injury prevention techniques and exercises to improve strength, stability, and balance – that they taught at the firehouse. The firefighters, who were required to participate, enjoyed the program and shared a competitive spirit in doing the exercises.
After the pilot program ended, Luizzi, who has an M.B.A. in Human Resource Management from Franklin Pierce, compiled injury statistics for the fire department. He found impressive results: despite a citywide increase in injuries to firefighters, the group that received exercise training suffered no injuries.
Doctor of Physical Therapy students now work with three more fire stations in Goodyear. The city’s Risk Management Office saw the results of the study and asked another group of students in the Franklin Pierce program to provide similar training to members of the Goodyear Water Department. Luizzi said more city departments may join the program and that he would like to add a physical therapy component for injured firefighters.
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