Professor Wilson Receives American Physical Therapy Association Awards – The Oakland Post


On February 4, Dr. Christopher Wilson, Associate Professor and Director of Clinical Education for the Physical Therapy Program at Oakland University, received two awards at the American Physical Therapy Association (APTA) Combined Sections Meeting . Dr. Wilson received the President’s Award and the Debbra Flomenhoft Humanitarian Award from the Academy of Physical Therapy Oncology.

The President’s Award was presented to Dr. Wilson in recognition of his efforts and service to APTA Oncology. The Debbra Flomenhoft Humanitarian Prize honors those whose work has advanced the practice of compassionate oncology rehabilitation, improved understanding of cancer diseases and psychosocial rehabilitation issues, and advocated for patients.

“The recognitions were so meaningful because they help me say we’re on the right track,” says Dr. Wilson. “We really have an impact [by] improve the education of physiotherapy students so that they are better prepared to work with people with cancer and further advance the science of oncology rehabilitation.

Dr. Wilson’s well-known success also stems from his ability to solve problems frequently associated with cancer treatments. According to Dr. Wilson, the number one side effect people report after cancer treatments is fatigue – they feel exhausted and washed out because the treatments have physiologically affected their nerves.

“One of the things we’re noticing and research is showing is that exercise is one of the best things for treating cancer – to the point where every person who is diagnosed with any type cancer [or] receiving cancer treatment should follow an exercise program,” says Dr. Wilson.

Dr. Wilson also believes that the role of a physiotherapist for cancer patients is undervalued. He believes that a physiotherapist should play an ongoing role in cancer rehabilitation.

“You may have symptoms that develop weeks or even months or even years after cancer treatments have finished. Even after a person has been cured or stabilized, they may still experience fatigue or they may end up having range of motion restrictions that occur years after their issues,” says Dr. Wilson. “[Patients] need to have an established relationship with a therapist even through periodic check-ups, so we try to teach therapists how to do [this] across the United States.

Dr. Wilson also played an important role in APTA’s policy change. One of Dr. Wilson’s contributions was to establish the position that patients who may not survive their cancer deserve treatment just as much as those who are cured or stabilized.

“Some people think, ‘why would we do rehabilitation or physical therapy on someone who is facing a life-threatening illness and might be dying?’ My answer to that is, well, they’re not gone yet. They’re not dead yet. They’ve got a lot to live for,” says Dr. Wilson. “I don’t think that’s very ethical for us as it’s a profession to abandon them when they need therapy the most.”

Dr. Wilson’s vast knowledge of the practice of physiotherapy in the field of cancer and oncology diagnostics not only impacts APTA, but also the new generations of students he teaches who will shape the field of physiotherapy.

“Cancer is the second killer in the United States, and we need you to know that we have a skill set that can help improve the quality and length of life for these people. It’s our job to prepare and intervene,” says Dr. Wilson. “I think it’s very important for us to recognize that no matter what setting our students are going to be working in, they’re going to see people with cancer. something we should run away from. It’s not something we should be afraid of. It’s something we should embrace. We are helping to solve a major public health problem and helping to save and improve the lives of people [for] as long as they are gone.


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