August 11, 2017 | Erin Bluvas, firstname.lastname@example.org
It’s been almost a decade since Alicia Flach graduated with a doctor of physical therapy (DPT) degree from UofSC, but the 2008 alumna is excited to return to the Arnold School. Flach has gained significant clinical, research and teaching experience over the past nine years and is looking forward to her role as a clinical assistant professor with the exercise science department’s nationally-ranked DPT program.
“I am excited about many things with my new role here at in the Arnold School of Public Health,” Flach says. “First and foremost, I am excited to return as an alumna and bring my experiences back to the DPT program; I am looking forward to teaching in a classroom with small class sizes that will allow me to foster individualized learning; I’m also eager to join and contribute to the community of individuals with Parkinson’s Disease and multiple sclerosis through research and clinical service.”
Most recently an assistant professor at Saint Louis University, Flach has developed research expertise in physical therapy interventions for those who experience neurological injuries or diseases to maximize functional outcomes. She is particularly interested in helping individuals with Parkinson’s disease and multiple sclerosis improve their gait and balance.
Flach then translates this evidenced-based clinical knowledge for the classroom. She plans to integrate her previous clinical and research experiences into the prosthetics and orthotics and adult neurological evaluation and intervention courses she will teach at the Arnold School.
To deepen her knowledge of Parkinson’s disease even further, Flach recently was accepted and completed the Physical Therapy Faculty Program at the Center for Neurorehabilitation at Boston University. Here she was able to undergo training from top clinicians and researchers in the field. With this program, Flach learned the latest evidence-based findings in Parkinson’s research and care and will bring this knowledge back to the Arnold School to share with her physical therapy students.
Originally from a small town in Illinois, Flach became interested in physical therapy while volunteering at a community hospital during her undergraduate program in biology at the University of Illinois. “I was humbled and inspired by the role of physical therapists in helping individuals to return to their lives through improving their movement,” she says.
After graduation, Flach spent a year as a rehabilitation therapy technician, further fueling her interest in studying physical therapy. “I then had the good fortune and amazing opportunity to come to the University of South Carolina to study and obtain a doctorate in physical therapy,” Flach says. “While I was a student here at USC, I was able to work in Dr. Stacy Fritz’s lab with individuals with neurological injuries. This is what catapulted my interest in working in this area of physical therapy.”
In parallel with her growing clinical and research expertise in neurological injuries, Flach has also developed a passion for advocacy. In particular, she works with the National Multiple Sclerosis Society (NMSS) to inform state legislators on issues related to healthcare and accessibility. “I’m looking forward to capitalizing—pun intended—on the excellent location of USC in Columbia that will allow me to continue to partner with NMSS and other local organizations in advocating for individuals with multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s disease and health care related issues,” Flach says.
The DPT program and the exercise science department are excited to welcome the alumna back to the Arnold School. “There is nothing more rewarding then having the chance to work with and learn from your own graduate,” says Fritz, who directs the DPT program. “Alicia is bringing a whole new set of expertise to the DPT program with her strong clinical skills and her advocacy for people with neurological disease. I can't wait to watch as she inspires many future generations of students.”
“The recruitment of exceptional faculty is a requirement for the continued excellence of our growing DPT program,” adds exercise science chair James Carson. “The exercise science department is extremely fortunate to be adding Dr. Alicia Flach to our faculty this fall. Her understanding of our outstanding environment within the Arnold School of Public Health, coupled with the experience she has gained since graduating from USC, will certainly serve to strengthen our DPT program.”