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Our March Employee Spotlight features Alison Hanson. Alison is a faculty member in the Physical Therapist Assistant Program teaching Upper and Lower Extremity Biomechanics and Musculoskeletal Assessment and Pathology. As a practicing Physical Therapist for the past 20 years, Alison has an abundance of knowledge and experience she brings into the classroom. To learn more about Alison – read on ….
Tell Us About Yourself?
I have been a practicing physical therapist for nearly 20 years. For 19 years of those years, I practiced in a small Physical Therapy owned outpatient clinic. Last year I transitioned to a much larger facility, and now work at Children’s Hospital, Los Angeles, Motion and Sports Analysis Lab, whose primary mission is to improve patient’s walking ability and sports performance through state-of-the-art comprehensive computerized motion analysis testing and research. With over 350 children seen in the lab annually, I am involved in evaluating children for return to sporting activities after Anterior Cruciate Ligament (ACL) injuries, and other surgeries. I am also involved analyzing walking or gait of neurodevelopment involved children to facilitating surgical planning and intervention. According to Motion and Sports Analysis Lab, research, 89% of pre-operative treatment plans change after consideration of gait analysis data. Their research has also demonstrated that outcomes are much better when treatment follows gait analysis recommendations and that less subsequent surgery is needed when gait analysis is done.
In addition to her work, Alison is also a wife and mother to two children, ages 12 and 10.
Tell Us About Your Educational Background.
I attended Ithaca College, Ithaca, New York, where I received by Bachelor of Science in Physical Therapy as well as my Master of Physical Therapy.
At the time Alison attended, Ithaca was only one of four institutions in the country that offered both a physical therapy program and a strong gymnastic program – as you will read later, Alison was a gifted gymnast!
What Inspired You to Pursue A Career in Physical Therapy?
I was injured while playing sports as an adolescent and was prescribed physical therapy. I fell in love with how the Physical Therapists helped to rebuild my strength and movement. Physical Therapy was also my answer to wanting to work within the medical field that did not require the commitment and time of medical school.
What Areas Within This Field Are of Interest to You? Is There an Area You Are More Focused On?
I worked primarily in outpatient orthopedics the first 19 years of my professional career, focusing on patients with musculoskeletal problems. Now, working at the Motion and Sports Analysis Lab at Children’s Hospital, I am learning a great deal about neurodevelopmental diseases as well as gaining an in-depth understanding of gait (walking).
What Have Been Your Most Important, Proudest And/or Favorite Experience in Your Career?
I am very proud of passing the Orthopedic Clinical Specialist Exam and for completing my certification in Obstetric Physical Therapy. Both of these specialties required an immense dedication to studying in order to fulfill the requirements.
Share an example of when you established and accomplished a goal that was personally challenging. What helped you succeed?
Completing my Obstetrics Certification was very challenging. It required writing a case report, which amounted to a research paper. Writing is not my strong suit, so this really challenged me. I worked hard and received help from peers to review my paper and provide feedback. When I first submitted my case report, it was returned with errors and I did not pass; but, I did not give up. I followed the advice and feedback given and passed on the second attempt! It is so important to experience failure and to learn how to work hard for things you want! I try to teach this to students in every class – You have to fail in order to succeed.
What Brought You to Teach at Casa Loma College?
Prior to my coming to Casa Loma College, I was a clinical instructor for Casa Loma and other schools and enjoyed teaching the students in the clinics. The PTA Program at Casa Loma was in search of adjunct faculty and emailed Clinical Instructor’s (CI) looking for recruits. I knew that teaching in the classroom was something I wanted to try and when I came and interviewed, I knew it would be a good fit.
What do you find most rewarding about educating future Physical Therapist Assistants?
I absolutely love seeing these student’s, over the duration of a course and program, learning to connect the dots. As an instructor in semesters 2 through 4, I witness the growth of these students first hand. It was my ultimate reward to see my first set of students take and pass the board exams and get their first jobs as Physical Therapist Assistants!
Who Has Influenced You the Most in Life?
My parents have had the most influence in my life. They taught me to strive to succeed, work hard and to travel!
If you could have dinner with one person, living or dead, who would it be and why?
The Dali Lama. I love his sense of calmness and peace and would love to be in his presence just once.
How do you like to spend your free time?
My parents taught me to travel, and that has never left me – I travel whenever I can! I also enjoy being outside – hiking, biking, and walking.
What would people be surprised to know about you?
I was a four-time National Collegiate Gymnast All American.
“The class of 1998—featuring all-Americans Becky Davis, Kathy Kowalski, Alison McClung (Hanson) and Jen Nardone— helped the Bombers (Ithaca College) to a second-place finish at the 1997 NCGA championship and the program’s first national title a year later”.
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