Purpose: The Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic challenged physical therapy students and faculty. The faculty at this institution implemented a modular curriculum progressing from in-person to remote learning to parallel a predicted autumn COVID-19 surge. This study compares the effect of varying educational models on physical therapy students’ physical activity and social isolation outcomes during their program’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic. We hypothesized that changes in students’ physical activity and social interaction would be observed throughout the semester as the curriculum became more distance based. Methods: This prospective cohort investigation of 42 students from a single physical therapy program was conducted from August through December of 2020. Students’ physical activity [International Physical Activity Questionnaire (IPAQ)] and social isolation [Lubben Social Network Scale-6 (LSNS-6)] were assessed at four timepoints. Each timepoint included progressively less in-person interaction and more remote learning. Repeated-measures ANOVAs were performed for each measure, with associated post hoc timepoint comparisons. Results: Students’ IPAQ scores were significantly affected by time, F(2.54, 104.18) = 6.71, p = .001, ɷ2 = .19, as were their scores on the LSNS-6, F(2.48,101.48) = 4.09, p = .013, ɷ2 = .060. Conclusions: Statistical reductions in physical activity and social interactions were observed; however, on average the cohort did not drop below at-risk levels on either the IPAQ or LSNS-6. Faculty can rest assured that any curricular model will not adversely affect students; however, should be aware of the adverse effects observed in a minority of students who may be at increased risk.

Author Bio(s)

Daniel W. Flowers, PT, DPT, PhD, is an Assistant Professor of Physical Therapy at LSU Health Shreveport, School of Allied Health Professions. He is a Board-Certified Orthopaedic Clinical Specialist and serves as Program Director of the LSU Health Shreveport Orthopaedic Residency Program.

Amanda Bernard, PT, DPT, is an Instructor of Physical Therapy at LSU Health Shreveport in the School of Allied Health Professions. She serves as the Physical Therapy Program's Director of Clinical Education.

Erin McCallister, PT, DPT, COMT, is an Instructor of Physical Therapy in the LSU Health Shreveport School of Allied Health Professions in Shreveport, LA. She is also a Board-Certified Clinical Specialist in Orthopaedic Physical Therapy.

Lauren Rachal Sant, PT, DPT, NCS, is a core faculty member at LSU Health Shreveport and is also Director of their Neurologic Physical Therapy Residency. Her research interests include the influence of student traits on education outcomes, and cognitive-motor interference in neurologic conditions. She has presented regionally and nationally.



IRB Approval Letter.pdf (124 kB)
IRB Approval Letter

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Figure 1.Revised

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Figure 2.Revised

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Figure 3.Revised

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Figure 4.Revised



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