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Alumna Brings Adaptive Sports Knowledge to PT Students

By Nicole Carrera

Published on December 3, 2021

​​Adaptive sports has taken Judy Morrison MPT’93 around the world as she’s helped athletes with disabilities on some of the world’s biggest stages. Now she is bringing this knowledge back to USciences to share with current students.

Judy Morrison MPT'93

After graduating in 1993 from what was then called Philadelphia College of Pharmacy and Science (PCPS), Morrison began volunteering with adaptive sports programs which focus on athletes with disabilities. Twenty eight years later she continues her work in adaptive sports, working part time as a program manager for the Pennsylvania Center for Adapted Sports (PCAS).

“This program is a non-profit organization whose mission is to improve the lives of people with disabilities through recreation and wellness programs,” Morrison said. “I’ve helped with almost all of the sports that PCAS offers including cycling, rowing, skiing, track and field, swimming, climbing, sitting volleyball, kayaking, yoga, and, our newest program, accessible birding.”

She’s helped athletes competing in the Beijing, London, and Rio Paralympics, and the Invictus Games in Sydney.

Judy Morrison MPT'93

“I was one of five people in the world who developed the World Rowing Para-Rowing Classification System. I then taught this system to groups all over the world, and have classified athletes from six continents,” Morrison said.

Morrison was drawn to PCPS because of its direct-entry program and reputation as a premiere school. She was able to hone in on her interests and find a career path that was right for her. She credits the late Patricia Leahy, former professor in the Department of Physical Therapy, for opening her eyes to neuroscience and combining that with her interest in sports PT.

“I fell in love with neurology,” said Morrison. “[Leahy] was an amazing instructor, and so very motivating. She helped me decide to start my career in PT in inpatient neuro settings.”

Morrison has recently partnered with the USciences Department of Physical Therapy to help students understand adaptive sports. Lora Packel PhD, chair of the department, said Morrison’s partnership is crucial to helping students understand the multiple aspects of rehabilitation and health promotion.

“People with disabilities have limited access to health promotion activities which we know can improve function, reduce the risk of chronic diseases, and improve both physical and mental health,” said Dr. Packel. “This event will enable PT students to connect our expertise as movement scientists with a program aimed at improving the health of those with disabilities.”

In addition to her role at PCAS and work at USciences, Morrison currently works part time as an outpatient PT at Good Shepherd Rehabilitation Network in the Lehigh Valley, Pennsylvania with no plans to stop clinical work any time soon.

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