Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine

Physical Therapy & Human Movement Sciences

Local Involvement

Faculty Projects

Gail Huber, PT, PhD and Bill Healey, PT, EdD, GCS

A relationship between Westside Health Authority (WHA) and the NU Department of Physical Therapy and Human Movement Sciences (PTHMS) started in 2004.  A faculty member contacted WHA to invite community health advocates (CHAs) to discuss the impact of health disparities and describe their health care experiences.  This relationship became formalized when Bill Healey and Gail Huber received a partnership-building grant from the Alliance for Research in Chicago Communities in 2009.  Since then Gail and Bill have worked with WHA staff on 9 projects related to physical activity promotion and access to physical therapy.  In addition, when called upon we have participated in community screenings for blood pressure, fitness, and balance.

Alliance for Research in Chicago Communities

Margaret Danilovich, PT, DPT, PhD, GCS

Dr. Danilovich's lab investigates physical activity and exercise interventions for older adults with frailty. In work funded by the Retirement Research Foundation, she is currently studying the effectiveness of a resistance exercise program in reducing frailty among older adults receiving Medicaid Home and Community Based waiver services. In this work, she has trained 126 home care aides employed through Help at Home to lead an exercise program with their clients during usual care services. A PCORI-funded Eugene Washington Award partners with Help at Home to develop and pilot test a health interview tool for home care aides to elicit care preferences among their clients. Dr. Danilovich is also funded by the Foundation for Physical Therapy Academy for Geriatric Physical Therapy to develop and test a self-management program for older adults with frailty. This project partners with the University of Chicago Successful Aging and Frailty Evaluation clinic

Student Opportunities


One of the hallmarks of professionalism in physical therapy is mindful practice, which is the capacity for critical self-­‐reflection, developed through regular self-­‐assessment and life-long learning. Social responsibility, as stated in the APTA Professionalism and Core Values document, “is the promotion of a mutual trust between the profession and the larger public that necessitates responding to societal needs for health and wellness.” One way to enhance social responsibility is through participation in volunteer/service activities. The purpose of the Professional Advancement & Community Engagement (PACE) requirement is to allow students to enrich their professional growth through self-­‐reflection and service in the community.  

NUPTHMS students spend at least 10 hours volunteering with local organization focusing on professional development and social responsibility as a healthcare professional. It is about developing lifelong skills of self-assessment & service to society. Students identify areas of personal and professional growth, set goals to improve in these areas, and are able to select an organization and opportunity that will help them achieve their goals.  

The following organizations are a few examples of the opportunities that exist for students in the Chicagoland area:

PACE Acrony

"Out of the Loop"

The NUPTHMS Global Health Committee and Diversity Committee plan an annual “Out of the Loop” bus tour to provide an opportunity for students and faculty from multiple departments to meet people working to improve the health of people living in Chicago’s medically underserved communities. 

As future physical therapists, our students will encounter patients and families that live and work in Chicago neighborhoods outside of the Gold Coast/Streeterville neighborhoods where our NU campus is located. The aim is to meet neighborhood residents and community organization staff and listen to their stories about local health care and learn about how neighborhood environment and other social factors contribute to health. This tour provides a unique opportunity to get off the bus and interact with people who live and work in communities outside of the Gold Coast/Streeterville neighborhood. 

Global PT Day of Service

Global PT Day of Service is an event that brings together over 8,000 physical therapists and students from over 42 countries. The vision of this event resulted from asking the question: “What if”? “What if” on the same day, clinicians, students and associated staff of the physical therapy profession volunteered in different communities around the world? What if, we then shared those moments and acts in a way that was galvanizing, inspiring, and promoted connections all over the world? What if!?

Click here to learn more about the event.

World PT Day

World Physical Therapy Day is an event that is held annually on September 8th. The day is an opportunity for physical therapists from all over the world to raise awareness about the crucial contribution the profession makes to keep people well, mobile, and independent. NUPT has begun to celebrate this day by hosting a luncheon for incoming NUPT students. One of the goals of the luncheon is to promote Global Health and the role physical therapy plays and to inspire students to think about how they can participate during their academic and professional careers.

Click here to learn more about the event.