A physical therapist received a $1 million grant to integrate a key fall prevention plan into physical therapy practice.

Jennifer L. Vincenzo, PhD, MPH, PT, became the first University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences (UAMS) researcher to receive the national Paul B. Beeson Emerging Leaders Career Development Award in Aging, which comes with $1 million over five years.

The Beeson award stems from an initiative by the National Institute on Aging (NIA) at the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the American Federation for Aging Research, and the John A. Hartford Foundation.

They aim to develop a cadre of talented scientists prepared and willing to take an active leadership role in the transformative change that will lead to improved healthcare outcomes.

Vincenzo is only the third physical therapist to receive the award, which typically goes to physicians.

“I am honored to be a Beeson Scholar and represent UAMS,” said Vincenzo. “This award will allow UAMS to lead the way to address the public health issues of falls among older adults, which are a leading cause of morbidity, mortality, and decreased quality of life.”

The Beeson award will help Vincenzo integrate the fall prevention self-management plan into physical therapy practice. She developed the program over three years with funding from her UAMS KL2 award and using the STEADI (Stopping Elderly Accidents, Deaths & Injuries) toolkit developed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

The STEADI toolkit, established in 2012 for physicians to integrate fall prevention into daily practice, has yet to be widely adopted, but Vincenzo wants to change that. She aims to work with key partners to implement the integrated program as a standard of care in outpatient physical therapy clinics, starting at UAMS.

Vincenzo established her fall prevention self-management plan through work supported by a UAMS Translational Research Institute KL2 Mentored Research Career Development Award. She credits the KL2 support that began in 2019 as a key to her success.

She received two years (plus a one-year extension) of salary support, research funding, and translational research training, including training in implementation science.

Photo by David Wise courtesy of UAMS