Twenty CSUN Physical Therapy Students Take the Field at Dodger Stadium

Growing up a few miles outside of Dodger Stadium, second-year California State University, Northridge physical therapy student James Choe spent many memorable days cheering on the Los Angeles Dodgers from the stands.

On April 18, Choe achieved a childhood dream when he was one of 20 CSUN physical therapy students in the renowned doctorate program honored at Dodger Stadium. These students were recognized for being recipients of the prestigious Roy and Roxie Campanella Scholarship. The scholarship is provided by the Los Angeles Dodgers Foundation and the Roy and Roxie Campanella Foundation every year to CSUN students in the Department of Physical Therapy.

The students walked on the field before the Dodgers played the Colorado Rockies and stood in front of loud cheers from more than 37,000 fans as an announcer listed off each of their names to the crowd.

“This was the closest I’ve ever been to the field,” Choe said. “I’m just speechless. The relationship the foundations have with the CSUN physical therapy department is special. The scholarship is for $1,000, so it was a significant portion that can help pay for tuition.”

Dodger legend Roy Campanella was injured in a car accident in 1958 that left him paralyzed from the neck down. After moving to the West Coast, he settled in the San Fernando Valley to pursue a second career in community relations for the Dodger organization. He also spent time mentoring young catchers during Spring Training for the Dodgers. He sought out physical therapy treatments to help him with his condition, which eventually led to his Campanella Foundation funding scholarships for physical therapy students.

“All my father cared about in terms of providing the scholarships was that he could reward and show his appreciation to students who were following their dreams of becoming physical therapists,” said Campanella’s daughter, Joni Campanella-Roan. “Physical therapists turned my dad’s life around and gave him the motivation to live. It meant everything to him to be able to provide an opportunity for people following in that field.”

Through the partnership between the Campanella Foundation and the Los Angeles Dodgers Foundation the number of recipients has grown by five every year since 2015, and is expected to grow to 25 by the fall. Campanella-Roan credited the increase to the success of CSUN’s physical therapy program.

“If my mother and father were alive today, they would be so thrilled to see how the number of recipients has grown,” Campanella-Roan said. “The program at CSUN provides [students] with so many tools. Adding five more recipients each year is such a great opportunity and I know it would mean the world to my parents.”

For honoree Catherine Soliva, the scholarship validated that her hard work throughout school has paid off.

“Having the support [from the scholarship] means a lot because it shows that so many people are behind us — parents, friends and now even the Dodgers,” Soliva said. “All of us here are very committed and excited about the profession.”

On top of the 20 scholarships provided to CSUN students, the Dodgers select one student from the program each year to intern with the team for eight weeks during Spring Training. This year’s intern, Ryan Yoshida, said the experience was incredible and extremely beneficial.

“I am very thankful for the opportunity through the CSUN physical therapy program,” Yoshida said. “I was able to learn so much and really gain an appreciation for the day-to-day events and work that go on with a Major League Baseball medical staff.”

Sharing in the students’ appreciation of the Roy and Roxie Campanella scholarship was College of Health and Human Development Dean Farrell Webb.

“I’m very grateful to the Dodgers organization and Joni [Campanella-Roan] because what they’ve done is more than just give scholarships to students,” Webb said. “They’ve opened up life opportunities, which is something very few people get.”

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CSUN PT Students Encourage People With Limb Loss to Find New Independence

Community members came together with California State University, Northridge students and faculty from the Departments of Physical Therapy, Kinesiology and Family and Consumer Sciences on April 1 for the third annual Exercise Community Living in Prosthetics and Supporting Everyone (ECLIPSE) Symposium.

CSUN once again partnered with the Mutual Amputee Aid Foundation (MAAF) to offer a full day of educational sessions, networking and exercise clinics for people associated with the amputee community, in the Activity Center of Redwood Hall.

“CSUN is positioned to be a resource for this community. This event creates an opportunity for physical therapy students to learn about the issues and concerns of people with limb loss,” said physical therapy professor and event coordinator Victoria Graham. “The community members receive services during the day, and interact with experienced clinicians as well as students.”

The day began with a talk by guest speaker, Mark Muller, the Chair of the Orthotics and Prosthetics Department at California State University, Dominguez Hills.

Muller delivered a speech that touched on the technology used for individuals dealing with limb loss, how people could find information about different outcome measures, the changes in the health care system in regard to benefits for patients and what resources are available to them through their insurance.

There was a short break after Muller’s presentation, then patients were given a tour of CSUN and participated in several warm-up exercises followed by an hour-long run clinic.

Noel Flannery, 49, who lost his leg following a head-on collision with a distracted driver, participated in the run clinic.

“It’s been outstanding and great fun,” Flannery said. “I think it’s very beneficial to connect both the people going out into the field and the people that need the assistance.”

After lunch, patients and family members were given a tour of the CSUN Center of Achievement (Brown Center) through the Adapted Physical Activity facility.

In the Center, patients rotated every 30 minutes between exercise training sessions such as inter-professional gait analysis, functional testing lab, agility training or balance and strengthening exercise for prosthetic users.

Melissa Villa, 36, decided amputation was the best option when doctors told her she developed osteomyelitis after her hardware became infected with a staph infection after she was discharged from a routine operation.

Villa, who attended ECLIPSE for the first time this year, said she appreciated how CSUN students made her feel encouraged and supported throughout the event.

“I’ve been to another event and they’re very nice, but it really feels more like a community [here],” said Villa.

The day wrapped up with patients having the opportunity to meet with clinicians to go over the course, get feedback and take a post test for their professional Continuing Education (CE) credit.

Melissa Flores, a lead third year physical therapy student, helped organize the event sessions and found ECLIPSE to be helpful for both physical therapy students and amputees.

Flores said, “I really love that we are able to bring in patients as physical therapy students. We are able to see patients who have amputated limbs and are able to practice evaluating them, treating them and strengthening them. It’s really cool to work with patients and hear their story.”

For more information, visit the ECLIPSE website.

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