Faculty and Staff : Full-Time Faculty

Neva Kirk-Sanchez, PhD, PT

Primary Appointment:
Department of Physical Therapy, Miller School of Medicine, Associate Professor and Chair, DPT Program Director

PhD Physical Therapy (2001), University of Miami, Coral Gables, FL

MS Physical Therapy (1990), University of Miami, Coral Gables, FL

BS Zoology (1988), University of Florida, Gainesville, FL

Academy of Geriatric Physical Therapy, Subcommittee for Evidence Based Documents of the Practice Committee
Editorial Board, PTNow
Writing group: Clinical Practice Guideline for Falls Management

My earliest work focused on health and rehabilitation in the Hispanic population, and in particular focused on the psychosocial aspect of rehabilitation and factors related to adherence to activity programs. I studied both factor predicting positive outcomes and discharge disposition and length of stay in rehabilitation in the Cuban-American population. In addition, I examined adherence patterns after discharge from outpatient therapy in a multicultural population. In addition, I examined common comorbid diseases this population and the affect it has on activity limitations which might limit adherence to prescribed activity programs. In response to disparities in the representation of minority health professionals, I examined minority recruitment and retention issues related to physical therapy education.

Previous work in health behaviors and adherence to activity recommendations led me to work in the development of an evidence based participatory exercise program, as co-author of Manual and co-PI on the grant supporting the National Policy and Resource Center on Nutrition, Physical Activity, and Aging funded by the Administration on Aging.

In the last few years, increasing emphasis has been placed on evidence based preventative practices, following the creation of the Prevention Task Force. My interest in this area has led to my participation on the Evidence based task force for the Academy of Geriatric Pnysical Therapy, and my involvement and authorship of the Clinical Guidance Statement for Falls in Community Dwelling Older adults. This work continues iwith my involvement in the Guideline Development Group for the creation of a clinical practice guideline for the Prevention and Management of Falls in Community Dwelling Older adults. This work is funded by the American Physical Therapy Association. In addition, I have been a member of the editorial board of PTNow a clinical web portal supported by the APTA to advance and facilitate evidence based practice by physical therapists.

Early involvement in implementation of exercise programs to address both physical, behavioral, and cognitive impairments in people with Alzheimer’s disease led to my in the area of mild cognitive impairment. As the science and diagnostic classification of the progression of cognitive impairment evolved over the past 10 years, emphasis has been placed on both the examination of factors related to cognitive decline in early stages of neurogenerative disease, and the role of physical activity and physical therapy and exercise on delaying cognitive decline. I am currently advancing this work to examine balance and mobility impairments in people with mild cognitive impairment and the influency of dual task activities on balance on people with and without cogntivie impairment. This work has been supported by grants from the Johnny Byrd Sr. Alzheimer’s Center and Research Institute and NIH-NIA research grant 1RC1AG035933-01 entitled Exercise vs Cognitive Interventions for Elders at Risk for Dementia.

Simultaneous with work examining exercise behaviors in older adults with cognitive impairment was work involving exercise behaviors in multi-ethnic children. This work examined trends related to motor performance and obesity in this at-risk population, and also involved pilot work in community-based participatory exercise and nutrition programs delivered in the after-school setting. Much of this work was accomplished by Annabel Nunez Gaunaurd, who at the time was a doctoral student who I was mentoring through her PhD studies. This work resulted in several publications and presentations, and laid the foundation for continuing work with health behaviors in minority school-aged children.

Agency: National Institutes of Aging, AG047266 (ADRC seed monies)
Title: Assessment of Gait and Balance as Measures of Fall Risk in People with Mild Cognitive Impairment
Role: PI
Total cost: $33,000
Funding period: 4/1/2016-3/31/2017

Agency: National Institute of Children Health and Human Development, 1R01HD79009-01
Title: Dose-Response Effects of Whole Body Vibration on Spasticity and Walking in SCI
Role: Co-investigator
Principal Investigator: Edelle Field-Fote
Total cost: $1,600,000
Funding Period: 10/1/2014-9/30/2019

Agency: National Institute on Aging, NIH 1RC1AG035933-01
Title: Exercise vs Cognitive Interventions for Elders at Risk for Dementia
Role: co-PI
Principal investigator: David Loewenstein
Funding Period: 10/1/09-9/30/11

Agency: State of Florida, Johnny B. Byrd Sr, Alzheimer’s Center and Research Institute
Title: Physical activity, fitness, and cognition among participants in the Florida ADRC Clinical core.
Role: PI
Funding Period: 5/1/08-4/30/09

Agency: UHF via UM Department of Family Medicine and Community Health
Title: Healthy Choices for Life for People with Diabetes
Role: co-PI
Principal Investigator: John Lewis

Agency: FIU Foundation
Title: Improving function and quality of life in homebound patients with Type 2 diabetes using an individualized exercise regimen and follow-up phone calls.
Role: PI.
Funding period 5/2004-12/2004.

Agency: US Department of Health and Human Services, Administration on Aging. Title: National Resource Center for Nutrition, Physical Activity and Aging.
Role: co-PI
Principal investigator: Nancy Wellman
Funding period: 9/2003-9/2006.

Agency: Foundation of Physical Therapy Foundation Research Grant
Title: Factors related to adherence to a home exercise program after discharge from outpatient physical therapy.
Role: PI
Total cost: $40,000
Funding period 1/2003-6/2004.

Selected Publications:
McGough E, Kirk-Sanchez N, Liu-Ambrose T. Integrating health promotion into physical therapy practice to improve brain health and prevent Alzheimer’s disease. Journal of Neurologic Physical Therapy, in press.

Guideline Development Group: Avin K, Hanke T, Hardage J,* Kirk-Sanchez N*, McDonough C, Shubert T. Management of Falls in Community-dwelling Older Adults: A Clinical Guidance Statement from the Academy of Geriatric Physical Therapy. Physical Therapy, 2015. 95(6):815-34.

Kirk-Sanchez N, McGough E. Physical exercise and cognitive performance in the elderly: Current perspectives. Clin Interv Aging. 2014;9:51-62.

Nunez-Gaunaurd A, Moore JG, Roach K, Miller T, Kirk-Sanchez NJ. Motor Proficiency, Strength, Endurance and Physical Activity among Children who are Healthy, Overweight and Obese. Journal of Pediatric Physical Therapy, April, 2013.

Gaunaurd I, Gailey R, Hafner BJ, Gomez-Marin O,* Kirk-Sanchez N*. Postural asymmetries in transfemoral amputation. Prosthetic and Orthotics International, 2011. 35(2) 171–180

Roach KE, Tappen R, Kirk-Sanchez N, Loewenstein D.. A Randomized Controlled Trial of an Activity Specific Exercise Program for Individuals with Alzheimer’s Disease in Long Term Care Settings. Journal of Geriatric Physical Therapy, 2011 34(2): 50-56.

Nunez A, Kirk-Sanchez N. Health Outcomes of an Extracurricular Family-based Intervention for Physical Activity on Three Hispanic Male Children. Journal of Physical Therapy Policy, Administration and Leadership (JPTPAL), 2011, 11(3): J2-J9.

Haskins A, Kirk-Sanchez NJ. Recruitment and Retention of Students from Minority Groups. Physical Therapy. In press, date of publication 1/2006.

Kirk-Sanchez NJ. Factors related to activity limitation in a group of Cuban- Americans before and after hip fracture. Physical Therapy, 84: 408-18, 2004.

Kirk-Sanchez N, Roberts L, Cornely H. Managing chronic disease – Enhancing patient adherence to a home exercise program. GeriNotes, 11(1): 13-16, 2004.

Kirk-Sanchez NJ. The importance of psychosocial factors in determining disability and perceived health in a group of older Hispanic-Americans recovering from hip fracture. Journal for Geriatric Physical Therapy. 26(2): 3-9, 2003.

*Kirk-Sanchez NJ *and Roach KE. The relationship between duration of therapy services in a comprehensive rehabilitation program and functional mobility at discharge in patients with orthopedic problems. Physical Therapy, 81(3), 888-895, 2001.

Courses Taught:
PTS 676: Medical screening in physical therapy