Springfield College Physical Therapy Department Faculty and Students Assist at Massachusetts Senior Games



At left, Danette Krushel (DPT, Class of 2017), Mary Monahan (DPT, Class of 2016), Erin Carpenter (DPT, Class of 2016), Camille Richards (DPT, Class of 2016), Walgreens Pharmacist Kalani Hornbeak, Olivia Pare (DPT, Class of 2016), Kayla Sokol, DPT'15, Meghan Bradley, DPT'13, and Assistant Professor of Physical Therapy Kimberly Nowakowski

Senior athletes recently made their way to the Springfield College campus for the Massachusetts Senior Games. Some athletes had an extra event for the second year in a row thanks to the Springfield College Department of Physical Therapy. Springfield College faculty member and geriatric clinical specialist, Kimberly Nowakowski, brought Springfield College Doctor of Physical Therapy students and recent physical therapy alumni to assist in providing the Senior Athlete Fitness Exam (SAFE) during the event. 

The SAFE specifically aims to test seniors who are involved in sports. It tests the athlete’s strength, flexibility, balance, mobility, posture and cardiovascular risk factors. SAFE was created by Becca Jordre, a physical therapist and geriatric clinical specialist from the University of South Dakota, who has been testing senior athletes at state and national Senior Games events for the past six years. 

A unique aspect of providing the SAFE is the regular involvement of student physical therapists. “Physical therapy students often initially think that working with older adults might be less challenging, but after testing just a few athletes you really see the students' perspectives change,” said Nowakowski. “It is a perfect service-learning activity that allows students to see the level of physical ability that can be maintained with aging when individuals stay active.”

Springfield College Doctor of Physical Therapy student volunteers who participated in the SAFE included one graduate student in the Doctor of Physical Therapy II cohort (second year) and four graduate students from the Doctor of Physical Therapy III cohort (third and final year). Recent alumni included Kayla Sokol, DPT'15, and Meghan Bradley, DPT'13, and physical therapist at Attain Therapy + Fitness in Springfield, Mass.

Walgreen's Pharmacist Kalani Hornbeak also was available to answer questions athletes had about their medications.  It was a great opportunity for interprofessional collaboration which benefited both athletes and students.  

Larry Libow, managing director of the Massachusetts Senior Games, was very supportive of having the SAFE at the Senior Games again this year and everyone involved was happy to report that it was successful event.

Those interested in the SAFE can email Kim Nowakowski (knowakowski@springfieldcollege.edu) for more information.