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Professional Resources & Education

Advancing Clinical Practice in Spinal Cord Injury

TIRR Faculty:

Julie Jennings, PT
Kristi McCormick Radfar, PT, DPT
Liza Criswell, OTR, ATP
Emily Potter, OTR, MOT
Conchita Sayago, PT, DPT
Erin Henry, OTR, MOT
Marie Beirne, PT, DPT
Heather Fishman, PT, DPT, NCS
Kathryn Nedley, OTR, OTD
Chris White, PT, DPT
Adele Bosquez, PT, DPT, NCS, ATC, LAT

Open to: PT, PTA, OT, OTA

Course Date: Saturday & Sunday, October 08-09, 2016

Time: Registration at 7:30, Course from 8:30-5:00 pm


TIRR Memorial Hermann Inpatient Rehabilitation – MHHS Greater Heights Hospital
South Tower Conference Center
1635 North Loop West
Houston, TX 77008

(I-610 and Ella Blvd, The Heights)
Parking available in Garage 2

(713) 867-2000

Class size: Open Registration

Required Pre-requisites:

  • Please go to: Click on the blue button at the bottom of the page that says ASIA Learning Center.
  • Attendees MUST complete Modules 1-4 of the ASIA Learning Center Modules, *Modules 5 & 6 are optional, but highly recommended. The attendee should plan for these modules to take up to 6 hours for learning prior to the weekend of classes.
  1. Anatomy
  2. Sensory
  3. Motor
  4. Ano-rectal
  5. *Scoring
  6. *Optional Testing

Target Audience

PT, PTA, OT, OTA Clinicians looking to advance their clinical expertise in Spinal Cord Injury Neurological Rehabilitation.


The focus of this course is to present best practices and practical insights from which physical and occupational therapists can develop a clinical framework to effectively manage persons with spinal cord injury or disease (SCI/D). Spinal cord medicine is a subspecialty for clinicians who practice in neurological and rehabilitation settings. We recognize that this subspecialty optimally requires intentional training and education provided by clinicians who have dedicated themselves to the care of persons with SCI/D. Our goal is to provide you with a core foundation from which to practice and also present education regarding emerging research and advanced technologies. This course format will include lecture-based presentations, video case presentations, hands-on lab sessions, and interactive dialogue. This course will offer concurrent lectures with labs topic so that you may choose the subject content that is most applicable to your needs.

Learning Objectives: Upon completion of this course, participants will be able to:

  1. Develop reasonable goals, with inclusion of adaptive devices as necessary, for patient transfers based on clinical observation and the patient’s level of injury.
  2. Clinically apply the principles of mobility progression regarding transfers to live patient examples in clinical practice.
  3. Synthesize knowledge gained to optimize independence in self-care for patient with tetraplegia
  4. Identify barriers and/or challenges and different assistive and/or adaptive devices to help optimize independence of patient with tetraplegia
  5. Understand various positions, techniques and assistive devices used to allow for increased access and independence with performance of bowel and bladder management
  6. Understand the role of the rehabilitation professional in facilitating the discussion of sexuality with patients & their significant others during the early stages of recovery
  7. Be able to recognize the prerequisite tasks, functional relevance, general principles and techniques for successfully negotiating a wheelchair over curbs, up and down stairs, wheelies, moving from tipped to sit, and floor and bottom of tub transfers.
  8. Discuss the effects of varying innervation patterns with different levels of SCI, on prognosis, on anatomy/kinematics of the shoulder complex, and its relationship to pain and dysfunction in the shoulder complex.
  9. Select and implement appropriate treatment strategies for the shoulder complex based on evaluation, implement, monitor, and modify based on client response to achieve optimal functional outcomes.
  10. Discuss respiratory anatomy and postural support model, perform multi-system analysis, and identify positioning strategies for optimal cardiopulmonary function.
  11. Perform airway clearance techniques, teach self-assisted cough techniques and create a ventilatory muscle training program.
  12. Participants will be able to describe two treatment paradigms for recovery following spinal cord injury.
  13. Participants will be able to compare and contrast NMES and somatosensory stimulation following spinal cord injury.

Assessment of Learning Objectives: Course evaluation, Pre and post test questions, Instructor reviewed lab demonstrations.

Visit the registration tab for hotel information.

Speaker Information

TIRR Faculty Information


Julie Jennings, PT
Program Manager for the Spinal Cord Injury Program

Julie Jennings is a physical therapist at TIRR Memorial Hermann Hospital in Houston, Texas and is presently the Program Manager for the Spinal Cord Injury Program. Julie has been a physical therapist for 20 + years and received her degree from Texas Woman's University, and later received Neurological Clinical Specialist certification from the American Physical Therapy Association in 2006. Julie has taught on a variety of topics in the field of SCI Medicine. She enjoys bridging the gap between laboratory research and clinical implementation. She has a keen interest in promoting recovery of upper extremity function throughout the continuum of rehabilitation after SCI. Julie has received several quality of life grants to implement services which promote recovery of function after SCI. She Julie enjoys travelling and anything that involves hearty laughter.

Speaker Disclosures & Conflicts of Interest:

  • Financial: TIRR Memorial Hermann Employee
  • Non-financial: Julie holds a leadership position with Academy of Spinal Cord Injury Professionals – Therapy Board
Emily Potter

Emily Potter, OTR, MOT
OT Clinical Coordinator for the Spinal Cord Injury & Specialty Rehabilitation Program

Emily Potter sustained a T11 ASIA A SCI in 2002 as a result of a MVA. Following two inpatient admissions at TIRR Memorial Hermann and learning about the profession of Occupational Therapy (OT), Emily decided to pursue a career in OT. She attended The University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio, graduating in 2008 with her MOT; she returned to TIRR Memorial Hermann as a Level II Occupational Therapy Student in January, 2008. After graduating with a Masters of Occupational Therapy, Emily again returned to TIRR Memorial Hermann as an Occupational Therapist where she has been treating patients with SCI since May, 2008. Emily serves as a mentor and Clinical Educator to OT students and staff, as well as an expert for the SCI team in the areas of bowel/bladder management, sexuality, psychological adjustment following SCI, adaptive driving, and use of adaptive tools & techniques to perform ADL/IADLs. Emily’s passion is to provide individuals with SCI, as well as their loved ones, with the knowledge and strength needed to live a fulfilling life following spinal cord injury.

Speaker Disclosures & Conflicts of Interest:

  • Financial: TIRR Memorial Hermann Employee
  • Non-financial: None reported
Heather  Zissman Fishman

Heather Zissman Fishman, PT, DPT, NCS
TIRR Memorial Hermann, In-Patient Physical Therapy Clinical Coordinator SCI / Specialty Rehab Program

Heather Zissman Fishman, PT, DPT, NCS is the Physical Therapy Clinical Coordinator for the Spinal Cord Injury, Specialty Rehabilitation, and Amputee Program at TIRR Memorial Hermann. She has a Doctorate in Physical Therapy from TWU, Houston and has been practicing for over 10 years. Heather is a Board Certified Neurologic Clinical Specialist, received her Neuro IFRAH certification, and is a certified clinical instructor. Heather has served as the primary mentor on the Spinal Cord Injury Team for TIRR’s Neurologic Physical Therapy Residency program. Heather has presented at the national level on topics related to spinal cord injury and professional mentoring. Heather loves to spend her free time with her husband, children and dog.

Speaker Disclosures & Conflicts of Interest:

  • Financial: Employment relationship with TIRR Memorial Hermann; her husband has relationships that are not perceived as a conflict of interest: Consultant Cook Medical (endoscopy), Med Advisory Board, Contributor UPToDate (esophageal strictures).
  • Non-financial: None reported
Kristi McCormick

Kristi McCormick Radfar, PT, DPT

Kristi McCormick Radfar, PT, DPT is a board certified physical therapist and active APTA member that has experience treating patients with neurologic disorders in the acute and inpatient rehabilitation settings for the past 6 years. She is a lead treating physical therapist at TIRR Memorial Hermann on the Spinal Cord Injury/Specialty Rehabilitation team for the past 4.5 years. Kristi obtained a bachelor degree in Kinesiology at Temple University in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in 2007, and received her Doctorate in Physical Therapy at The University of Miami in Miami, Florida in 2010. Currently at TIRR Memorial Hermann, Kristi performs evaluations and provides treatment primarily for patients with spinal cord injuries. She has further experience treating patients with other neurologic degenerative disorders such as Multiple Sclerosis, Parkinson’s Disease, and Guillian Barre. Kristi leads the spinal cord injury aquatic therapy group that occurs daily at TIRR Memorial Hermann. In addition to her role as a treating physical therapist, Kristi supports informal mentoring and formal teaching experiences, educating on the training of functional mobility in patients with tetraplegic and paraplegic spinal cord injuries.

Speaker Disclosures & Conflicts of Interest:

  • Financial: Employment relationship with TIRR Memorial Hermann
  • Non-financial: None reported
Liza Criswell

Liza Criswell, OTR, ATP

Liza Criswell, OTR, ATP, graduated from University of the Philippines in 1994, earning a Bachelor of Science in Occupational Therapy. Liza has been a Registered Occupational Therapist for over 21 years. In 1998, Liza began her employment with the TIRR system in Houston, Texas. Liza currently works in the role of Senior Clinical OT with TIRR Memorial Hermann treating adults and adolescents with Spinal Cord injuries, Brain injuries, Amputees and other Neurological disorders. Liza also serves as a Clinical Instructor for Level I and Level II OT students, and mentors new OT staff / other disciplines. Liza was awarded Employee of the Year in 2010.
Liza is an expert resource person for sexuality and bowel/bladder management for people with spinal cord injury. She has developed this topic of interest for many years and presented nationally on the subject of sexuality and SCI and OT’s unique and critical role. Liza also served as an expert reviewer for the SCI Clinical Practice Guidelines: Sexuality and Reproductive Health in Adults with SCI.

Speaker Disclosures & Conflicts of Interest:

  • Financial: TIRR Memorial Hermann Employee
  • Non-financial: Expert reviewer for SCI Clinical Practice Guidelines: Sexuality and Reproductive Health in Adults with SCI.
Conchita Sayago

Conchita Sayago, PT, DPT

Conchita Sayago has been a physical therapist for 7 years, focusing on neurologic and pediatric rehabilitation. She has worked at TIRR Memorial Hermann for the last three years as a Level III Physical Therapist in the Spinal Cord Injury and Specialty Rehab Inpatient Team and is a proud Spanish certified physical therapist. Conchita received her DPT from TWU in 2015, and a MPT from UTEP. Conchita received her c-NDT certification and training in May 2011; she plans on obtaining her NCS next year. Conchita specializes in treatment of patients with spinal cord injuries and other neuromuscular conditions, with special focus in the inpatient rehab setting. She strives to be a mentor, and assists in project development at TIRR including teaching educational series for spinal cord injury patients.
Conchita grew up in the Caracas, Venezuela and moved to El Paso, Texas at the age of 17. In 2013, Conchita and her young family moved to Houston, TX with the hopes to grow professionally and focus her career in neurological rehabilitation. Conchita is a proud mother of two young daughters. Her other interests include: dancing, teaching, arts/crafts, cooking and being a foster for rescue dogs. Since moving to Houston she has volunteers for Rehabilitation Services Volunteer Project (RSVP).

Speaker Disclosures & Conflicts of Interest:

  • Financial: TIRR Memorial Hermann Employee
  • Non-financial: None reported
Erin Henry

Erin Henry, OTR, MOT

Erin Henry, OTR, MOT, earned her Masters of Occupational Therapy from TWU in 1997. She worked at Quentin Mease for 2 years before joining the SCI Team here at TIRR 17 years ago. Her primary specialty is treating high cervical ventilator dependent patients, seating and mobility, and UE Amputee programs. She has developed many groups here at TIRR including SCI Functional Group for high tetras to address UE, hand, or mouth-stick skills. She is one of the group leaders for the Community Reintegration Program (CRP) for patients returning to the community for the first time post injury. For several years, Erin taught the Bowel, Bladder, Skin, and Sexuality patient education classes at TIRR. She routinely mentors new staff and participates in the student fieldwork education here at TIRR. Her passion is treating the SCI population and thinking outside the box with difficult patient issues.

Speaker Disclosures & Conflicts of Interest:

  • Financial: TIRR Memorial Hermann Employee
  • Non-financial: None reported
Marie Beirne

Marie Beirne, PT, DPT

Marie Beirne graduated in 2002 from University of St. Augustine, FL with a Doctorate in Physical Therapy. She returned home to New York where she started worked at Burke Rehabilitation Hospital. At Burke she treated patients who have suffered a stroke, spinal cord injury, brain injury, amputation, joint replacement, complicated fracture, arthritis, cardiac and pulmonary disease, and neurological disorders. During her tenure at Burke, Marie helped develop many different out-patient programs including, FES bike program, and revitalization of the Fitness Challenge Program, and Fit 4 Life programs. While working at Burke, Marie Beirne volunteered with many different community organizations including the Annual Wheelchair Games, Think First Program, The Amputee Support Group, Spinal Cord Connection, Annual COPD Day, Stroke Awareness Day, 2011 World Police and Fire Games, NYC Achilles Track Club and many more. Marie Beirne has given several guest lectures at New York Medical College, Mercy College, Texas Woman’s University PT / PTA Programs. Marie moved to Houston, Texas, and started working at TIRR in 2012 on the Spinal Cord/ Specialty Rehab inpatient team.

Speaker Disclosures & Conflicts of Interest:

  • Financial: TIRR Memorial Hermann Employee, TIRR Innovations Grant 2014
  • Non-financial: None reported
Chris White

Chris White, PT, DPT

Chris White, PT, DPT is a physical therapist at TIRR Memorial Hermann Hospital with 6 years’ experience on the inpatient Spinal Cord Injury and Specialty Rehabilitation team. During that time, he has been heavily involved in the NeuroRecovery Network (NRN), an activity based locomotor training program for individuals with spinal cord injury. Also, Chris serves as a member of the Robotic Exoskeleton team at TIRR Memorial Hermann, assisting with the design and implementation of research and training protocols for both the ReWalk and Ekso devices.

Speaker Disclosures & Conflicts of Interest:

  • Financial: TIRR Memorial Hermann Employee
  • Non-financial: None reported
Kathryn Nedley

Kathryn Nedley, OTR, OTD

Kathryn Nedley is an occupational therapist working with individuals with spinal cord injury. She graduated from Creighton University in 2012 with her Bachelor of Science-Health Sciences and Doctor of Occupational Therapy degrees, and has been at TIRR since March of 2013. She enjoys working with patients on functional recovery of the upper extremity following spinal cord injury, participating in research related to those types of interventions, and teaching clinicians and students.

Speaker Disclosures & Conflicts of Interest:

  • Financial: TIRR Memorial Hermann Employee
  • Non-financial: Katie is an AOTA Evidence Exchange Reviewer

No Photo- Hotwheels

Adele Bosquez, PT, DPT, NCS, ATC, LAT

Adele Bosquez, PT, DPT, NCS, ATC, LAT graduated from TWU in 2010 with her DPT. She is a Physical Therapist on the Spinal Cord Injury Program. She runs multiple community re-integration programs including community dining. Adele is part of the Neuo-Rehab Network. She specializes in community re-integration following catastrophic injury. In her spare time, Adele enjoys volunteering in the community and traveling with family and friends.

Speaker Disclosures & Conflicts of Interest:

  • Financial: TIRR Memorial Hermann Employee
  • Non-financial: None reported

Speaker Disclosures & Conflicts of Interest:
Policy & Procedures exist whereby all speakers must disclose any relationships which may cause a conflict of interest. Any relevant financial and non-financial relationships will be disclosed via speaker agreement, written notification after agreement, and prior to presentation.

Saturday, October 08, 2016

TimeTopic & Activity
7:30 - 8:30amRegistration & Refreshments
8:30 - 10:00am

SCI Resources Lecture

10:00 - 10:15amBreak
10:15am - 12:15pm


  • PT Focused: Building Increased Independence with Bed Mobility and Transfers for Persons with Tetraplegia
  • OT Focused: Optimizing Independence with Activities of Daily Living for Persons with Tetraplegia
12:15 - 1:15pmLunch
1:15- 3:15pm

Bowel, Bladder and Sexual Dysfunction after SCI, Lecture

3:15 - 3:30pmBreak
3:30 - 5:00pm

Lecture & Lab

  • PT Focused: Advanced Functional Mobility Skills: Floor, bottom of tub, vehicle transfer and advanced wheelchair skills
  • OT Focused: UE Splinting and Orthosis for Increased Function after Spinal Cord Injury

Sunday, October 09, 2016

TimeTopic & Activity
7:30 - 8:30am Registration & Refreshments
8:30 - 10:30am

Shoulder Dysfunction after SCI, Lecture & Demonstration

10:30 - 10:45amBreak
10:45am - 12:30pm

Ventilation, Respiration, Positioning and Respirator Strength and Health after SCI Lecture & Lab

12:30 - 1:30pmLunch and Learn: Bone Health
1:30- 3:30pm

Emerging Treatment Paradigms and Neurorecovery in Rehabilitation after Spinal Cord Injury, Lecture

3:30 - 3:45pmBreak
3:45 - 4:30pm

NMES, FES Cycling and Somatosensory Stimulation after SCI, Lecture

4:30 - 5:00pm Wrap-up, Q&A, Evaluations

Instructional Methods Used: PowerPoint, lecture, video, group discussion, equipment demonstration



Participants must attend the entire course in order to receive CEU’s/CCU’s and course certificate. No partial credits will be given.
Instructional Level: Intermediate

OT: Memorial Hermann Health System is an AOTA Approved Provider of continuing education. This course is applying for 1.45 AOTA CEU’s. The assignment of AOTA CEU’s does not imply endorsement of specific course content, products, or clinical procedures from AOTA. AOTA Classification Code: Occupational Therapy Process- Intervention.

OT Approved CE

PT: Memorial Hermann Health System is TPTA Approved Provider of continuing education. This course is applying for continuing competence requirements for physical therapist and physical therapist assistant licensure renewal in Texas for 14.5 CCUs.

TPTA 2015


Course MHHS AttendeeNon-MHHS Employee
Any Course Day 1$75$175
Any 2 day course $150$300
Register for any 3 or more courses at the same timeReceive a $75 discountReceive a $100 discount
Register for all 8 courses at the same time (*discount no longer applies)Receive a $150 discount for registering for all 8 classes. Total price when registering for all 8 classes, with discount applied, is $750.Receive a $250 discount when registering for all 8 classes. Total Price when registering for all 8 classes, with discount applied, is $1650.

Discounts applied when you register for 3 course or more, or when you register for all 8 courses.
Discounts automatically applied as courses are selected on registration.

Class Size: Registration is open to 40 participants.

MHHS employees must register with their MHHS email to receive the employee benefit.

Hotels Near Memorial Hermann Greater Heights Hospital

Hotels: Please inform the hotel you were referred by MHGH to receive discounted rates.

Hampton Inn & Suites I-10/Central
5820 Katy Fwy
Houston, TX

SpringHill Suites Marriott Brookhollow
2750 North Loop West
Houston, TX

Courtyard Houston Brookhollow
2504 North Loop West
Houston, TX

3800 North Loop West
Houston, TX

Hilton Garden Inn NW America Plaza
14919 Northwest Fwy
Houston, TX

La Quinta Inn Northwest
1102 Northwest Freeway
Houston, TX

Any questions, please contact:

Cancellations: Refunds will be granted if cancellation notice is received in writing no later than 14 calendar days prior to the course start date to If you register and do not attend, or do not fulfill the requirements of the class, your course fee will not be refunded. Cancellation of the event by TIRR Memorial Hermann will result in a full refund of monies received. TIRR Memorial Hermann is not responsible for the refund of travel or hotel expenses under any circumstances. TIRR Memorial Hermann reserves the right to cancel or change any programs for due cause. In the event of a cancelation, participants will be notified via email and contact phone number submitted in the registration.

Parking: Please refer to for information on parking. The closest parking is available in Garage 6 and is next to TIRR Memorial Hermann Hospital.

Registration for this event is now closed.