Erin Futrell, PT, PhD, MPT, OCS

Erin Futrell



Erin Futrell, PT, PhD, MPT, OCS

PhD '18

What year did you start the program? 2013

Erin has accepted a position as Assistant Professor in the Department of Physical Therapy at Springfield College in Springfield MA, where she will teach and build on her research of lower extremity biomechanics.

What are your prior degrees and from which institutions?
BS, Exercise Science, Summa Cum Laude, Georgia State University, 2003
MS, Physical Therapy, Georgia State University, 2007

What was your dissertation title?
"A Prospective Study of Two Interventions Aimed at Reducing Impact Loads in Runners during the program"

What was your research setting during the program?
: Irene Davis, PhD, PT, FAPTA, FACSM, FASB, SNRC Director
Lab: The Spaulding National Running Center (SNRC),
The SNRC is a combined research and clinical facility dedicated to understanding running-related and musculoskeletal injuries with a focus on prevention and providing the most effective evidence-based care.

On what was your research focused?
Approximately 50 million people in the US participate in running, and up to 79% of them will sustain an injury in a given year. Physical therapists often analyze and treat injured runners with gait defects, but it is unknown which interventions are most effective and efficient. I am interested in the ability of patients with running injuries to learn new gait styles aimed at reducing impacts.

Impacts have been linked to injury, and if we can reduce the magnitude or rate of impact, we may be able to reduce injury. However, it is unknown if patients who undergo gait retraining in a clinical setting can maintain use of a new gait outside of the clinic. Therefore, I aim to find the short and long-term effects of two gait-retraining styles known to reduce impact.

What publications or external presentations you have produced that are based on the research you have done while in the program?
Abstract submitted to American College of Sports Medicine, November 2014: Effect of Highly Cushioned Shoes on Ground Reaction Forces During Running (co-author) Will be published and presented at ACSM Annual Meeting, May 2015

What do you think is special about the PhD in Rehabilitation Sciences program here at the MGH Institute?
The Partners HealthCare umbrella creates an abundance of opportunity. Having access to Brigham and Women's, Mass General, and Spaulding Hospitals, and Harvard Medical School facilities and professionals creates a unique health education environment. 

The interdisciplinary seminar also exposes students to a network of professional researchers and ideas. If students are proactive in seizing these opportunities and resources, they will have a distinct advantage in starting a career as a professional researcher. The academic environment in Boston is rare and unique. The ability to take courses from so many outstanding institutions is a definite advantage over other PhD programs in the country. 

Why did you choose to come to this program rather than a doctoral research program in your specific profession?
This program had several appealing options. The first is the ability to continue working as a PT while earning my doctoral degree. The second is the focus on clinical outcomes research – I find this type of information much more helpful as a clinician compared to the more traditional scientific methodology. The third is the affordability. Finances were a large component of my ability to go back to school. The relationships fostered between institutions in Boston have allowed a minimal financial strain on me. 

What are your goals for the future after you graduate?
I hope one day to obtain a faculty position and educate future physical therapists. I also hope to continue clinical work in an adult outpatient orthopedic setting and to conduct research that presents information that is understandable and useful for clinicians.

    Video of Dr. Futrell's Research