Neurological Physiotherapy Residency Program | VA Health Care Tampa

Dr. Amy Firestone, DPT, SCCE, Residency Program Director, PT Supervisor received a Master of Science in Physiotherapy from the University of South Florida in 2006 and joined the James A. Haley Veterans’ Hospital as a Staff Physiotherapist immediately upon graduation. She then obtained a PhD in Physiotherapy from Temple University in 2010. Her clinical experience has included: polytrauma / TBI, acute care, spinal cord injury, inpatient rehabilitation, orthopedics, and locomotor training. Dr Firestone has been a faculty member of the PT Neurology Residency since its inception in 2012 and has been a clinical specialist in locomotor training since 2013. In 2016, she became Clinical Education Site Coordinator (SCCE) and director of the orthopedic and neurological residency program for the physiotherapy department. She continues to serve at JAHVH in these ways, in addition to other duties, including as PT Supervisor, Chair of the Hospital Affiliation Committee, and a member of the Hospital Education Committee. She is also an adjunct professor and a member of the curriculum committee for the School of Physiotherapy at the University of South Florida.

Dr Sarah Weaving, PT, DPT, NCS received her PhD in Physiotherapy from the University of North Florida in 2013. She completed the James A. Haley VA Neurology Residency Program in 2014 and became a Certified Clinical Specialist in Neurological Physiotherapy. Dr Weaving has been a faculty member in the Neurology Residency Program since returning to the James A. Haley VA in 2015. She has clinical experience in acute care, inpatient rehabilitation, head trauma / multiple trauma, in spinal cord injury, in neurological gait and balance and currently serves as a mentor at the Vestibular and Post-Concussion Clinic. Dr. Weaving hosts the bi-monthly Lunch N ‘Learn sessions which are designed to enhance the residency experience by further linking the didactic and clinical aspect of the neurology residency program. Dr Weaving was named Neurological Mentor of the Year in 2018

Dr Samantha Michael, PT, DPT, received a PhD in Physiotherapy from the University of South Florida in 2010 and joined the James A. Haley Veterans’ Hospital as a Staff Physiotherapist in 2012. His clinical experience has included: Polytrauma / TBI, Acute Care, Injury of the spinal cord, inpatient rehabilitation, orthopedics, and vestibular and post-concussion rehabilitation. Dr. Michael has achieved several APTA accredited advanced certifications and clinical skills focused on the full spectrum of vestibular rehabilitation. She continues to advance the practice of her specialty in physiotherapy by being part of the faculty of the residency program in neurological physiotherapy. She is currently a content expert in vestibular and post-concussion rehabilitation, presenting these topics within the VA healthcare system and the Department of Defense.

Dr Bernice Braun, PT, DPT, NCS, received his doctorate in physiotherapy from the University of Florida in 2008. Immediately after starting his career at James A Haley VA with an interest in the neurological population. She received her clinical neurological certification in 2014 and became LSVT certified in 2018. In addition, she is a certified instructor of Adaptive Tai Chi.

Dr Will Haven, PT, DPT, NCS, received his MSc in Physiotherapy from the University of South Florida in 2004 and his PhD in Physiotherapy from Temple University in 2015. He received his major in Neurology from APTA in 2013. He is 15 years old. experience at JAHVH. Dr. Haven’s main interest is the spinal cord injury patient population. He has competed in the National Veterans Wheelchair Games as a coach and coordinator of weightlifting events for the past several years.

Dr Michael Firestone, PT, DPT, ATP received a Certificate of Physiotherapy Education from Cleveland State University in 1996. He received his Doctorate in Physiotherapy from St. Augustine University for Health Sciences in 2013. He is 23 years old. ‘experience at James A. Haley Veterans’ Hospital. . Dr Firestone is currently the Senior Physiotherapist at the Spinal Cord Injury Center (SCI) with over 16 years of experience in SCI. Dr Firestone is ATP (Assisted Technology Professional) certified and has extensive seating and mobility experience. Dr. Firestone was trained and certified in locomotor rehabilitation through the use of the Lokomat, manual locomotor skills and the use of several exoskeletal devices. Dr Firestone has coached the JAHVAH team at the National Veterans Wheelchair Games on several occasions.

Dr Karen Skop, PT, DPT, MRS serves as a faculty for the Orthopedics and Neurology residency program. She has worked in vestibular / balance rehabilitation, sports and orthopedics since 2000. This diversity of clinical experience makes her well suited to manage a population of complex concussion / mild TBI. She is currently working in our post-deployment / mild TBI program (PREP) as well as an outpatient vestibular clinic. Dr. Skop acts as a consultant throughout the hospital system to assist in the management of the “dizzy” clientele. She has successfully completed the 4 vestibular clinical skills sponsored by the APTA and is an active member of the orthopedic and neurological sections of the APTA. She is a nationally appointed member of the Vestibular Rehabilitation Clinical Practice Guidelines (CPG) Working Group, holds a role in the ANPT Telehealth Working Group, and is involved in the development of CPG for the VA. / DOD for the management of headaches. Dr Skop is an assistant professor at the University of South Florida and lectures nationally on the topic of TBI and concussion management. His current research interests include cervical, visual, auditory and vestibular dysfunction associated with traumatic brain injury, assessment and interventions.

Dr Mason McDonald, PT, DPT, NCS is a Certified Neurological Clinical Specialist who serves as a mentor to the Vestibular and Post-Concussion Clinic. He completed his neurology residency at James A Haley in 2018 and then completed a one-year fellowship at James A Haley to further specialize in the rehabilitation of vestibular dysfunction and mild traumatic brain injury.

Dr Jessica E. O’Connor, PT, DPT, NCS is a Certified Neurological Clinical Specialist who serves as a mentor in a variety of our neurological clinics. She completed her physiotherapy internship at James A. Haley VA Hospital in 2014 and has been on staff since 2015.

Dr Barbara Darkangelo, PT, DPT, NCS is a senior clinical physiotherapist for the acute multiple trauma and brain injury inpatient program at the James A. Haley VA Hospital in Tampa, Florida. She received her BS in Physiotherapy from the University of New England in 1996 and her PhD in Physiotherapy from Drexel University in 2006. She is an Assistant Professor at the University of South Florida, Morsani College of Medicine. , School of Physical Therapy & Rehabilitation Sciences. Dr Darkangelo has been awarded the APTA Neurological Clinical Specialty designation since 2007. Dr Darkangelo has over 20 years of experience treating patients after brain injury ranging from acute to chronic stage of recovery. She is actively involved in multi-site research to advance the intervention and assessment of brain injury with funding from CENC and PCORI.


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