Providing training to help prevent falls

Tank Bhatt; Researcher of the Year

“I am inspired by the research process and by the opportunity to directly impact men and women who are at risk for falls,” says Tanvi Bhatt. ­(Photo: Jenny Fontaine)

Clinical Sciences
Rising Star

To Tanvi Bhatt, assistant professor of physical therapy in the UIC College of Applied Health Sciences, the research journey is just as important as research results. That is why she has spent her career enthusiastically pursuing lab-based research and is an uncommonly young researcher to hold two National Institutes of Health R01 grants simultaneously.

“I thrive on a challenge,” said Bhatt, who is an expert in fall prevention training. “I am inspired by the research process and by the opportunity to directly impact men and women who are at risk for falls.”

Bhatt says that her field of research is becoming more popular, in part, because previous approaches to fall prevention — exercise or prolonged physical therapy, for example — are difficult to sustain in the context of the average person’s daily life.

“Ten years ago, no one came to poster presentations on slip-perturbation training. Now people are interested and I can see the field igniting in this direction,” Bhatt said. Looking to the future, Bhatt would like to see her research make a case for annual fall prevention training to be considered just as vital as a yearly preventive exam.

“It would be great if our lab equipment could be in every clinic and in every gym and available to all, even the healthy and fit,” she said.

Bhatt has published nearly 50 scholarly manuscripts, 35 since her appointment as a assistant professor.

Shane Phillips, professor and associate head of physical therapy, nominated Bhatt for the award.

“Dr. Bhatt is a dedicated scholar who demonstrates excellent potential to establish herself as a next generation scientist, mentor and teacher,” Phillips said. “She is at the forefront of the national movement to understand and prevent injuries associated with falls in the elderly and people with neurological insults.”

“I view this recognition as a beginning, not an end,” said Bhatt, who credits her achievements to her PhD mentor Clive Pai; her department head, Ross Arena; her former department head Christina Hui Chan; Tony Szturm, who introduced her to perturbation training; her colleagues Shane Phillips and Alex Aruin; and her graduate students.

Bhatt is a licensed physical therapist and has a bachelor’s degree in physical therapy from the University of Mumbai, a master’s degree in rehabilitation from the University of Manitoba and a doctorate from UIC.

Watch Bhatt’s 3-minute talk on this research, delivered at SparkTalks, UIC’s take on faculty lightning talks.
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