Dr. Christopher Powers elected president of California Physical Therapy Association

PowersDr. Christopher Powers, associate professor in the Division of Biokinesiology and Physical Therapy, has been elected to serve as president of the California Physical Therapy Association (CPTA), which is a chapter of the American Physical Therapy Association.

Dr. Powers takes the helm of the organization at a critical point for the 77,000 members of the CPTA. The CPTA successfully lobbied for a law to allow Californians direct access to physical therapy services. Beginning on January 1, 2014, patients in California will no longer need a physician diagnosis in order to seek treatment by a physical therapist. The new law also changes the rules of ownership of physical therapy practices.

With that battle behind it, Dr. Powers noted that CPTA has a responsibility to help with the implementation of that law to ensure that patients, practitioners and insurance providers understand the changes moving forward.

“With the passing of the new law, it will be important to increase public recognition of physical therapists as direct access practitioners,” said Dr. Powers. “Also, we will need to work with insurance companies to obtain suitable payment for services rendered within a direct access environment.”

Dr. Powers joined the Division faculty in 1997, just a year after earning his Ph.D. in biokinesiology at USC. He was promoted in 2003 to associate professor and also holds joint appointments in the departments of radiology and orthopaedic surgery. He is also director of the program in biokinesiology.

His relationship with CPTA also dates back to his days as a USC graduate student. Dr. Powers’ first research grant, which funded part of the work for his dissertation, was awarded to him by the California Physical Therapy Fund. He has credited the organization with advancing his career and, at the same time, with advancing the entire profession through its support of researchers across the state.

“This grant provided me with the money necessary to complete my dissertation, which at the time was focused on better understanding the pathomechanics of patellofemoral pain. I am happy to say that I have been able to continue this line of research now for over 20 years,” said Dr. Powers. “Importantly, I was able to leverage this relatively small grant into a productive research career including more than 130 publications and over a million dollars in federal funding."

Dr. Powers is co-director of the Musculoskeletal Biomechanics Research Laboratory at USC where he continues his research on how altered kinematics, kinetics and muscular actions contribute to lower extremity injury.