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Shirley A. Sahrmann, PT, PhD, FAPTA

Shirley A. Sahrmann, PT, PhD, FAPTA, is professor of physical therapy, of cell biology and physiology and of neurology at Washington University School of Medicine. Sahrmann is being honored for nearly 50 years of clinical practice excellence in physical therapy.

As a clinician, Sahrmann’s approach is described as the perfect blend between humanism and scientific inquiry. In particular, she excels at successfully diagnosing and treating patients who have complicated impairments that have not responded to previous therapy attempts. Because of her skill, she is consulted frequently by practitioners of many disciplines within the School of Medicine and beyond.

Sahrmann has had a world-wide influence on the practice of physical therapy through her seminal contributions to the approach to diagnosis and intervention selection. She has been a national leader in defining movement as the core focus of the field; in addition, she was among the first to classify movement impairments into diagnostic categories and to promulgate the use of a systematic examination strategy that allows for effective intervention selection and delivery.

Sahrmann earned her bachelor’s degree in physical therapy from Washington University in 1958. She worked as a physical therapist at Deaconess Hospital and later Washington University, then joined the university faculty in 1961. In the early 1970s she returned to Washington University as a student to earn a master’s degree and PhD  in neurobiology. She gradually moved up the faculty ranks, joining several departments, and became a professor in 1998.

Over the years, Sahrmann has shared her expertise through her service on numerous professional boards at the national and state levels. She has received five major awards for practice excellence from the American Physical Therapy Association, including its highest honor: the Mary McMillan Lecturer Award. At Washington University, Sahrmann has been recognized with the Washington University Program in Physical Therapy Alumni Award and the Distinguished Faculty Award.

Published: 03/23/2008