Facilitation of psychomotor skill acquisition of entry-level physical therapy students in a distance eucation format
Brueilly, Kevin E.
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The educational process of a physical therapist is one that requires many psychomotor skills to be transferred from the teacher to the student in order for that student to one day be an effective health care practitioner. A faculty shortage within physical therapy education limiting the availability of instruction has prompted the question if these necessary psychomotor skills can be transferred through an asynchronous web-based education platform, thus increasing the availability of education to entry-level physical therapy students. The main purposes of this study were to determine if entry-level physical therapy students instructed through an asynchronous distance learning environment can acquire and perform a psychomotor skill common in physical therapy practice effectively and safely as compared to students being prepared through traditional lecture and lab instruction, and to determine if subject/patient gender pairing has any impact upon the subject’s ability to acquire and perform the psychomotor task. Secondarily, the study investigated if relative size of subject to patient affects the ability to assess assistance levels or maintain safety when lifting. Assessment occurred through a comparison of each subject’s estimated assistance amount to the actual measured amount during lifting and through video analysis of lifting posture. A randomized block design was utilized, and data analyzed by use of a multivariate analysis of variance and correlation study. Students instructed in an asynchronous web-based method demonstrated significantly improved estimates of physical stress associated with lifting (safety) when compared to the face-to-face instructional group (p <.05). In addition, female subjects assisting male patients to stand demonstrated significantly decreased measures of lifting posture when compared to males lifting females or those subjects lifting patients of their same gender. Additionally, a significant (fair) positive correlation was found between those subjects larger in size than the patient they were lifting and the subject’s ability to maintain a safe lifting posture. The study results suggest that students of physical therapy acquire and perform the psychomotor task of the sit-to-stand maneuver more safely when instructed in a web-based asynchronous method than when instructed in a traditional face-to-face lecture followed by lab method. Additionally, the study results suggest that female students and those students lifting patients larger in size than themselves should remain vigilant in maintaining a safe lifting posture so as to reduce the propensity for lifting self-injury.