For release August 28, 2000

    Paula Briggs, an Exercise Physiologist and Clinical Assistant Professor at West Virginia University School of Medicine, Department of Human Performance and Applied Exercise Science, as well as Aquatic Director at Health South Mountainview Regional Rehabilitation Hospital attended the 2000 Aquatic Therapy and Rehab Institute Symposium held August 24-27 in Orlando, Florida.  At the symposium Paula was presented the national organization’s highest recognition, the Aquatic Therapy Professional of the Year Award. 

    The prestigious Aquatic Therapy Award recognizes outstanding international aquatic therapy professionals who have made notable contributions to the field.  Through their efforts the Aquatic Therapy and Rehab Institute, the leading national professional organization in multidisciplinary aquatic therapy, has reached new heights and broadened its scope of care and professionalism. 

    Paula teaches the aquatic therapy curriculum, introduced in January 1999, at West Virginia University as a special topic in the Division of Exercise Physiology under the direction of Rachael Yeater, Ph.D.  West Virginia University was the first university in the nation to offer a curriculum in aquatic therapy.  The curriculum is a special emphasis area in Exercise Physiology consisting of fifteen semester credit hours with a concentration in Aquatic Therapy.   Aquatic Therapy students complete a 200 hour internship in the Health South Mountainview therapeutic pool under Paula’s supervision. 

    West Virginia University serves as a test site for the Aquatic Therapy and Rehab Institute’s national certification exam.  This four-hour exam provides an opportunity to attain a most important credential in communicating a level of knowledge and expertise essential for working with patients and clients in aquatic therapy programs effectively and safely.  In May, 2000 one hundred percent of the WVU Exercise Physiology students who took the Aquatic Therapy Curriculum passed the test and became certified aquatic therapists.  The national rate for successful completion is 75%. 

    In addition to designing and implementing the Aquatic Therapy curriculum at West Virginia University, Paula has published several articles in professional journals and made national and international presentations on the topic.  This year Paula co-presented at the Aquatic Therapy symposium with Justin White, a doctoral student in the Exercise Physiology Program, on  “Fibromyalgia  Research/Application."  The presentation covered Justin’s research findings in lecture format followed by Paula’s demonstration in the pool to teach aquatic therapy techniques that address the diagnosis of fibromyalgia.  In the past, Paula co-presented with Guyton Hornsby, PhD on the topic of aquatic exercise for people with diabetes. 

    Paula has worked at Health South Mountainview Rehab Hospital as director of the therapeutic pool since the hospital opened in 1991.  She designed and implemented the in-patient and out-patient aquatic therapy protocols and started the community aquatic wellness program to provide fitness for people with special needs.  Paula teaches water safety classes and is a trainer for life-guard instructors as well as water safety instructors with the American Red Cross.  She serves on the Red Cross Health and Safety Services Committee of the Mountain Laurel chapter.  Paula serves on several committees of the Aquatic Therapy and Rehab Institute, including the Advisory Board. 

    Paula is the first Exercise Physiologist to win the award.  She views the honor as an opportunity to assist other Exercise Physiologists in finding roles in rehabilitation, as well as fitness programs.

Paula Briggs
West Virginia University 
Dept. of Human Performance and Applied Exercise Science
School of Medicine
P.O.  Box 9266, Morgantown, WV 26506

WVU Exercise Physiology School

Aquatic Therapy Curriculum


Therapy and Beyond: Aquatic Therapy for Spinal Cord Injuries  is a production of West Virginia University.  All rights reserved.  

© West Virginia University, 1999



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