Susan_Silverman-PTSusan Silverman is excited to be a pioneer. She’s one of the few chosen for the new PhD in Rehabilitation Science program at UAB that started this fall. The program is a joint effort between the Department of Physical Therapy and Department of Occupational Therapy.

“I had visited the Lakeshore Foundation a few months before I finished my master’s degree in Movement Studies in Disabilities, and I knew I wanted to be involved with that organization,” said Silverman, a Rolling Meadows, Ill. native. “So I looked for a PhD program in Birmingham and was lucky to find that UAB was beginning a new program in Rehabilitation Science that seemed like a perfect fit.”

Silverman is an Athletic Trainer and Strength and Conditioning Specialist. She received her undergraduate degree in Athletic Training from Creighton University in Omaha, Neb. Working with disability sports has been her passion. She’s even had the opportunity to get to know the U.S. Paralympics Wheelchair Rugby team.

“Even though the players on the field may look different than your average Joe, they are elite athletes with a very unique set of skills, positive attitudes and a unique sense of team spirit,” said Silverman. “I feel like everyone should have the opportunity to participate in sports no matter what their ability level is.”

The PhD in Rehabilitation Science will allow Silverman to partner with multiple centers on campus including the Center for Exercise Medicine and the Center for Neurodegenerative Diseases. And she will work with the Lakeshore Foundation which is what brought her to UAB in the first place. She recently helped out at their Lima Foxtrot program for injured military personnel.

“I got to help teach a veteran who had lost both legs how to water ski,” said Silverman. “It’s experiences like that where you get to see someone overcome obstacles that make all the work that we do worth it.”