Lasting connections

DPT AlumniDuncan Evans, his dog Pheonix and his fiance Estey RuppalBack in August 2013, the department wouldn’t have known that orientation would be the start of the relationship between Estey Ruppal and Duncan Evans. Now graduated and planning a wedding, we were able to link up with the alumni — to reflect on their time in the program and see what they are up to now.

Over the course of the program, Evans and Ruppal grew close to each other and their cohort.

“Meeting my future wife and creating lifelong friendships with my classmates, as well as professors, are some of the great things that happened during the DPT program,” Evans said.

Reminiscing, Ruppal said, “Our group of friends did everything from studying together to celebrating afterward. It was great to have a big cohort of people that had the same goals in mind.”

Evans and Ruppal now live in South Carolina with their dog, Phoenix. Ruppal is a therapeutic pain specialist at the Anderson VA Community Based Outpatient Clinic within the Columbia Veterans Administration Health Care System, and Evans is a physical therapist for the Kansas City Royals through ATI Physical Therapy.

At the clinic, Ruppal has implemented a chronic pain program that includes therapeutic yoga and pain neuroscience education. She also provides lectures for the MOVE program — a VA-wide weight management health promotion program and a VA shared medical appointment for patients with diabetes.

“UF’s DPT program was very research oriented and I have found that having a good understanding of statistics really helps when it comes to applying the evidence in the clinic,” Ruppal said.

Currently, she and a colleague are working on a retrospective correlational study regarding veterans with chronic pain. Joel Bialosky, PT, PhD, FAAOMPT, OCS, clinical associate professor, is a co-author and Ruppal will be presenting the study as a poster presentation in May.

Evans he has been with ATI Physical Therapy since his residency training in 2016, and he has worked with the Royals baseball team since February. He is currently a part of ATI’s APTA Fellowship Program, which is an on-site fellowship for physical therapists to interact and train with leading-edge clinicians, educators and researchers in the physical therapy field.

“Prior to Fellowship beginning, we were using wearable sensors to collect data on external load in high school and college baseball players as we tracked them through their rehab throwing progressions with the ultimate goal of using that data to inform better throwing programs,” Evans explained.

The department is always impressed to hear stories like Ruppal’s and Evan’s — our former students create bonds that last much longer than the three years that they’re here at UF, and it’s these purposeful connections that we’re so proud of.

“The DPT program has opened doors for me to create great relationships with professors and mentors whom I continue to keep in close contact with,” Evans said. “But most of all, it’s helped shaped the way I practice and implement research into my clinical practice.”