Neurological PT Residency

The Virginia Commonwealth University-Sheltering Arms

 Neurological Physical Therapy Residency Program


 2021-2022 residency year

Jump start the next phase of your professional development by participating in the Virginia Commonwealth University - Sheltering Arms Neurological Physical Therapy Residency Program, a partnership between Virginia Commonwealth University Department of Physical Therapy (VCU), Virginia Commonwealth University Health System (VCUHS), and Sheltering Arms Rehabilitation Hospital (SA).

Virginia Commonwealth is a large academic level 1 trauma center and as such provides unique experiences that are rich and educational. Sheltering Arms is a recognized leader in the use of advanced technologies to improve outcomes for those patients with severe neurological insults.

Join our team of innovative educators and clinicians for a 1-year experience that spans acute care provided in an intensive care setting to outpatient experiences in the VCU Movement Disorders Center. This broad range of experiences prepares residents for the specialty examination in neurological physical therapy and receive an excellent salary and benefits as you gain advanced knowledge and skills in Neurological Physical Therapy.


Program Mission

The mission of the VCU-SA Neurological Physical Therapy Residency Program is to prepare physical therapy residents for advanced specialty practice.

The program is designed to provide comprehensive training in leading-edge assessment and treatment of individuals with neurologic impairments while promoting the core values of professionalism. This program will aim to produce advanced physical therapy practitioners who are able to provide care to individuals with complex neurologic disorders, teach, serve as a resource to the community and other health professionals, and contribute to evidence-based practice.

Attaining the knowledge and skills to be a certified neurologic clinical specialist will be accomplished via neurological clinical experiences throughout the continuum of care in a variety of settings at Sheltering Arms Rehabilitation Hospital and Virginia Commonwealth University Health System under the mentorship of neurological clinical specialists, along with didactic learning experiences in neurology with Virginia Commonwealth University teaching and research faculty.

Program Description

The residency is comprised of a network of community clinical partnerships that provide the resident with a wide variety of opportunities promoting enhanced clinical reasoning and exposing the resident to differing perspectives on care. The experiences are designed to achieve the vision of the program while preparing the resident for successful completion of the specialty exam. 

The one-year residency includes

  • Contributing to a clinical project that can be disseminated nationally (scholarship / research)
  • Contributing to an initiative aimed to improve the health of the community (service learning)
  • Promoting evidence based care (evidence based practice)
  • Learning through interprofessional collaboration and networking (interprofessional education)
  • Teaching in the entry level program or for professional development events (teaching)

Although residents are expected to contribute to and learn from each component of the program, residents are encouraged to design an experience that both provides a foundation for their continued professional development and challenges their professional growth.  The clinical mentors and residency faculty help guide the design of the resident’s individualized experience. 

Eligibility for Admission

  • Graduate from an accredited physical therapy program
  • Licensed as a physical therapist (or eligible) in the Commonwealth of Virginia
  • Member of APTA

RF PTCAS Application Requirements

  • Deadline for application: December 30, 2020
  • Internal Application Reviews: January 4 – January 8, 2021
  • Phone / Facetime / Skype INterviews: February 1 – February 5, 2021
  • Face-to-Face Interviews: March 1, 2021
  • Offer extended: March 22, 2021
  • Start date: July 26, 2021
  • Complete RF-PTCAS application
    • Employment History
    • License and CEU’s
    • Professional Memberships and Involvement
    • Background Information
    • Clinical Experience and Internships
    • Personal statement / essays
    • Volunteer History
  • Official transcripts from every PT US college and university attended
  • RF-PTCAS application fee
  • Letters of Recommendation (3)
    • Recommendations providing insight into clinical experience and qualifications for residency
      • Recent graduates (practicing less than 1 year) -– must include a recommendation from one of your clinical instructors and evidence of practice at “entry level” on the CPI
      • Practicing Clinicians – recommendations from professional colleagues are acceptable

Additional Requirements

  • Employment applications to each facility (timing to be after being chosen as the incoming resident)
  • Residency application fee
  • Curriculum Vitae

Ongoing Requirements

  • Evidence of APTA membership
  • Compliance with employment requirements of Sheltering Arms Rehabilitation Hospital and VCU Health System



Residency Director

Cheryl Ford-Smith, PT, DPT, MS

Board-Certified Clinical Specialist in Neurologic Physical Therapy 

Dr. Cheryl D. Ford-Smith is an Associate Professor in the Department of Physical Therapy, College of Health Professions at Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU) where she teaches Adult Neurological Physical Therapy among other courses. Cheryl is a practicing physical therapist with over twenty-five years of clinical and academic experience in neurological rehabilitation with specific expertise in the examination and treatment of individuals with neurological diagnoses and complex vestibular and balance disorders. She is a V2FIT Certified Competent Concussion Specialist. Her current research interest is in the effectiveness of vestibular rehabilitation methods for individuals with mild traumatic brain injury and post-concussion syndrome.

Dr. Ford-Smith received her undergraduate Physical Therapy degree from Old Dominion University, her Advanced Master’s degree from Virginia Commonwealth University and her DPT degree in 2007 from VCU.


Jaime Brooks, PT, DPT

Board-Certified Clinical Specialist in Neurologic Physical Therapy

Jaime has clinical experience across the continuum of care, including acute care, inpatient rehab, day program, and skilled nursing facilities. However, the bulk of her time as a therapist has been in the outpatient setting at VCU for the past 8 years with a focus on the neurological patient population. Jaime's areas of interest include LE amputees, CVA, TBI, and Parkinson disease, but she sees a wide variety of diagnoses in her current position. Her skill set also includes seating clinic. Jaime also enjoys working with the VCU PT Department as a lab assistant, guest lecturer, and clinical instructor on a regular basis.

Jaime completed her undergraduate degree at Mary Washington College in 2000, and completed her DPT at VCU in 2004. 


Zach Crump, PT, DPT

Board-Certified Clinical Specialist in Neurologic Physical Therapy

Zach holds a Doctor of Physical Therapy degree from Old Dominion University and has 8 years of experience as a staff inpatient Physical Therapist. He is a member of the APTA's neurology section and has been board certified in neurological Physical Therapy since 2015. He is a contributing author on the iWalk Clinical Practice Guideline, which is an evidenced based guideline on how to utilize advanced technology for neurologically involved patients. He serves as a knowledge broker, where he utilizes his time to develop/perform clinical research, conduct technology training, and develop extra practice programs for stroke survivors. He also has an interest for increasing racial diversity within the allied health care field and facilitates experiential learning opportunities for middle, high school, and college students at his work place.

He has a beautiful wife and three children that he gets to share life with. He enjoys running, poetry, good hip-hop music, and reading journal articles with a fresh highlighter.


Kelli Doern, PT, DPT, MSCS

Board-Certified Clinical Specialist in Neurologic Physical Therapy

Kelli Doern practices at the Sheltering Arms - Bon Air Center. She specializes in neurologic conditions including multiple sclerosis (MS). Kelli is a “Partner in MS Care,” a designation recognized by the National Multiple Sclerosis Society, and a Multiple Sclerosis Certified Specialist which is recognized by the Consortium of Multiple Sclerosis Centers. Kelli received her BS in Biology and Doctorate in Physical Therapy from The University of Iowa. She obtained the board certified Neurologic Clinical Specialty designation from the APTA in 2012.


Morgan Eppes, PT, DPT

Board-Certified Clinical Specialist in Neurologic Physical Therapy

Morgan has been with Sheltering Arms Outpatient Rehab since 2013. She is specializing in rehabilitation of neurologic disorders (Multiple Sclerosis, Parkinson’s disease, stroke, etc.) and currently part of the Multiple Sclerosis and Parkinson’s team at Bon Air. She is LVST BIG Certified which delivers a protocol specifically designed for physical rehabilitation of Parkinson’s Disease. She also specializes in gait recovery and orthotic assessment, including patients with amputations.

She graduated from JMU in 2009 with a Bachelor of Science degree, and then earned her Doctorate of Physical Therapy degree from Shenandoah University in 2013.

In her free time, she enjoys spending time with friends and family and checking out all the restaurants Richmond has to offer.


Bobby Hand, PT, DPT, MSCS

Board-Certified Clinical Specialist in Neurologic Physical Therapy

Bobby serves as the leader of the Parkinson’s disease clinical program at Sheltering Arms Rehabilitation. Prior to his move to Richmond in 2015, he served as a member of the therapy team at the Dan Aaron Parkinson’s Rehabilitation Center for Pennsylvania Hospital. He is a member of the International Movement Disorders Society and the APTA Academy of Neurology, where he serves as a mentor. He primarily focuses on treatment of patients with movement disorders and evaluating individuals for complex seating and positioning needs.

Bobby received his undergraduate degree from York College of Pennsylvania in 2011 and his doctorate of physical therapy from University of the Sciences in Philadelphia in 2014.


Amanda Lyons, PT, DPT

Board-Certified Clinical Specialist in Neurologic Physical Therapy

Amanda holds a Doctor of Physical Therapy degree from Wheeling Jesuit University and has 7 years of experience as a staff inpatient and outpatient physical therapist at Sheltering Arms Rehabilitation in Richmond, Va. She is a member of the APTA’s Neurology Section and became a board certified Neurologic Clinical Specialist (NCS) in 2016. Amanda is co-author of an article published in Occupational Therapy in Health Care titled, “Effects of Simulated Low Vision on Postural Adjustment to Changes in Center of Mass in Older Adults”. She is an APTA credentialed clinical instructor and is passionate about mentorship and professional development. Amanda received an Honorable Mention in Richmond’s OurHealth Magazine for “Best Bedside Manner” in 2017. In her free time, Amanda enjoys participating in outdoor activities, playing soccer and spending time with her Australian Shepherd, Patch.


Megan Murphey, PT, DPT

Board-Certified Clinical Specialist in Neurologic Physical Therapy

Megan has worked at VCU Health in inpatient rehabilitation since 2009. Her areas of clinical interest include treating patients with spinal cord injury, wheelchair prescription and positioning, stroke and traumatic brain injury. She became a board certified Neurologic Clinical Specialist in 2014. She has been a mentor for the residency program since 2015. She is a member of the American Physical Therapy Association as well as the Neurologic Section and Spinal Cord Injury Special Interest Group. In addition, Megan also participates annually in management of an overnight camp for adult survivors of traumatic brain injury that allows individuals with brain injury an opportunity for socialization and recreation as well as respite for their caregivers.

Megan received her undergraduate degree in 2006 from Virginia Tech and her Doctor of Physical Therapy in 2009 from Virginia Commonwealth University.


Stephanie Ross, PT, DPT

Board-Certified Clinical Specialist in Neurologic Physical Therapy

Stephanie has been with VCUHS since 2006. She has worked across the spectrum of care, starting in acute care in the transplant and cardiac units, then transitioning to inpatient rehab, where she worked with the Brain Injury and Spinal Cord Injury teams for 7 years. In 2012, Stephanie moved to Outpatient rehab and in 2016, was the first therapist to start in the NOW clinic.

Stephanie enjoys working with patients of all ages with neuro diagnoses. She has worked closely with her colleagues to expand service, the wheelchair clinic, and treatments for patients with spinal cord injuries and progressive disorders. Stephanie holds the distinction of being Board-Certified in Neurologic Physical Therapy through the American Physical Therapy Association. She is also certified for Balance Wear Fitting, LSVT Big, and Neuro Development Treatment. Stephanie received her undergraduate degree in Biology from James Madison University in 2001. She received her DPT from VCU in 2004.


Amber Walter, PT, DPT, NCS

Board-certified in Neurologic Physical Therapy

Amber has been a physical therapist at Sheltering Arms since 2007 and has served as a mentor since 2015. She has worked in the inpatient and outpatient settings and is currently an outpatient therapist, knowledge broker, and research coordinator. She enjoys working with patients of varying ages and neurologic diagnoses. She has experience serving people with complex conditions, chronic deficits, and progressive conditions. She recently coordinated two clinical trials at Sheltering Arms to investigate use of an exoskeleton. Amber also led a team to implement a clinical practice guideline for use of advanced technology for gait recovery at Sheltering Arms and continues to be passionate about clinical knowledge translation for functional recovery in people with neurologic injury or illness.

Amber is an APTA credentialed clinical instructor and became an APTA board-certified Neurologic Clinical Specialist in 2012. She received the Clinical Excellence Award in Neurologic Physical Therapy in 2018. She has enjoyed giving national and international presentations on her work at Sheltering Arms.

Amber holds a bachelor’s degree in psychology from Virginia Commonwealth University, and she graduated with a Doctorate in Physical Therapy from Old Dominion University in 2017.

VCU-SA Neuro Residency Program Graduate Outcomes


The VCU-SA Neuro Residency accepted the first resident in 2014. There have been 6 graduates of the program to date.


VCU-SA Neuro PT Residency Outcomes

Total # Residents


Current residents in program


Total # Graduates


Specialty exam candidates


Specialty exam pass rate

4/4 (100%)