Climbing to Scientific Success

— Richard K. Shields, PT, PhD, FAPTA, was first awarded a Foundation for Physical Therapy award in 1989 to look at the effect of different sized lumbar supports on people with spinal cord injury. After completing his PhD, Shields was lead investigator on a Clinical Measurement Core that was part of a larger project funded by a Foundation grant of $600,000 to establish the first computerized medical record in physical therapy in the United States. His work has been continuously funded by the National Institutes of Health for over 20 years. He currently has two large active grants, totaling $3.6 million, that support his molecular and systems approaches to improve health in people with spinal cord injury. In 2017, Shields was the recipient of the American Physical Therapy Association’s 47th Mary McMillan Lecture Award, a distinct honor to those who have dedicated their lives to the profession.

Select Foundation Grants and Scholarships Awarded

Richard K. Shields, PT, PhD, University of Iowa “Physiological, Histological, and Ultrastructural Analysis of Human Paralyzed Muscle”

University of Iowa “Effect of Lumbar Support Size on Pelvic Tilt and Seated Pressure Distribution in Individuals with Spinal Cord Injury”



  • Shields, R. K., Dudley-Javoroski, S., Sass, K. J. & Becker, M. (2018) “Benchmarking the Academic Physical Therapy Environment to Understand the Student Experience”

  • Tseng, S. C., Shields, R. K. (2017) “Limb Segment Load Inhibits the Recovery of Soleus H-Reflex After Segmental Vibration in Humans”

  • Becker, M., Dudley-Javoroski, S. & Shields, R. K. (2017) “Professionalism Values in Health Science Education: Self- and Peer-Assessment of Faculty, Staff, and Students”

  • McHenry, C. L., Wu, J. & Shields, R. K. (2014) “Potential regenerative rehabilitation technology: implications of mechanical stimuli to tissue health”

  • Shields, R. K. (2009) “Above board: clear bylaws support the research mission of the Foundation for Physical Therapy”