Mission Gait Academy Launches Groundbreaking Certification Program in Gait Rehabilitation

Level II Course Available Now

Mission Gait Foundation’s Academy, based in Richmond, Virginia, has launched the first of its kind Gait Rehabilitation Specialist (GRS) Certification Program, offering physical therapists (PTs) and physical therapist assistants (PTAs) comprehensive training, certification, and inclusion in a searchable database designed to connect patients experiencing gait dysfunction with the qualified care they need.

In the United States alone, an estimated 23 million people suffer from gait disabilities. Gait dysfunction is one of the most frequently billed codes to health insurance companies. Yet, until now, no advanced education program has existed to offer specialized certification in its treatment to the nation’s nearly 230,000 physical rehabilitation therapists.

Given the number of people affected by gait disabilities, the lack of specialized training for PTs “is a real problem,” says David Lawrence, founder and CEO of Mission Gait, owner and practicing PT at Lawrence Rehabilitation – The Gait Center in Richmond, an adjunct professor at Old Dominion University, and guest lecturer at Virginia Commonwealth University. “We need to change that paradigm. It’s stunning that it hasn’t been done before.”

Mission Gait Academy serves as the educational arm of Mission Gait Foundation, which also oversees international missions that build capacity for prosthetic and orthotic rehabilitation in underserved countries. Funded by donors, some of whom are former patients, the foundation provides hundreds of educational videos for gait patients, caregivers, and health professionals on YouTube at no cost.

MGF’s Academy’s new certification program includes a foundational Level I course, which has been offered since 2018 and is open to anyone involved in gait rehabilitation, such as prosthetists and biomechanists. Level II, which launched May 17, serves PTs and PTAs who have completed Level I. The self-directed study is a series of five modules, including self-paced lectures, article selections, video supplements, and exams. Participants can register through the MGF website, www.missiongait.org/mission-gait-academy.

The courses are approved to meet the majority of states’ requirements for Continuing Education Units for PTs and PTAs, whose cost is typically reimbursed by employers. Those who earn certification will be included in a database of certified gait specialists, a resource Mission Gait has dreamed of establishing after years of receiving inquiries from amputees, stroke victims, and others around the country, who have been unable to find specialized gait therapy in their areas.

Aiming to empower the rehabilitation community to help patients with complex disabilities achieve their goals, MGF’s Academy hopes for gait rehabilitation to ultimately become one of the specialization certifications offered by the industry’s governing body, The American Physical Therapy Association.

Bethany Russell PT, DPT, Director of Mission Gait Academy