Marcia Thompson, PT, DPT, DSc

Assistant Professor of Physical Therapy

As a 30 year clinician prior to my transition to academia, I believe that learning becomes meaningful when the sciences and the evidence are linked to a tangible outcome.  As a core faculty member with major responsibility for clinical application, I have chosen to bring learning to life with as much integrated client contact as often as feasible within the lab setting.   A firm believer in case example, I have found in my classes that the kinesthetic value of even a limited amount of time actually ‘touching’ or ‘feeling’ a patient relative to a particular impairment or construct is of the greatest value.  I believe in the power of technology to enhance collaboration and creative application of learning and I have consistently explored innovative and creative methods of instruction and pedagogy in my classroom.  I exercise continual self-reflection and demonstrate a flexibility that allows me to make the necessary adjustments to ensure student success both within and between semester activities.   

I believe in community partnerships, both within the clinical community and the chronic populations who require our services.  I like to engage and facilitate engagement of our students in patient support groups, working to address the needs and concerns of those groups.  This results in a culture of mutual support which enables me to call on those groups for volunteerism and participation in instructional support, such as classroom activities, lab practical exams, video case vignettes for use in exams or in labs. This provides rich options for integration of learning within the patient care management courses.  I frequently design opportunities for inter-professional collaboration and education for enhanced learning. 

In addition, learning is facilitated when you as the educator are predictable and approachable.  I essentially believe that our Doctor of Physical Therapy students are emerging new colleagues in the student phase of their career; thus I model professional behaviors and treat them with respect, and I expect professionalism, personal accountability, and respect in return.  When their behaviors are not conducive to this relationship, I believe that it is our responsibility as educators to identify potential reasons (culture, ethnicity, life bias or experience) and to facilitate a change rather than apply a behavioral label.  I have experiences in teaching first-generation college students and in teaching within a diverse cultural and ethnic environments. 


  • Doctor of Science (DSc) Advanced Neurologic Physical Therapy 2012, Rocky Mountain University of Health Professions (UT) 
  • Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) 2004, University of the Pacific (CA) 
  • Bachelor of Science (BS) Physical Therapy (1983), Russell Sage College (NY) 
  • Continuing Education includes multiple competency-based certifications in neurologic practice (reference CV) 
  • Advanced Competencies in Vestibular Rehabilitation and Vestibular Test Interpretation (Emory University/Herdman  
  • Adult NDT (Neuro Developmental Treatment) Certification 
  • Functional PNF Certifications, Institute of Physical Art 
  • Complete Spinal Cord Injury Management; Incomplete Spinal Cord Injury Management.  Woodrow Wilson Rehabilitation Center. 

Clinical Experience/Expertise 

Dr. Thompson has more than 35 years of clinical experience, practicing across the lifespan and all settings.  In her clinical history she has managed multi-disciplinary neuro rehab services in several large hospital systems and has started two successful balance programs in hospital based outpatient settings utilizing advanced technology. From 1999 - 2008 she served as the Director of Clinical Education for a medical equipment company that focused on the diagnosis of balance & falls, educating educate clinicians in the integration of balance testing technologies into effective patient management strategies.  From Nov 2009 to Feb 2011 she served as the Director of Clinical Services for a multi-site balance diagnostic center (Tucson and Scottsdale AZ), providing clinical services, direction and oversight to developing state of the art facilities.  She was also a consultant educator for Dr. John Epley as he brought his clinical inventions through NIH funded validation research and to the marketplace.  She was an Assistant Professor at Fresno State (2012-2017), teaching and pursuing clinical research within the neurologic curriculum and clinical practice within the neurologic pro-bono clinics. 

Her clinical focus continues to be in the areas of geriatrics, neurology, and vestibular dysfunction, with a focus on fall risk identification and management and she provides pro-bono patient care within the chronic neurologic-impaired community.   

She has been an active member of the Neurology Section and the Vestibular & Balance Special Interest Groups (SIGs) of the American Physical Therapy Association.   

Scholarship/Research Interests 

Dr. Thompson’s scholarly agenda is focused to the investigation of postural control and fall risk in mature and aging community dwelling adults, with and without neurologic disorder, to determine underlying aspects and mechanisms, Investigation of fall risk is utilized clinical, posturographic and inertial measurement tools.  She is a contributing author in Umphred’s Neurologic Rehabilitation textbook (Editions 5,6; 7th pending), co-author of the chapter on the Limbic System. She has presented her collaborative scholarly work, along with faculty-led student research projects, both at the state and national levels in PT, ATC, Geriatrics and Neurosciences. 


Neurology Section Best Graduate Student Abstract 2014 Journal of Neurologic Physical Therapy. 38(2):146-147, April 2014.    




Peer Reviewed Publications: 

(Hall) Thompson, M. American Physical Therapy Association (2001). Guide to Physical Therapist Practice. Alexandria VA, American Physical Therapy Association.  Coordinated/facilitated writing of the draft version of Practice Pattern 5A:  Primary Prevention/Risk Reduction for Loss of Balance and Falling. 

Published Abstracts of Peer Reviewed Presentations: 

Blitzer D, Lamirande K, Mounga M, Ruhl K, Thompson MJ, Silar S, Blessing J; The Effects Of A Community-Based Multidimensional Group Exercise Program On Forward And Backward Walking In Individuals With Mild To Moderate Parkinson’s Disease. PPTA Annual Conference, October 2018 (pending presentation)   

Thompson MJ, Avanessian S; The Relationship Between Footwear, Somatosensory Status And Performance Of Key Components Of Static And Dynamic Balance As Measured By Inertial Movement Units (IMUs); PPTA Annual Conference, October 2017 

Thompson MJ, Blitzer D, Donovan M, Jarvis K; The Effects Of “On” Versus “Off” Medication States On Forward And Backward Gait Velocity And Stride Length In Individuals Diagnosed With Mild To Moderate Parkinson’s Disease Between The Ages Of 50-80: A Meta-Analysis; PPTA Annual Conference, October 2017 

Avanessian S, Thompson MJ, Voelz K; The Relationship Between Footwear, Somatosensory Status And Performance of Key Components of Static and Dynamic Balance as Measured by Inertial Movement Units (IMUs); APTA Combined Sections Annual Conference Feb 2016 Anaheim, CA.  

Gill, A; Thompson, MJ; Trueblood, PJ; Rivera M.  The Identification of Fall Risk in Community Dwelling Older Adults on the mCTSIB Through Instrumentation with Wearable Inertial Measurement Unit; APTA Combined Sections Annual Conference Feb 2016 Anaheim, CA. 

Thompson, MJ, Trueblood, PR, Jackson CGR; Clinical Vs. Instrumented Balance Test Comparisons to Identify Fall Risk in Community Dwelling Older Adults, Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise. 46(5S): 235-243, May 2014 

Strauch S, Jackson CGR, Thompson MJ. Coles M; Comparing Fall Risk of Older Adults in a Community-based Fitness Program to Non-participants; Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise. 46(5S): 223-227, May 2014 

Gill A, Avila R, Thompson MJ, Trueblood PR; Clinical Versus Accelerometry-Based Tests of Fall Risk in Older Community Dwelling Adults. (2121); Journal of Neurologic Physical Therapy. 38(1):26-99, January 2014.  

Neurology Section Best Graduate Student Abstract 2014 Journal of Neurologic Physical Therapy. 38(2):146-147, April 2014.    

Thompson, MJ, Trueblood, PR; Clinical vs. Instrumented Balance Test Comparisons to Identify Fall Risk in Community Dwelling Older Adults. (2982); Journal of Neurologic Physical Therapy. 38(1):26-99, January 2014. 

Thompson, MJ; Instrumented Gait Analysis to Differentiate Patients with Mild Cognitive Impairment. Neurorehabil Neural Repair, May 2014; vol. 28, 4: pp. NP1-NP25. 

Thompson, MJ, Wrisley DM, Cavanaugh JT, Umphred D; Identification of Fall Risk in Community Dwelling Older Adults Using Non-Linear Analysis of Head Sway. Journal of Neurologic Physical Therapy: December 2008 - Volume 32 - Issue 4 - pg 210-219. 

Thompson MJ, Gobert D; Practice and Billing Trends within Specialty Balance and Vestibular Programs: A Summary of Survey Results. Journal of Neurologic Physical Therapy. 33(4):224-232, December 2009. 


Book Chapters 

(Hall) Thompson, M. Author/Co-Author, The Limbic System: Influence Over Motor Control and Learning, in Umphred DA (5e 2006, 6e 2012, 7e 2019 pending). Neurological Rehabilitation, Mosby-Year Book, Inc.

Contact Info

Dr. Marcia Thompson, PT DPT DSc

Assistant Professor




Doctor of Physical Therapy Program at Alvernia University is accredited by the Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy (CAPTE), 1111 North Fairfax Street, Alexandria, Virginia 22314; telephone: 703-706-3245; email:; website: If needing to contact the program/institution directly, please call 610-568-1546 or email

For more information regarding the process of accreditation, please contact the:

Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education
1111 North Fairfax Street
Alexandria, VA 22314
Phone: 703-706-3245

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