UCA’s Twala Maresh chose to go into physical therapy because she wanted a career that gave her the ability to treat patients of all ages and various diagnoses. Because of her contribution and service in her field, Maresh was awarded the 2019 Arkansas Physical Therapy Association Distinguished Service Award at the fifth annual OPTimize Conference held Oct. 4-6 in North Little Rock.
“I was extremely honored. I had no idea that I had been nominated,” Maresh said.
The Distinguished Service Award is given each year to an individual who has contributed significantly to physical therapy in Arkansas in one or more areas such as public awareness, administration, education, patient care or research, according to the Arkansas Physical Therapy Association.
Maresh received her bachelor’s degree, master’s degree and her clinical doctorate degree in physical therapy from UCA. She is also an American Board of Physical Therapy Specialties board-certified clinical specialist in neurology physical therapy, as well as a certified assistive technology practitioner.
Maresh has put time and dedication into her line of work and in her desire to give back.
“I have been at UCA since 1996,” Maresh said. “I have contributed to the education of more than 1000 physical therapy students in the treatment of clients with neurological
Maresh believes that in the classes she teaches, she is able to provide a helpful and unique experience.
“As part of my classes, we provide pro-bono physical therapy treatment
and services, including custom seating and mobility evaluations, to individuals with
SCI (spinal cord injuries) [and] other neurological issues and amputations,” Maresh said.
Outside of the classroom, Maresh has also had the opportunity to present her research and techiniques to educate thousands of people.
“I have presented at a state and national level to educate physical therapists and clients in these areas as well,” Maresh said. “I am a member of numerous organizations that focus on public awareness in the areas of [SPI], seating and mobility as well as legislative issues.”
One particular goal that both Maresh and her husband are working toward is raising a puppy for the organization Canine Companions for Independence.
“I have had several clients over the years that have had service animals and they live independently or with little need for attendant care because of the service dog,” Maresh said. “So as a way to give back, we are raising a puppy that we hope will be given to someone that will benefit from his skills.”
Maresh hopes that her former and current students have learned from her teachings how important it is to practice safety and put their PT clients first.
“I absolutely love teaching and treating clients,” Maresh said. “At UCA, I have had the opportunity to do both.”
To learn more about the UCA Physical Therapy Program, visit uca.edu/pt.