Health sciences professor wins humanitarian award

Physical therapy and exercise can have a positive impact on cancer patients. That’s what one OU professor found while doing research to better the condition of women with breast cancer.

Jacqueline S. Drouin, a physical therapy professor, got an award for her research and for being the liaison, or spokesperson, to the world confederation from the American Physical Therapy Association (APTA).           

“The work is so joyful,” Drouin said. “I wanted to see how exercise affected cancer patients.”

Drouin received the Debbra Flomenhoft Humanitarian Award. It is awarded by the APTA’s oncology section to a member who has advanced compassionate rehabilitation practices and has furthered education on how cancer affects people.

Members cannot apply for the award; they have to be nominated by their peers.

Drouin has been working with breast cancer patients since 2007, so the board of directors for the APTA nominated her for the award this year to celebrate her years of hard work.

“I didn’t even know the award existed until I won it,” Drouin said. “It came as a complete surprise.”

The research Drouin did focused on how exercise affected women with breast cancer. The research initially received a lot of interest and she got to research in several different countries.

She found that exercise helped the patients have a more positive outlook and made them healthier overall. It didn’t cure the cancer, but it made the patients feel better than they would without it.

“It also reduced the chances of cancer reoccurringa second time if the patient continued to exercise,” Drouin said.

In eight of her publications, Drouin has received help from some of her students. She thinks it is important for them to see first-hand the impact they can make.

“I have a lot of my students working with me,” Drouin said. “I think it’s a great opportunity for them to see what they can do for the world.”

The students enjoy working withDrouin and the research.

“Knowing that Dr. Drouin has been given an award by her peers regarding this important sector of our profession is not at all surprising after having listened to her provide examples of her work outside the classroom,” Alyssa Trudeau, a graduate student in physical therapy, said. “She is no doubt deserving of this honor. Both her students and her patients are lucky to know her.”

Her students also said that she’s just as compassionate inside the classroom as she is in the field.

“She has been an outstanding professor,” Andrew Kirschbaum, a graduate physical therapy student, said. “She challenges and empowers her students to attain higher understanding of complicated subject matter.”

Looking toward the future, Drouin said that she wants to continue to work with the APTA and move her research to hearts.

She said that Americans have lots of opportunities to learn and she isn’t ready to give that up yet.

“People in the U.S. don’t realize that other countries don’t have the learning opportunities we have,” Drouin said. “I want to continue doing that.”