HomeNewsArticle Display

Hospital acquires leading physical therapist

Lt. Col. John Childs, 81st Surgical Operations Squadron, demonstrates spinal manipulation for acute lower back pain on simulated patient Kevin Wait, a physical therapy clinic staff physical therapist.  (U.S. Air Force photo by Steve Pivnick)

Lt. Col. John Childs, 81st Surgical Operations Squadron, demonstrates spinal manipulation for acute lower back pain on simulated patient Kevin Wait, a physical therapy clinic staff physical therapist. (U.S. Air Force photo by Steve Pivnick)

KEESLER AIR FORCE BASE, Miss. -- The Keesler Hospital has gained a leading physical therapy researcher with the assignment of Lt. Col. John Childs to the 81st Surgical Operations Squadron's physical therapy department as  director of musculoskeletal research. He is the first to hold this position at the Keesler Hospital. He also continues to serve as an associate professor in the U.S. Army-Baylor University doctoral program in physical therapy at Fort Sam Houston in San Antonio.

Childs, who came to Keesler in July from "Fort Sam's" Army Medical Department Center and School, was a 1994 distinguished graduate of the Air Force Academy where he received a bachelor's degree in biology. He also earned a master of physical therapy degree from U.S. Army-Baylor University in 1996, a master of business administration degree from the University of Arizona in 2000 and master's degree in musculoskeletal physical therapy from the University of Pittsburgh in 2002. In 2003, Colonel Childs received a doctorate in rehabilitation science degree from the University of Pittsburgh.

The colonel said that at Keesler, he'll "continue to lead, grow and manage a portfolio of military relevant research projects designed to improve the musculoskeletal health of our Airmen and military health system beneficiary population across the Department of Defense."

For example, Childs leads a number of comparative effectiveness studies for conditions such as knee osteoarthritis and low back pain, two of the most common conditions experienced by MHS beneficiaries. Treating these conditions costs the MHS and VA billions of dollars annually in direct and indirect health-care costs and associated disability.

He's also enhancing the graduate medical education program in the Keesler Hospital's physical therapy clinic. This will provide cutting-edge clinical training to physical therapy students around the country who are attracted to Keesler to complete their internships because of the opportunity to be mentored by Childs and the highly-qualified clinical faculty he has recruited to join him.

He explained, "As a result, they'll be able to leverage the economies of scale that come with running a vibrant GME program, providing best-in-class clinical training and mentorship to their students while substantially reducing the dollars spent in physical therapy care that would otherwise have to be sent to the TRICARE network of civilian providers."

Childs has made many scientific presentations at national and international meetings. His research agenda is focused on injury prevention, the identification of subgroups of patients with musculoskeletal disorders, the development of clinical prediction rules to better inform diagnostic and treatment decision-making and comparative effectiveness research. He's received numerous research grants from federal and professional funding agencies and has published more than 100 peer-reviewed manuscripts in leading scientific journals.

A recent research award nomination noted Childs "has received more than $6 million from federal and professional funding agencies, clearly placing him as a leader within the military health system for securing highly competitive medical research funding. Most importantly, (his) research portfolio targets the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of high-volume musculoskeletal conditions that significantly interfere with military readiness and represent an enormous source of unnecessary costs and disability within the MHS."

He's also a member of a University of South Florida School of Physical Therapy research team recently awarded a more than $1.5 million from the Department of Defense for two musculoskeletal research projects intended to help wounded warriors and veterans lead full, productive lives.

A USF news release said, "The award will fund two major studies -- one investigating whether a specific exercise training regimen may protect against low back injury in combat soldiers and the second evaluating the best prosthetic foot to accommodate soldiers and veterans with below-the-knee amputations who wish to return to active duty.

Both two-year studies, about $715,000 each, are randomized controlled trials, considered the most reliable and impartial method of determining which rehabilitative treatments and adaptive devices work best. The research will test in military populations an exercise therapy and technologies that have already shown promise in civilians."

In addition, the colonel currently serves as an associate editor for both the Physical Therapy and Journal of Orthopaedic and Sports Physical Therapy journals.

Childs and his wife, Amy, are both Air Force Academy graduates and are the parents of five children.