Director of Physical Therapy Karen Abraham, Ph.D., received the Elizabeth Noble Award from the Section on Women’s Health of the American Physical Therapy Association (APTA) at the national convention in February in Indianapolis.
“Receiving the Elizabeth Noble Award of the Section on Women’s Health of the American Physical Therapy Association was a tremendous honor,” said Dr. Abraham. “I was humbled to be recognized for my contributions to women’s health physical therapy by my colleagues. I have been so fortunate to work with so many phenomenal individuals over the past 20 years since I joined the section.”
The award, the Section on Women’s Health’s highest honor, is named for section founder Noble. It is given to a member who provides “extraordinary and exemplary service to the field of physical therapy for women, or to the Section on Women’s Health of the American Physical Therapy Association,” according to the APTA website.
Award namesake Noble “was a driving force behind the development of the field of obstetric and gynecological physical therapy in the United States. She was the author of multiple books for both the lay public and the professional,” the website states.
Laura Scheufele, a friend of Abraham’s, presented the award. Abraham and Scheufele met during their physical therapy training in 1987 at the University of Maryland, and have worked on numerous projects together.
“Having her present the award to me made the occasion that much more memorable,” said Abraham. “A number of Shenandoah University Physical Therapy faculty and students as well as my husband, Paul, were able to attend the awards ceremony, which made it even more special.”
In her presentation speech, Scheufele noted that Abraham has spent years serving the Section on Women’s Health and working “as an advocate for the women’s health community. So many of the people who have worked closely with her on projects have commented that she has done her work with a quiet fortitude, never looking for accolades and with no expectation of recognition,” said Scheufele.
Letters of support for Abraham’s award nomination described her as dependable, dedicated, enthusiastic, passionate and supportive. The letters noted her strong work ethic and her ability to communicate well.
Abraham has been a member of the Section on Women’s Health of the APTA since 1996, and has served as a member of many of the section’s task forces and as an investigator in several grant-funded studies. She is a Virginia State APTA Delegate.
Abraham has served on the Specialization Task Force of the Section on Women’s Health of the APTA, the American Board of Physical Therapy Specialties (ABPTS) Specialty Council for Women’s Health Specialty Certification, and on the review boards of the Physical Therapy Journal (journal of the APTA), Spinal Cord and Anatomical Sciences Education. She is an Associate Editor and reviewer for the Journal of Women’s Health Physical Therapy.
She has brought physical therapy advocacy to a global community, serving as an ambassador for physical therapy to Haiti, India, The Philippines and Nicaragua.
Abraham holds a bachelor of science degree in physical therapy from the University of Maryland at Baltimore and a Ph.D. in anatomy and cell biology from the Brody School of Medicine at East Carolina University. She has completed the Education Leadership Institute Fellowship of the APTA. Abraham has served on the faculty at Shenandoah University since 2001 and as director of its Division of Physical Therapy since 2008.