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Widener Physical Therapy Professor Awarded National Science Foundation Grant

Dawn Gulick, professor of physical therapy.

Dawn Gulick, professor of physical therapy, was awarded a $222,255 grant from the National Science Foundation.

Chester, Pa. – Dr. Dawn Gulick, professor in the Institute for Physical Therapy Education at Widener University, was recently awarded the phase 1 Small Business Innovation Research grant of $222,255 by the National Science Foundation. The grant will fund the continued development of her invention, the Mobil-Aider. The FDA-approved and patent-pending innovative device is designed to improve joint mobility assessment through quantitative measures.

“This funding will support the further development of the Mobil-Aider by establishing its technical merit, feasibility and commercial potential,” said Gulick. “I am grateful to the National Science Foundation for this opportunity to strengthen and improve the Mobil-Aider’s function so that it may contribute to high-quality patient care and treatment.”

Developed by Gulick, the Mobil-Aider enhances consistency and reliability between clinicians by delivering quantitative, not qualitative, joint measurements. Musculoskeletal injuries affect nearly one in two adults in the United States and result in pain, swelling, and limitations in joint movement. The Mobil-Aider improves the traditional evaluation method of musculoskeletal injuries in the shoulder, elbow, wrist, knee, and ankle by allowing clinicians to operate the device between the patient’s skin and the clinician’s hands and receive immediate quantitative feedback.

Traditional treatment for musculoskeletal injuries consist of clinical assessments through qualitative measures determined by a clinician’s feel and touch of joint movement which can vary among clinicians. The Mobil-Aider removes inconsistencies by translating joint movement with numerical data that can be shared among care teams.

“On behalf of the School of Human Service Professions, I congratulate Dr. Dawn Gulick on receiving this distinguished grant,” said Robin Dole, dean of the School of Human Service Professions. “Dr. Gulick saw a need in the industry to improve joint mobility assessment and created a valuable instrument that will benefit clinicians, patients, educators and students. We are proud to support her vision for impacting health care and student learning.”

The Small Business Innovation Research program is a highly competitive three-phase program that encourages domestic small businesses to engage in federal research and development on products that have the potential for commercialization. Its mission is to support scientific excellence and technological innovation through the investment of federal research funds in critical American priorities to build a strong national economy. Gulick anticipates that the Mobil-Aider will continue to move through the development stages to enable her to apply for phase 2 funding approval and clinical testing over the next year.

Gulick joined the Widener faculty in 1996.  As a professor of physical therapy, she has written four books, submitted more than 50 peer-reviewed publications, and presented at more than 100 conferences. Prior to inventing the Mobil-Aider, Gulick developed the iOrtho+ app, an evidence-based orthopedic reference. 

Widener University is a private, metropolitan university that connects curricula to social issues through civic engagement. Dynamic teaching, active scholarship, personal attention, leadership development and experiential learning are key components of the Widener experience. A comprehensive doctorate-granting university, Widener comprises seven schools and colleges that offer liberal arts and sciences, professional and pre-professional curricula leading to associate, baccalaureate, master’s and doctoral degrees. Visit the university website,