Holding considerable expertise in physical therapy, orthopedics and fitness, Donna B. Bernhardt Bainbridge, PT, EdD, was inspired to her career after hearing someone give a presentation about the field while in high school as well as by her experiences taking care of her grandfather. First earning a Bachelor of Science in physical therapy from Boston University in 1967, she began her career as a staff physical therapist at Children’s Hospital Medical Center, Riverside Hospital, South Bay Physical Therapy and New Port Hospital between 1967 and 1973. In 1973, she became a supervisor in the physical therapy department at the Children’s Hospital Medical Center as well as an instructor at Simmons College, roles she held until 1980.
After obtaining a Master of Science in physical therapy from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 1982, Dr. Bainbridge joined the university as a physical therapy instructor from 1982 to 1983. Going on to join Boston University, she worked as a clinical assistant professor and director of the out-patient clinic with Sargent College and an assistant professor at the MGH Institute of Health Professions between 1983 and 1989. In 1989, she became an assistant professor, program director of physical therapy, and supervisor of clinical services at the rehabilitation center in Sargent College.
Earning a Doctor of Education in human movement from Boston University in 1990, Dr. Bainbridge opened Rockies Sports Rehabilitation in Montana in 1991, where she remained until 1999 when she became director of practice of the American Physical Therapy Association. In 1992, she joined the University of Montana, where she was clinical affiliate faculty until 1994. She returned to the university in 2002 as the research project director until 2007 and has served as an adjunct professor in the College of Health since 2018. Furthermore, she has also been active as the owner of High Peaks Physical Therapy & Fitness Consultation and the global clinical adviser for Special Olympics International since 2002.
Active with World Physiotherapy as well, Dr. Bainbridge has been on the steering committee of the Network on Health Promotion in Life and Work since 2009 and the chair of the Network on Intellectual and Developmental Disability since 2011. She has also donated her skills to Blue Cross/Blue Shield and the American Lung Association in Boston. Professional memberships of hers include the American Physical Therapy Association, the American College of Sports Medicine and the American Association of Developmental Medicine & Dentistry.
The recipient of several grants from the University of North Carolina and the Foundation for Physical Therapy Research, Dr. Bainbridge has been presented with the Mary Clyde Singleton Award as well as the prestigious Albert Nelson Marquis Lifetime Achievement Award. Having had a long and varied career in the field of physical therapy, she is particularly gratified to have been able to work in so many different areas, from research to teaching to consulting and administration. She is also incredibly proud of having spent over 50 years in the field. Looking toward the future, Dr. Bainbridge does not wholly know where she will be going next, save that she wanted to continue working with the Special Olympics and teaching.