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Neurologic Physical Therapy Program

The VA Eastern Colorado Healthcare System Neurologic Physical Therapy Residency Program is designed to offer licensed physical therapists an opportunity to advance their knowledge and skills in the area of neurologic specialty practice.

This clinical training will help prepare the resident for Neurologic Clinical Specialist (NCS) certification through the American Board of Physical Therapy Specialties (ABPTS) upon completion of the program, which is accredited by the American Board of Physical Therapy Residency and Fellowship Education (ABPTRFE).

Residents are employed full-time by the VA Eastern Colorado Healthcare System for the year-long program and thus must be U.S. citizens. Clinical training consists of managing a caseload of patients with neurologic involvement, mentoring sessions with highly experienced clinical staff (minimum four hours per week), as well as a didactic curriculum component (minimum four hours per week). Clinical training opportunities exist within Acute Care, Outpatient, Vestibular Rehab, Inpatient Rehabilitation, Spinal Cord Injury/Disorder Clinic, Multiple Sclerosis, ALS, Brain Injury and Stroke clinics. Residents will also have opportunities to participate in interdisciplinary patient rounds, journal clubs, staff in-service presentations, research projects, mentoring doctoral students, assisting in neurologic labs at the University of Colorado, and observing surgeries.

Program outcomes

100% graduation rate

100% ABPTS NCS pass rate on the first attempt

67% resident retention rate within the VA following graduation

Mission and goals

Mission statement

The VA Eastern Colorado Healthcare System’s Neurologic Physical Therapy Residency Program is dedicated to provide academic and clinical education that is required to produce advanced practitioners in the field of neurologic physical therapy. Graduates of the residency will contribute to the profession through advanced clinical practice, clinical research, and teaching which will all benefit the local community.

Program goals and objectives

1. To support the mission and core values of the United States Department of Veterans Affairs Eastern Colorado Health Care System, to improve the quality of care to veterans served by advanced practitioners.

  • The Neurologic Physical Therapy Residency Program will provide training in evidence-based neurologic specialty content for a veteran population of all ages to improve physical function and quality of life.
  • Resident productivity meets clinic standards.
  • Residents will provide high quality of care to our veteran population.

2. Provide learning opportunities through clinical modules to improve residents’ knowledge and skill in neurologic specialty content and to develop clinical reasoning and evidence based practice.

  • Provide learning experiences in three modules which encompasses all practice settings required by the Neurologic Description of Residency Practice. Module I Outpatient Neuro; Module II inpatient Rehab; Module III SCI/D.
  • Provide learning experiences in all primary health conditions required by the Neurologic Description of Residency Practice.
  • Resident will achieve at least a 70% score on the live patient examinations.

3. The Physical Therapy Residency Program will achieve and maintain accreditation through the American Board of Physical Therapy Residency and Fellowship Education (ABPTRFE).

  • Annual reports will be completed and submitted by deadline and will demonstrate compliance with residency quality standards.
  • Residency Advisory Committee meets at least quarterly to review didactic, mentoring, and clinical experiences making improvements as needed.
  • Achieve reaccreditation following initial accreditation.

4. The Neurologic Physical Therapy Program will provide a curriculum in a neurologic specialty that includes advanced practice concepts.

  • Provide curriculum and training that addresses all components of the neurologic Description of Residency Practice in an evidence-based neurologic specialty content.
  • Provide a minimum of 300 educational hours per quality standards.
  • Graduates will successfully pass the Neurologic Clinical Specialist Certification Examination administered by ABPTS.

5. The Neurologic Physical Therapy Residency Program graduate residents will contribute to the profession through advanced clinical practice, clinical research, teaching/mentoring, and service.

  • Graduate residents will be competent mentors and provide teaching and/or mentorship in a neurologic specialty to doctoral students, post-professional residents, or post-professional therapist.
  • Graduate residents will be consulted as neurologic physical therapy subject matter experts and offer exceptional patient management and care representative of a ABPTS neurologic specialist.

6. The Neurologic Physical Therapy Program is sustainable.

  • Attract qualified applicants with neurologic experience who demonstrate a passion of the neurologic specialty.
  • Maintain adequate size faculty of neurologic clinical experts for mentoring and didactic instruction.
  • Provide graduate residents opportunities to stay within the Department of Veterans Affairs to provide high quality care to our veteran population and opportunities to mentor in neurologic residency programs.
  • Apply and receive resident stipend(s) from the Office of Academic Affiliations.
  • Receive funds from out PMRS department to purchase curriculum.


The didactic curriculum will be comprised of webinars from The Neurologic Physical Therapy Professional Education Consortium (Neuroconsortium), MedBridge webinars, LSVT BIG and NCS prep sessions. The webinars will prepare participants for successful completion of the NCS by improving skills in clinical reasoning, movement analysis, assessment, and intervention in patients with neurologic related disorders.

The NCS prep sessions will implement current research and case studies lead by our residency faculty. This will prepare residents to practice evidence-based medicine, differential diagnose, and identify more serious disease processes where referral to a medical doctor would be warranted. The selected webinars and NCS prep sessions have been scheduled with the appropriate clinical modules to coordinate didactic topic with primary health conditions treated by the resident.

Clinical mentoring will occur weekly with faculty in each of the clinical practice settings which include but are not limited to Acute Care, Outpatient, Inpatient Rehabilitation, Vestibular Rehab, Spinal Cord Injury/Disorder Clinic, and Brain Injury. Didactic learning will occur weekly with faculty including lectures, labs, and discussion. It is estimated that approximately 30 hours a week will be dedicated to direct patient care with the remaining 10 hours available for educational experiences including mentoring (minimum four hours) and didactic learning from faculty (minimum four hours), independent study (two hours), surgery observation, journal clubs, research projects, and mentoring of doctoral physical therapy students.

How to apply

Admission requirements

  • US citizen
  • Applicant must have a degree from CAPTE accredited program
  • Successful/satisfactorily completed National Physical Therapy Examination
  • Applicant must obtain PT license prior to beginning the program (may be obtained from any state).

Application procedures

To view our program profile on ABPTRFE website please visit:

If you have or will meet requirements prior to residency start date you may apply using the APTA Residency/Fellowship Physical Therapist Centralized Application Services (RF-PTCAS):

Should you have any other questions please contact Jeffrey Youngberg at


PT Residency Program director

Jeffrey Youngberg, PT, DPT, OCS, FAAOMPT

Dr. Youngberg received his Doctorate of Physical Therapy degree from the University at Buffalo in 2004. He achieved his Orthopaedic Specialization from the American Board of Physical Therapy Specialties in 2007 and recertified in 2017.

Dr. Youngberg’s clinical experiences lie primarily in outpatient orthopaedics in a hospital system and in occupational health before coming on board to VA Eastern Colorado Health Care System in 2008. He graduated from the Manual Therapy Institutes Manual Therapy Certification and Fellowship program in 2011 and achieved Fellowship status from The American Academy of Orthopaedic Manual Physical Therapist later that year. Dr. Youngberg developed The VA Eastern Colorado Health Care System Orthopaedic Residency Program in 2013 and serves as physical therapy residency program director, clinical faculty and mentor of the program. He is also residency program director of our Neurologic and Geriatric Residency Programs, which were both developed in 2018. He currently serves as adjunct faculty for the Doctor of Physical Therapy Program at the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus, and is actively involved in physical therapy research through the University of Colorado.

PT Neurologic Residency Program coordinator

Sarah Lange, PT, DPT, NCS

Dr. Lange received her Doctorate of Physical Therapy Degree from the Northwestern University Physical Therapy and Human Movement Science Program in 2013. Following graduation, she practiced in an inpatient rehab facility prior to beginning a neurological residency program at The James A. Haley VA in Tampa, Florida. Following completion of the program in 2015, Dr. Lange accepted an outpatient neurological position within the VA Eastern Colorado Healthcare System. She achieved her Neurological Specialization from the American Board of Physical Therapy Specialists in 2016. More recently, she has developed neurologic programs at VA Eastern Colorado Healthcare System, including advancements in vestibular rehab for veterans, LSVT BIG opportunities for individuals with Parkinson’s in addition to a newly developed PD Multidiscipline team. Dr. Lange is a clinical instructor and serves as clinical faculty for the University of Colorado.

Clinical faculty

Erica DiScipio, PT, DPT

Dr. DiScipio received her Transition Doctorate of Physical Therapy degree from The University of Montana in 2015 and Master of Science in Physical Therapy from the University of Colorado in 2003. Prior to working as a physical therapist in the Inpatient Rehabilitation Department at the VA Eastern Colorado Healthcare System since 2003, she gained experience working in various practice settings including inpatient and outpatient rehabilitation, long-term care, and home health. Dr. DiScipio was employed as a certified nurse’s aide at Craig Hospital and in a home health care setting for 10 years prior to becoming a physical therapist. Dr. DiScipio is the lead PT for the inpatient rehab unit at the Rocky Mountain Regional VA Medical Center primarily specializing in neurologic conditions including cerebral vascular accident, spinal cord injury, brain injury, Parkinson Disease, multiple sclerosis, less common neurological diseases, as well as amputee rehabilitation. She is a member of the APTA and the Academy of Neurologic PT. Dr. DiScipio is a certified clinical instructor, mentoring students from the University of Colorado and Regis University.

Kelly Szamborski, PT, DPT, NCS

Dr. Szamborski received her Doctorate of Physical Therapy Degree from Washington University in St. Louis in 2008. Following graduation, she practiced in inpatient neurologic rehab, acute, and sub-acute care at the Edward Hines Jr. VA Hospital in Hines, Illinois, primarily treating patients with CVA, ABI, PD, acute MS flares, and amputations. While at the Hines VA she also served as the SCCE for the affiliated PT and PTA student programs. She achieved her Neurological Specialization from the American Board of Physical Therapy Specialists in 2015. Dr. Szamborski is a member of the APTA, the Academy of Neurologic PT, and the Federal APTA section and is a certified clinical instructor. She has had poster presentations at the PVA Summit and the International Symposium on Gait and Balance in Multiple Sclerosis.

Brooke Hjeltnes, PT, DPT, NCS

Dr. Hjeltnes graduated from Sage Graduate School in Troy, New York in 2010 with her Doctorate of Physical Therapy degree. She has been a practicing physical therapist for over 10 years. Dr. Hjeltnes received her NCS in 2013. She is the Lead Inpatient PT at the Spinal Cord Injury and Disorders Center within the Rocky Mountain Regional VA Medical Center. Prior to coming to the VA Eastern Colorado Healthcare System, Dr. Hjeltnes worked at Craig Hospital in Englewood, Colorado, treating patients with brain and spinal cord injury, and at Sunnyview Rehabilitation Hospital in upstate New York treating patients with TBI, CVA, SCI and other various neurological diagnoses. Dr. Hjeltnes has co-presented at the APTA CO conferences in April 2016, October 2017 and 2018, as well as presentations at the Academy of Spinal Cord Injury Professionals (ASCIP) conferences in September 2015, 2016, and 2018.

Financial Fact Sheet

Frequently asked questions

What is the cost of the program?

There is no cost associated with the program however there is a nominal cost associated with the APTA Residency/Fellowship Physical Therapist Centralized Application Service Required to apply for the program. If you are selected for the residency program you will become an employee of the VA Eastern Colorado Healthcare System for the duration of the residency.

How much will I be paid?

Salary is determined by VA Central Office and is preset. The program salary is currently $58,448. Salary is subject to change or fluctuates as determined by Office of Academic Affiliation at VA Central Office.

What benefits will I be eligible for?

Benefits will include 13 vacation days along with accrual of 4 hours of sick leave per pay period.  It will also include 10 paid federal holidays, health benefits, vision, and dental benefits.

How long is the program and when does it begin?

The program is 12 months and is scheduled to begin the first week of August with completion the following August.

How many residents do you accept?

At this time we are accepting two residents into the neurologic residency program per year.

How many hours a week will I spend treating patients?

Mentoring sessions with clinical staff average a minimum of four hours per week, didactic curriculum component averaging a minimum of four hours per week, and independent study averaging two hours per week. Please be advised that these are only estimates and that actual time in mentoring and didactic studying may change at the discretion of the department. The remainder of the time will be dedicated strictly to patient care. It is highly anticipated that the resident will need to reserve time outside of work duties for preparation for the board exam during this training.

What clinic will I be able to experience?

  • Inpatient/Acute care
  • Inpatient rehab
  • Outpatient
  • Vestibular Rehab
  • Spinal Cord Injury/disorder
  • Brain injury

What will my schedule be?

While your schedule is subject to change depending on the needs of the department it typically will be from 7:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. and may include weekends/weekend days from time to time.

Does completing the residency guarantee me a job?

While residents in good standing will be employed for the duration of the residency program the VA maintains no obligation to retain the resident beyond the length of the residency program.  Residents will be encouraged to apply for a position should there be openings after they have completed the residency program.

When would I be eligible to sit for the neurologic board certification exam?

Residents will apply in July of the year they are in the residency program and will sit for the exam February or March of the following year; a year earlier than would be possible without completing a residency.  Residents are responsible for all application and testing fees.  More information on application deadlines and testing dates is available at American Board of Physical Therapy Specialties (ABPTS).