TWU Associate Professor of Physical Therapy Wayne Brewer, PT, PhD (’14), MPH, OCS, CSCS, brings his passion for discovery and affecting change to everything he does—particularly his research and teaching.
Brewer, who works at the TWU Institute of Health Sciences-Houston Center located in the heart of the Texas Medical Center, the largest medical center in the world, currently is engaged in two research projects that could have major impacts in health care.
In collaboration with Mindy Patterson, PhD, RDN, LD, TWU assistant professor of nutrition, Brewer is conducting research on whether pea protein, a plant-based product, can be just as effective if not superior to whey protein, an animal product, in developing muscular strength and lean muscle mass. An eight-week resistance training program for young males, with half taking pea protein and half taking whey protein, is underway.
“Pea protein appears to provide additional health advantages in insulin production and the stabilization of glucose, and it can have an environmental impact as well since less resources are needed to grow plants than raise animals suitable enough to be consumed,” said Brewer.
Brewer also is conducting research on individuals who have below-knee amputations to determine the physical performance factors that relate to amputees’ perceptions of their ability to function. The goal is to develop a questionnaire specific to them for better assessment.
Working at TWU has given Brewer access to researchers and clinicians of high caliber across various types of medical specialties and enabled interdisciplinary collaborations for his research projects. The university also has given him the opportunity to pursue his other passions of physical therapy and teaching.
An attraction to physical therapy and a call to teaching
Brewer found his calling to physical therapy early in life.
“I always played sports as a kid and was always interested in health and science, so my mother suggested I become a physical therapist,” said Brewer, who grew up in Jamaica Queens, New York.
His interest in the field was solidified after he began following his grandfather to his physical therapy appointments, quickly befriending the physical therapists and volunteering there.
Brewer earned his BS in Physical Therapy and an MPH from the University of Pittsburgh and enjoyed a career as a successful physical therapist, but teaching was something he always enjoyed doing.
“As a physical therapist, you are constantly teaching your patients, but I wanted to teach the new generations of physical therapists and share with them my love of science, medicine and sports,” said Brewer. “The science aspect of it is especially important because as physical therapists, we are also scientists who never stop exploring new approaches and techniques.”
Brewer decided to attend TWU to pursue his PhD because it allowed him to keep working and continue his clinical practice to further develop his skills. Since his professors were physical therapists as well, they were able to guide him toward research projects that were in line with his clinical interests.
Brewer began teaching at TWU in 2014 and brings his 20-plus years of experience from clinical care into the classroom with real-life examples and scenarios to give his students information that’s relevant and not just didactic in nature.
“What I enjoy most about being a teacher is when a student comes back to me and says what I taught them was something they were able to utilize in their practice to understand what was going on with a patient,” said Brewer.
Believing in the value of experiential learning, Brewer has involved his students in his research projects, and in the past, many have gone on to give platform presentations at national conferences. Several students have been collaborators with him on published research papers as well.
“I think it is important to show students the value of research and how it can further the physical therapy profession,” said Brewer. “I’m grateful for the opportunity to share my love of learning with them.”
By Ray Willhoft
Marketing & Communication