Faculty Feature: Dr. Michael Borich, DPT, PhD

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I am an assistant professor in the Department of Rehabilitation Medicine and Division of Physical Therapy at Emory. I arrived at Emory at the beginning of 2014 from Minnesota by way of Vancouver, British Columbia. My research incorporates multimodal neuroimaging and neurostimulation approaches to investigate brain structure and function. The overarching aim of this work is to uncover the key neural substrates supporting motor control and motor learning to enable the design of optimal rehabilitation strategies to maximize recovery of function following neurologic injury. When I’m not in the lab, office or classroom, I am typically out exploring all that Atlanta has to offer.

What does being “green” mean to you?

To me, the concept of being ‘green’ is simple and straightforward. It means taking the time to consider the impact your decisions have on local and global environments and then choosing actions to minimize adverse impacts.

What do you do at work to support sustainability?

Without getting into the minutiae of all the steps taken to promote sustainable choices at work, I will say that I attempt to minimize my environmental footprint and emphasize choices that are self-sustainable. The most clear and obvious example is my decision to commute to work by bicycle (or mass transit during inclement weather) rather than by car. For me, this is a sustainable choice not only benefiting the environment in a modest way but it also benefits my physical health, my mental health, the convenience of my commute and even my bank account. Certainly there are other actions that consider sustainability including reducing paper usage, taking the stairs, recycling, etc while I am at work. But I see many of these actions performed by other members of the Emory community so I am happy to say they may not be as unique and interesting to hear about!

What do you do at home?

In conjunction with the previous question, I do not own a car so all travel in and around the city is done by bicycle or mass transit. In terms of sustaining my local community, I am an avid supporter of local businesses and farmer’s markets. Admittedly this is primarily for selfish reasons-the products are just better! In the home, I tend to minimize power and water usage at every opportunity. This includes avoiding use of heat and A/C, electric appliances and lights. I do also attempt to make sustainable choices in terms of quality and quantity of food I prepare and consume. I avoid wasting food at nearly all costs (even leftovers!) and try to maximize the yield on local produce purchased at the farmers market (e.g. canning vegetables). These decisions are not only positive for the local and global environments, they are also good for me. They offer a simplicity to life that is welcomed when it seems that the complexity of personal and professional life only continue to increase over time.

What do you think our “next steps” should be to promote sustainability in physical therapy?

I am most passionate about developing the next generation of PTs that are well-equipped to sustain excellence and excitement in their career. As educators, it is a responsibility to inspire actions that support this mission. I think the faculty here in the Division of Physical Therapy are experts in this area. Either that or we just have the best DPT students! Following as a close second priority, I think it is critical to promote sustainability of PT outcomes by empowering our patients. As PTs, we are highly skilled and provide excellent care but due to a number of internal and external factors, our ability to create lasting sustainable positive changes in our patients is limited. We need to continue to emphasize and target the role of the patient in maximizing their own therapeutic outcomes. If successful, I believe it will prove to be a successful strategy to create enduring positive change that results in sustained reductions in disability and optimal quality of life.