'Here to help people': Student finds purpose in UHCL Exercise and Health Sciences program
Recovering from a traumatic brain injury or disease can mean a lifelong journey of difficult treatment and rehabilitation. Because it can take years to return to a prior level of function, Disha Kapoor says it’s her mission to help those suffering have easier, more independent lives.
Kapoor, a native of Gujarat, India, already possesses an undergraduate and graduate degree in physical therapy but her passion for neurological science brought her all the way from India to the Exercise and Health Sciences program at University of Houston-Clear Lake.
“As a foreign student, I was able to find my way here,” she said. “It’s inclusive for everyone. It is not a place where you feel you are from ‘somewhere else.’”
She said it was her goal to work with neurologically impaired people. “Those who are functionally dependent, can’t stand, walk or grasp due to a brain injury or a disease such as Parkinson’s or stroke need to become independent again. This is what drives me. I want to learn from them and returning them to their prior level of function is what motivates me.”
While still in India, Kapoor said she was searching for an American university to begin her doctorate. “Eventually, I learned I had an interest in exercise science. Some friends of mine who are already here recommended that I come,” she said.
After researching UHCL’s Exercise and Health Sciences program, she decided she had found the right place. “In India, when someone has a brain injury, they become dependent on family members in the activities of daily living,” she said. “Here, I learned in the long term, brain-injured people suffer more from neurodegenerative disease in which they have cognitive impairment and attention deficit disorder. Those people suffer from inability to do even simple tasks. I’m learning to evaluate their cognition, attention, perception and short-term memory.”
Now a research assistant in the Health and Human Performance Institute, Kapoor works with neurologically impaired clients and uses a cutting-edge assessment and intervention tool called C3 Logix, an iPad app that includes a checklist of symptoms, a baseline assessment, and a follow-up assessment.
“It helps us document their injury, evaluate their level of injury, and helps us decide the prognosis,” she said. “It’s essential in neurological science. It also helps educate the patient as to his own progress.”
She said the use of this technology was not yet widespread; learning it has been just one of the advantages of being part of the Exercise and Health Sciences program at UHCL.
“It’s one of the many things I have learned here, and it’s been more than worth it to come here,” she said. “I don’t consider that I work here. I feel this is my duty and my responsibility. My job is not work. I am here to help people who seek help and make their life better.”
After she graduates in December 2023, Kapoor said she will sit for the physical therapy licensing exam and begin looking for a university to begin her doctoral program.
For more information about UHCL’s Exercise and Health Sciences program, go online.