School of Health Professions

First student to graduate from the PhD Health Sciences program to continue research on prosthesis use among veterans

Roland Paquette III, PhD, MPAS, PA-C, first student to graduate from the PhD in Health Sciences program

The first graduate of the PhD in Health Sciences program plans to continue his research on lower extremity prosthesis use among veterans.

That graduate, Roland Paquette III, PhD, MPAS, PA-C, is a practicing physician assistant and was an assistant professor in the Department of Physician Assistant Studies from 2017 through May 2024. He recently joined the founding faculty to create the Physician Assistant Studies program at Baylor University as a clinical associate professor and director of outcomes and assessment. Paquette continues to hold a clinical appointment in the Department of Emergency Medicine in the Joe R. and Teresa Lozano Long School of Medicine and practices in the emergency room at University Hospital.

In March, Paquette defended his dissertation, “Barriers and facilitators of lower extremity prosthetic use to affect health disparities in veterans.” Paquette uses prostheses as a bilateral transfemoral amputee, having been injured in while serving as a U.S. Army Special Forces medic in Afghanistan in 2005.

“I decided to look at trying to improve veterans’ overall health after amputation of a lower extremity, and my theory came down to why not try to increase lower extremity prosthesis use if we can in a safe and medically indicated way,” Paquette said of this dissertation topic. “Because ultimately, we know that ambulating using prostheses is certainly a physical activity, and the answer to a lot of lifestyle-related disorders is physical activity.”

Paquette’s research revealed something he found baffling and plans to continue studying: Within a cohort of veterans receiving care from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs for at least one lower extremity amputation, the presence of pain within their amputated limbs or low back was associated with less likelihood of a degradation in their prosthesis use over time, contrary to what Paquette found in his review and meta-analysis of the general population after amputation.

The first paper resulting from Paquette’s research, “Duration, frequency, and factors related to lower extremity prosthesis use: systematic review and meta-analysis,” was published in Disability and Rehabilitation in 2023. 

Paquette’s success demonstrates the potential of the PhD in Health Sciences program, a collaboration between the Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences and the School of Health Professions, said Program Director Giselle Carnaby, PhD, MPH, CCC-SLP. 

“This graduate sets the bar for our program moving forward,” Carnaby said. “Roland's work is the beginning of a programmatic line of research addressing an unmet need in this area. Specifically, it offers direction to future studies investigating motivational and psycho-social aspects of prosthesis usage following amputation. The interaction (with) and contribution to military health cannot be overstated.”

Associate Professor Owen Hill, PhD, served as Paquette’s dissertation co-chair. He praised Paquette’s work ethic and the potential of his current and future research. 

“Any setback in terms of his personal project, he and I would meet, and then he would come up with what I consider the optimized solution, and then he would execute it immediately,” Hill said.

The PhD in Health Sciences program is a good fit for allied health professionals who want to develop research and advance their profession, Hill said.

“That is what the program can provide. You come in as a clinician and leave a clinician-scientist,” said Hill, who also serves as research director for the Department of Physician Assistant Studies in the School of Health Professions.

For information about the PhD in Health Sciences program, visit the program’s web page.

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