Angier native returns to Harnett County to inspire research

When looking at Doug Powell’s résumé, one might wonder when he has time to sleep. He often asks himself the same thing. The Angier native recently returned to Harnett County to serve as an assistant professor of health professional studies and director of research for the College of Pharmacy & Health Sciences’ Doctor of Physical Therapy program at Campbell University.

Powell, who holds a bachelor and a master of science from East Carolina University and a Doctor of Philosophy from the University of Tennessee, has been an active contributor to his industry since completing his doctoral thesis in 2007. Since then he has completed over 85 research abstracts, served as a peer-reviewer for 18 different journals, and has, most recently, begun work on a concussion assessment smartphone application.

The app, which is still in development, is known as the Concussion Assessment, Measurement & Limitation System or CAMeL System for short. It will eventually allow anyone with access to a Bluetooth-enabled smartphone to test an individual for signs of a concussion or brain injury after suffering trauma. Powell hopes this app will make an impact especially on youth sporting events.

“We’ll be changing the face of the practice with the CAMeL app. We’re putting healthcare in the public’s hands,” said Powell.  “Just last year in North Carolina, 5 young people died as a result of going back into a sporting event after suffering a concussion. With the app, a coach or parent will be able to use this technology to assess if a player is concussed or not right on the sideline.”

Along with the CAMeL app development, Powell is making progress to establish the department of physical therapy as a leader in the research field, not only within the College of Pharmacy & Health Sciences, but within the University as well. 

“We have a blueprint of how to build a research center in a very collaborative manner. We’ve reached out to the department of public health and exercise science. We’ve also had discussions with faculty within the DO program,” Powell said.

State-of-the-art assessment labs and partnerships with many influential leaders in the field allow for Campbell’s physical therapy department to build a substantial database to reference as well as to inspire research projects that cover the physical therapy spectrum from Parkinson’s disease to traumatic brain injury to therapeutic rehabilitation. A Campbell student will be able to determine how things break in the body, how to repair those things when they break, and the science behind it.

Research will be driven by both students and faculty and will be primarily funded by grants. Approximately $620,000 in grant funding is currently being reviewed.

“We’re really at the forefront of knowledge in physical therapy and I’m excited to watch Campbell and our students succeed.”

When Powell is not writing grant proposals or conducting research, he volunteers as the assistant coach to the Harnett Central High School men’s soccer team.