Barbara Knothe Burn Therapist Achievement Award

To provide recognition of Burn Occupational and Physical Therapists in conjunction with the OT/PT Special Interest Group of the American Burn Association and to further the rehabilitation and recovery of burn survivors everywhere.

This award will embody its mission through the following measures:

  • To acknowledge the performance of an outstanding Burn Occupational Therapist / Assistant or Physical Therapist / Assistant on a yearly basis for his or her unique and established contributions in burn care and rehabilitation.
  • To acknowledge continued therapist driven rehabilitation activities in both traditional and non-traditional research, educational and clinical endeavors.


History of the Award and Our Dedicated Burn Therapists

This award was developed as a result of the untimely death of a dear friend and dedicated burn therapist – Barbara Knothe, OTR/L, MOT, CHT. Barb died suddenly as a result of a fatal heart attack on March 5th 2001 (please see In Memoriam from the Journal of Burn Care & Rehabilitation article for additional details on Barb’s accomplishments). Barb had left behind the legacy of colleagues, students, burn survivors, family and friends. She had spent the better part of 20 years working as a burn therapist at both St. Agnes Burn Center in Philadelphia, PA and Temple Burn Center in Philadelphia, PA. She was an active member of the American Burn Association (ABA) as well as the American Society of Hand Therapists (ASHT), American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA) and Pennsylvania Occupational Therapy Association (POTA). She was a skilled clinician, artisan, and teacher and dedicated herself to the perfection of burn care and rehabilitation for all of her patients and students.

Barb had just begun to develop from a hard-nosed, treating therapist into a clinical researcher and educator both in the U.S. and abroad when her untimely death struck. She left behind numerous burn articles, research projects and clinical treatment ideas unfinished. More importantly, she left the burn community with a catastrophic void to fill. I, myself, was nothing more than a fledgling therapist and now was expected to fill the shoes of this giant in the burn community. I knew right away that I needed all the help I could get to ensure that I was providing the best treatment and outcomes for my patients – just as Barb had done for her entire career.

I went that same year with a relatively simple idea to the American Burn Association to find a way to memorialize Barb among her peers within the OT/PT Special Interest Group. I suggested my initial idea to some of Barb’s closest peers and colleagues which included Robin Zappin, Reg Richard, Michael Serghiou, Mary Jo Baryza, Sandy Fletchall, Merilyn Moore, Hope Hunter, Beth Franzen, Cindy Hayes-Lundy, Linda Ware and Linda Zellerbach. With the help of these dedicated individuals and the addition of some relatively newer members to the burn community including Ted Chapman, Lisa Forbes-Duchart and most notably myself, we formed the Barb Knothe Burn Therapist Achievement Award Committee. My initial idea was transformed into a broader concept to foster the clinical development of burn therapists and to promote research and collaboration among all therapists nationwide. That following year, in 2002, the first recipient of the Award was conferred. Each year since, the Committee has selected a therapist who has made significant contributions to the burn community and, like Barb, has dedicated themselves to continued research and rehabilitation of burn survivors.

Since 2002, the Barbra Knothe Burn Therapist Award along with the dedicated burn therapists ‘have met each year at the ABA Annual Meeting to discuss development of the Award and to recognize and plan for the following year’s Award and activities or subsequent years’ Awards – selflessly devoting their time and energy in true therapist fashion, without hesitation and with full, enthusiastic support.

In 2006, with the generous corporate and technical support of Mark E. Dillon, President of Bio Med Sciences Inc., we were able to continue the Award each year.  Mark, who also was a good friend of Barb’s, has helped us to exponentially to expand the Award and to further the support to all burn therapists nationally and internationally.  In 2008, this Award was included as part of the American Burn Association’s Awards and Presidential Address Ceremony and subsequently will be included as part of this most prestigious awards ceremony every year – further elevating the recognition and scope of this Award.

I can only speak from my own personal experience, but I have learned more than I could have ever imagined through my relationships with the members of this Award as well as the ABA. If not for their selfless giving as well as their inspiration, support, knowledge and dedication to develop and nurture this idea, this platform for therapist education and development would never have been achieved.

This award is a tribute to all of the amazing and life-changing accomplishments that the burn therapist brings to the burn survivors that they treat every day and will serve as an inspiration and foundation for new burn clinicians everywhere.

Jonathan Niszczak, MS, OTR/L


Criteria for Nomination for the Barb Knothe Burn Therapist Achievement Award

Scope: To recognize, on a yearly basis, the outstanding performance of an Occupational Therapist / Assistant or Physical Therapist / Assistant and his or her dedication, service and contribution to the realm of burn care and rehabilitation.

Criteria: Recipients of this award must meet the following criteria:

  • A licensed / registered Physical Therapist / Assistant or Occupational Therapist / Assistant
  • An active member and participant of the American Burn Association for at least 5 years
  • An active member within at least one of his or her practice discipline associations at either the national, state or regional level (i.e. AOTA; APTA) or another burn related organization
  • Practicing for a minimum of 7 years with at least 50% of his or her time specifically dedicated to therapist-driven burn care treatment, rehabilitation and research including supervision and direction of therapists’ and research.
  • Demonstrate commitment, dedication and service on a daily basis to the treatment, rehabilitation and management of burn injuries and their consequences.

Purpose: This award commemorates the spirit and commitment of Barbara Knothe, MOT, OTR/L, CHT, who suffered a fatal heart attack on March 5, 2001. Barb had dedicated over 20 years of service to the treatment of burn injuries and was an invaluable clinical instructor, mentor, teacher and above all, a lifelong friend to all with whom she made contact. This award is dedicated in her memory to all of the active burn therapists that embody the same drive and commitment as Barb.

Upon selection, the named individual will receive a plaque commemorating this honor. They will be recognized as part of the American Burn Association Awards session as well as Occupational Physical Therapy Special Interest Group meeting of the American Burn Association national conference. The recipient will deliver a brief speech to the OT / PT SIG meeting.  Additionally, a monetary award is provided which is funded by a gracious donation from Bio Med Sciences, Inc. and processed through the American Burn Association in recognition of this achievement.

Barb had grand visions of developing and performing research and clinical training modules, however these plans never meet their fruition. This memorial award will serve as an active foundation and inspiration for all of the great clinical PT’s and OT’s to be both clinical and research based in their daily practices and to serve as a resource for developing burn therapists to achieve their full potential.

The selection Committee will readily focus on the clinical merits and contributions of the nominees practice which provides the foundation for this award to honor outstanding clinicians in burn rehabilitation. The selection will also be based upon the completed nomination form and letters of recommendation submitted by any active member of the American Burn Association from any clinical discipline. Clinicians can nominate themselves, but should also obtain letters of recommendation to support the nomination.

Click here to download the Barbara Knothe Burn Therapist Achievement Award Nomination Form and submit a fellow clinician today!


The Barb Knothe Burn Therapist Achievement Award Past Recipients

2024 Rebekah Reishus Allely, OTR Washington Hospital Burn Center Washington, DC
2023 Trudy Boulter OTR, CHT, BT-C Children’s Hospital of Colorado Denver, CO
2022 Hope Hunter, PT New York Presbyterian Burn Center New York, NY
2021 Cynthia J. Hayes Lundy, PT Intermountain Burn Center Salt Lake City, UT
2020 Elizabeth “Liz” A. Rivers, RN, OT Regions Hospital Burn Center St. Paul, MN
2019 Beth Costa, OTR Harborview Burn Center Seattle, WA
2018 Ingrid S. Parry, MS, PT Shriners Hospital for Children Sacramento, CA
2017 Kristen L. Ause-Ellias PT, MPT Miami Valley Burn Center Dayton, OH
2016 Sandra Fletchall, OTR/L, CHT, MPA, FAOTA Firefighter’s Regional Burn Center Memphis, TN
2015 Helen D. Christians, MOT/L Legacy Oregon Burn Center Portland, OR
2014 Cheryl A. Hanley, OTR/L Shriner’s Hospital for Children Sacramento, CA
2013 Lisa Forbes, MSc, OT Reg (MB) Winnipeg Health Sciences Centre Winnipeg, MB
2012 Sydney Jane Thornton, OTR North Carolina Jaycee Burn Center Chapel Hill, NC
2011 Kim Walker, OTR Hermann Hospital Houston, TX
2010 Judith A. Carr, OTR Westchester Medical Center Valhalla, NY
2009 Linda C. French, PT & E. Tonas Kalil, PT, MGA Mid Atlantic Burn Camps Clarksville, MD
2008 Dana Nakamura, OTR/L, CLT, CLMC Wake Forest Univ. Baptist Medical Ctr. Wake Forest, NC
2007 Mary Jo Baryza, MS, PT, PC Shriners Hospital for Children Boston, MA
2006 Beth J. Franzen, OTR Regions Hospital Burn Center St. Paul, MN
2005 Merilyn L. Moore, PT University of Washington Burn Center Seattle, WA
2004 Michael A. Serghiou, OTR Shriner’s Burn Hospital for Children Galveston, TX
2003 R. Scott Ward, PT, PhD Intermountain Burn Center at the University of Utah Salt Lake City, UT
2002 Reg Richard, MS, PT Miami Valley Hospital Dayton, OH