Christy M. Zwolski, PT, DPT, PhD

  • Physical Therapist III, Division of Occupational Therapy and Physical Therapy
  • Assistant Professor, UC Department of Pediatrics
Every child should have the tools to be the best mover they can be, for whatever level of physical activity they choose, from the playground to the elite sports field.
Christy M. Zwolski, PT, DPT, PhD



I am a Doctor of Physical Therapy specializing in pediatric sports medicine. My expertise is the care of young athletes who sustain lower extremity sports-related injuries. I am also passionate about caring for female athletes and young soccer players — from grassroots to elite.

I strongly believe that play, including all forms of sport, is essential to healthy development throughout childhood and adolescence. Unfortunately, when injury or dysfunction interrupts play, young athletes lose out on opportunities for important motor development, critical social skill building, fun and enjoyment. My mission is to lessen the impact of these disruptions so young athletes can return to their sport quickly and safely. In doing so, I aim to instill the value of movement so that sport remains a positive experience that ultimately motivates a child to pursue a lifetime of quality physical activity.

Every child should have the tools to be the best mover they can be, for whatever level of physical activity they choose, from the playground to the elite sports field. As a clinician, I aim to show youth how to use the tools they have to improve movement and teach them new skills to reach their goals. To meet each patient where they are at and to push them past their expectations is incredibly fun and rewarding.

I am proud to translate the latest research into clinical practice with my colleagues on our orthopaedic and sports physical therapy team, known nationwide as the leader in pediatric sports medicine rehabilitation science. We have first-class resources and equipment within the Division of Occupational Therapy and Physical Therapy. Our lab installed one of the state's only 3D markerless motion capture systems. We are excited to use this technology to assess and optimize athlete biomechanics.

Our current research aims to change the model of care for young athletes following anterior cruciate ligament reconstruction (ACLR) of the knee. Many youths struggle to return to their pre-injury level of the sport following this surgery. We are working on innovative rehabilitation strategies and interventions that optimize physical activity participation and sports performance following serious knee injury. Additionally, we are attempting to find creative ways to empower all youth, athlete or not, to be good movers throughout life, despite injury or diagnosis.

We are honored to have recently been awarded a Place Outcomes Research Award to reconceptualize care for athletes following ACLR. This grant will allow us to implement a group therapy model that provides a team atmosphere for athletes rehabilitating after knee surgery. The strengthening program will be challenging and competitive, but also extremely fun for these athletes.

On top of my clinical and research efforts at Children’s, I play professional arena soccer and captain the USA 6v6 "mini-football" team. I also love rock climbing, playing with my dog and traveling the world.

BS: Exercise Science, Marquette University, Milwaukee, WI, 2009.

DPT: Physical Therapy, Marquette University, Milwaukee, WI, 2011.

Residency: Orthopaedic Physical Therapy, Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center, Cincinnati, OH, 2012.

PhD: School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences, The Ohio State University, Columbus, OH, 2021.

Services and Specialties

Sports Medicine - Physical Therapists, Occupational Therapy and Physical Therapy


Pediatric sports medicine; physical literacy

Research Areas

Occupational Therapy and Physical Therapy Research

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The Association of Physical Competence With Psychological Response Among Young Athletes at Time of Return to Sport After ACL Reconstruction. Zwolski, CM; Paterno, MV; Magnussen, RA; Thomas, SM; Goodway, JD; Hand, BN; Quatman-Yates, CC; Schmitt, LC. American Journal of Sports Medicine. 2023; 51:2908-2917.

Leveraging the construct of physical literacy to promote physical activity for youth with obesity - A qualitative analysis of physical therapists' perceptions. Paponetti, MK; Zwolski, C; Porter, R; Paterno, MV. 2023; 5:100054.

Rehabilitation After Pediatric and Adolescent Knee Injuries. Molony, JT; Greenberg, EM; Weaver, AP; Racicot, M; Merkel, D; Zwolski, C. Clinics in Sports Medicine. 2022; 41:687-705.

Investigating the Social Network Structure of Physical Literacy Scholars to Advance a Paradigm for Physical Activity Promotion. Lower-Hoppe, LM; Kim, AC H; Brgoch, SM; Zwolski, CM; Schmitt, L; Paponetti, MK; Quatman-Yates, CC. Frontiers in Sports and Active Living. 2022; 4:809946.

The Incidence of Second Anterior Cruciate Ligament Injury in Young Athletes is Not Influenced by Time to Return to Sport. Zwolski, CM; Schmitt, LC; Thomas, S; Paterno, MV. Orthopaedic Journal of Sports Medicine. 2020; 8:2325967120s00188.

A review advocating caution with Major League Soccer expansion and investment in more rehabilitation professionals. Mansfield, CJ; Ferkovic-Mack, C; Eibensteiner, J; Zwolski, C. Physical Therapy in Sport. 2019; 37:190-196.

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