Karen Lunnen

Department of Physical Therapy
Associate Professor of Physical Therapy; Department Head

Karen Lunnen

Phone: 828-227-2191
Email: klunnen@email.wcu.edu
Office Address: HHSB 226A


  • Ed.D., North Carolina State University, 2001
  • M.S., Duke University, 1973
  • B.A., Wittenberg University, 1971

Selected Publications & Presentations:

  • Lunnen,  K. Y. (1999). Children with multiple disabilities. In S. K. Campbell (Ed.), Decision making in pediatric neurologic physical therapy (pp. 141-197).  New York, NY: Churchill Livingstone. 
  • Lunnen, K. Y. (2001).  Desirable abilities, attributes and qualifications for physical therapists in today’s workforce.  Electronic Theses and Dissertations.  Networked Digital Library of Theses and Dissertations.  http://www.ndltd.org/.
  • Fell, D., Lunnen, K. (2005, June).  A multidisciplinary volunteer team addressing rehabilitation and medical needs of Chinese orphans with disabilities: A model for future team organization.  PT 2005, Annual Conference and Exposition of the American Physical Therapy Association, Boston, MA. 
  • Lunnen, K. L., Pendry, A., Stargiotti, C., & Tabor, M. (2007, June).  Aquatic therapy for children with developmental disabilities in the public schools: A service-learning project in an entry-level physical therapy program.  World Confederation of Physical Therapy, VanCouver, British Columbia.
  • Lunnen, K. Y., & Geddes, R. F. (2007).  Physical therapy in the educational environment.  In J. S. Tecklin (Ed.), Pediatric physical therapy (4th ed.). New York, NY:  Churchill Livingstone.

For a more complete record of professional activities, contact Karen Lunnen at klunnen@email.wcu.edu or download her  curriculum vitae  (Word).

Personal Statement:

Physical therapy has provided diverse and challenging opportunities for me. Immediately after graduation I joined a team of professionals at a large state institution in New York for individuals with severe/profound disabilities. I left New York to join the physical therapy faculty at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill, where I directed a federal grant in maternal and child health; served as the faculty coordinator of the Maternal and Child Health Team; and taught at both the graduate and undergraduate level.

The beautiful North Carolina mountains have been home for more than 30 years. The focus of my clinical work has been with children and families in the region, working with the transdisciplinary team at the Developmental Evaluation Center (now the Child Development Service Agency), and with several public school districts. I also directed the rehabilitation department at Harris Regional Hospital from 1989-1994.

I have been involved with the physical therapy program at WCU since the first advisory committee in 1989 and joined the faculty in 1995 as the acting department head. I was the academic coordinator of clinical education for six years. I returned to the position of acting department head in 2001, and agreed to accept the position in a permanent capacity in 2003.

My primary teaching responsibilities are the pediatric content which, in a curriculum that takes a lifespan approach, involves me in almost every course. I also teach several sections of a course for special educators and speech and language pathologists on the physical care and management of students with severe/profound disabilities.

Three wonderful sons, Ben, Andy, and Jake, keep me flexible, humble, and young at heart.


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