Friday, April 29, 2011

PT Across Settings and Countries

Today was another day full of new experiences and adventures. Our group broke off into several smaller groups and each experienced different aspects of patient care. We worked in multiple areas of the hospital: outpatient, the nursery, young adults, and older adults. We worked with the Guatemalan therapists to problem-solve seating problems with the wheelchairs, possible splinting ideas, and methods of handling. While several people in our group are proficient in Spanish, others are not and were forced to learn other ways to communicate for successful treatment and education!

A few stories from the day:

Three of our group worked in the nursery. During the first hour of treatment, communication consisted of gestures and very broken Spanish. Later in the morning, the group met a French nurse that spoke Spanish and a little English. Well, someone in our group spoke French. Thus, through the three languages, we were able to communicate with the therapist about important activities for the success of the child. The child left an impression on the students that worked with him this morning. He was two years old, but his appearance and motor skills were similar to an 8-month old. His impairments were completely due to malnutrition, leading to development delay. That this patient’s impairments were the result of something we take for granted, nutrition, was astonishing. His story will stay with us all.

Several members of our group spent the morning with the adult men's unit of the hospital. The adult men's unit has been celebrating their founding this week. This morning, local volunteers and four of our students took thirty men from the “hogar de hombres” (men’s unit) on an outing to the park. Due to the number of patients, the severity of their impairments, and the cobblestone streets, this outing proved very tricky! The streets and sidewalks present inaccessible conditions from our perspective. However, the people are resourceful and make it work. The patients were able to enjoy the pretty day in the park and eat a yummy snack.

Other members of our group had the opportunity to go to a new community medical clinic just outside Antigua. This clinic was built through the Houses to Homes organization, entirely by donation. The clinic is modern and kept immaculately clean and organized. It opened about 10 days ago and is still setting up everything and assessing the needs of the community. The staff consists of a general practitioner, pediatrician, and nurses. Two needs have already emerged since the clinic’s recent opening: developmental care and musculoskeletal evaluation and intervention. Fortunately, these are two areas in which physical therapy can play a large role! The group that attended the clinic today laid the foundation for continuing education opportunities during future trips. The group explained physical therapy’s role in the evaluation and treatment of specific conditions and will return next week to provide education on evidence-based interventions for patients with low back pain. They will also follow up with several pediatric patients treated today.

Overall, we had a full day that allowed us to see physical therapy played out in multiple settings. We found ways to communicate, to treat complex conditions with few materials, and had a lot of fun.

To end, here is a picture of the 7 students on the trip, enjoying a stroll through the main square.

Thanks for following our trip!

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