Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Education Continues

One of our main objectives here in Guatemala was to teach the therapists ways to make the children more functional in ways that would carry over to long term.

In America, these tasks would be accomplished over a period of months to years with the help of the child's parents. Obviously, within one-week’s time, we are not able to make much of a difference in these children’s lives. In order to attempt to make a lasting change, we wanted to offer the therapists in Guatemala continuing education that could serve to benefit their patients.

In America, physical therapists are required to attend a certain amount of continuing education each year in order to maintain their license. However, in Guatemala, no such regulations exist and many therapists are relying on therapy interventions that are no longer up to date with current literature.

Therefore, a main goal was to educate the therapists so that they would have the tools necessary to carry over therapy activities into everyday function after the education that we offered them. Three of our students and one of our professors planned different continuing education seminars during our time here in Antigua, Guatemala.

Today, Courtney began our continuing education with an aquatics lab. We were amazed at how receptive the Guatemalan therapists were in trying new forms of therapy.

Below are pictures from Courtney’s aquatic lab with patients from Las Obras. Courtney was able to give one-on-one instructions to each therapist and child.

After the children left the pool, Courtney held an instructional tutorial just for the therapists. Here they were able to ask questions and try the different movements on our volunteers.

Following the pool time, Courtney gave a presentation on why these techniques work and how they should be used. Comments from the Guatemalan therapists confirmed that we were giving them useful information.

One Guatemalan therapist said, “I’ve never seen this before, and I’ve also never seen this child so relaxed.”

With the spasticity and contractures that often complicate functional activities for a child with cerebral palsy, water is a great means to introduce new activities and new sensations while working on functional impairments. When incorporated into therapy, current research demonstrates that the information Courtney presented can carry over into improvements in these children’s functional activities. Most of all, these activities are new and FUN for the children that live at Las Obras.

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