In the first year for the College of Allied Health Sciences’ new international service trip, a group of graduate physical therapy students and faculty will travel to Cancun, Mexico, this month to provide service and education to residents.
The group includes eight students and four faculty members, as well as a community physical therapist and Rehabilitation Sciences program manager Beth Bextermueller.
Bextermueller says there has been increased interest in international service from both prospective and current students, and this trip provides a way for students at each year of the Doctorate of Physical Therapy program to gain experience working with different populations.
Through Bextermueller’s outreach efforts and the Palace Foundation, the students will spend Dec. 12-19 in Cancun, providing treatment and education at three unique locations.
First, they will visit Proninos Excepcionales, or the Center for Exceptional Children, a pediatric residential facility. There, students and faculty will work with children and their caregivers on correct positioning and movement of clients with severe disabilities.
"I think many of the students will have their eyes opened when they seem some of the disabilities the clients may be living with because they don’t have access to the care that we have,” says Elizabeth Mulligan, PT, PhD, doctorate of physical therapy program director and professor.
"We’re not going to be able to change their disability—if a child has severe scoliosis and didn’t have access to an orthopedic surgeon, we can’t change that. But if we can work with their caregivers to place the child in a better position, that may improve their ability to eat, to learn, to interact with others.”
Next, the students and faculty will work with employees of the Palace Resorts, giving two presentations on diabetes and biomechanics, and providing tips for healthy movement during their workday.
The group will finish the trip at the Ciudad de la Alegria (City of Happiness) Home for the Elderly, a residential facility for local senior citizens. Mulligan says the same biomechanical information presented will be used to teach the center’s staff about lifting and assisting patients.
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