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PT and OT Students Set Up Clinic in Costa Rica on Spring Break Medical Mission Trip

By Colby Gallagher

Published on March 8, 2019

Packing a bag and heading to Costa Rica for spring break doesn’t sound out of the ordinary, but for USciences Occupational Therapy and Physical Therapy students, the trip was anything but normal.

Students help patient in Costa RicaInstead of taking a week to lay in the sun, students like Sean Olaso DPT’20 and Nicole Tababa DrOT’21 boarded a plane on March 2 to help provide medical care to Costa Ricans who wouldn’t otherwise be able to receive it. As part of the medical mission trip, students helped set up and run a clinic for patients of all ages to receive therapy.

“We set it up in a nearby neighborhood and knocked on people’s doors asking if they needed occupational or physical therapy help,” said Tababa. “They came into the clinic and we assessed as much as we can with the knowledge we’ve gotten at USciences so far.”Student treats someone in Costa Rica

Students also participated in house visits to ensure patients had the necessary equipment and were able to perform the exercises at home that were part of the prescribed therapy.

“As beautiful and as amazing as the country is, there are still people who have limited access to healthcare,” said Olaso. “This was our opportunity to provide services.”

Interpreters were on hand to help with the language barrier, allowing the group to understand what the issues were and clearly communicate the necessary treatment in order for patients to fully recover.

Olaso and Tababa filmed the experience, interviewing each other and fellow classmates to see how they felt during the medical mission trip and share what they’ve learned to take back to Philadelphia.

“We are so proud of our students and how they’ve progressed from being clinicians who haven’t treated a lot of diagnoses to clinicians who have seen so many diagnoses here,” said Greg Thielman PT, MSPT, ATC, EdD, director of Patricia Leahy Research Lab and professor of physical therapy and neuroscience.

The trip was made possible thanks to a partnership with International Service Learning, a non-governmental organization that sends service teams to provide a variety of medical services in Mexico, Central and South America, the Caribbean, and Africa.

Categories: News, Samson College of Health Sciences, Department of Physical Therapy, Department of Occupational Therapy, Occupational Therapy, Physical Therapy, Students, Community Service