When the opportunity arose to travel 2,200 miles to Nicaragua to share their talents, eight faculty and graduate students, including Dr. Mary Jane Rapport and Dr. Lisa Dannemiller from the University of Colorado Physical Therapy program, were ready and eager to join forces with local Nicaraguan organizations to visit facilities serving underprivileged children with disabilities.
A partnership for continuing education with the University of Managua was developed through the work of Dr. Jennifer Stevens-Lapsley. Its reach into local communities across the country of Nicaragua speaks to the effectiveness of what has now emerged into an annual sojourn.
According to Drs. Rapport and Dannemiller, when a child with a disability spends her entire day in a crib, she is unable to feel like a part of her own family. Challenges such as this are what inspired the theme for this January’s trip. The topic “Clinical Decision Making and Practical Interventions in Pediatric Physical Therapy” was offered to clinicians, faculty, and student physical therapists through the University of Managua.
Pediatric physical therapists were introduced to a step-by-step intervention process through hands on developmental screenings of children with their parents. Expert Diane Brians was also onsite to provide support for learning about the PVC technology methods she has developed for young children with disabilities.
The ongoing challenge is in providing services to families that make a real difference when the healthcare system, the educational system, and the culture do not support state-of-the-art care and are all operating under trying economic conditions. Dr. Dannemiller’s greatest hope is that this course helped to "raise awareness that there may be other options."