Mission to Guatemala 2012
by Constance Taras
Today was both exhausting and exhilarating. We started off the day at the government hospital in the heart of Guatemala City. The OT and PT students split into our respective gyms to work with a few of the children scheduled for the day. I broke off with a few other PT students to work with 3 babies in the stimulation room where we observed the mothers learning at home stretches for their children as well as visual stimulation activities. We then were able to take the children into a dark room and work with lights to work on visual tracking and postural control. The child I worked with, Cido, started off with a lag as he was following the blinking glow stick and by the end of the 5 minute exercise was successful able to track with his eyes and head in all directions. The progress, even if just small, was extremely rewarding.
We then moved into the main gym and worked with some of the inpatient clients. These children presented with an array of problems from CP to malnutrition. We worked with the Guatemalan PTs to learn what was already being used to help the children as well as suggesting other activities. I loved the hands on opportunities to work directly with the children implementing techniques learned in school as well as learning new ones along the way. After breaking for lunch, a group of us traveled to the local Physical Therapy school to have a collaborative lab with their students. It was extremely challenging to engage with Spanish speaking students and to collectively come up with activities that could benefit both PTs and OTs. We emphasized the importance of communication and collaboration between the disciplines. It was amazing to see that although communication was difficult we were able to complete the task as a bi-cultural group. The visit to the school ended our work day but left me with an amazing feeling of accomplishment and excitement for the days to come.