March 2009: Sargent Conference on Neuro Rehabilitation in Guatemala City

On March 5-6, 2009, five Boston University faculty, alumni, and students had the opportunity to share their expertise with Guatemalan colleagues. A 2-day course on Neuro Rehabilitation titled “Where have we been? Where are we now?” was presented at the Mariano Galvez University in Guatemala City. College of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences faculty member Dr. Terry Ellis, and BU Alumni Dr. Amy Pastenak, (2001, 2009) presented evidence on how the brain recovers from a neurological injury and how this information shapes our examination and treatment of patients with neurological problems. The course’s goal was to have participants take this information and incorporate it into their everyday clinical practice. Another BU Physical Therapy Alumni, Oscar Gallardo (2003), a native of Guatemala, translated for the course

This was the first time students, therapists and faculty from the four Guatemalan physical therapy schools and area facilities came together for a course. Some 185 physical therapy students, faculty, and clinicians attended. The course was well received and future collaborations are being considered.  A pre and post course evaluation was conducted and will be given again in five month to determine whether this course changed practice.  

This course was the result of a fact finding trip in March 2008 made by Dr. Jean Peteet, College of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences faculty, and Oscar Gallardo to determine if and how physical therapists and students trained in the United States might collaborate with clinicians and schools in Guatemala City. The need for a course that would focus on current neuro-rehabilitation principles to enhance the practice of Guatemalan-trained physical therapists was identified as a high priority.   Two College of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences students used coursework in the final phase of their educational programs to help develop this course. Alma Ramirez-Phelipa, a native of Mexico and a fluent Spanish speaker, helped to develop the course content based on the Neuro course she had taken in the BU PT curricula. Amy Pasternak, a pediatric physical therapist with eight years of experience, developed case studies and videos as part of her coursework for her Transitional DPT degree. Professor Peteet worked with colleagues in Guatemala to facilitate course planning. Several other College alumni and students helped with course content translation. This collaborative effort built on the strengths of students, faculty, and alumni.