Student physical therapists in Texas often treat patients who only speak Spanish. Language barriers between patients and student physical therapists can pose challenges for both the patient and the student physical therapist. This pilot study documents outcomes for incorporating Spanish language skills in two Anatomy courses: Introduction to Anatomy and Spine Anatomy.
This study was classified as exempt by the Texas State University Institutional Review Board. An eight question pre-test was administered to student physical therapists at the beginning of the Introduction to Anatomy course, and a ten question pre-test was administered at the beginning of the Spine Anatomy course. Each pre-test included Spanish terms and phrases that correspond to the content of each course. The selected Spanish terms and phrases were chosen because they are commonly used by physical therapists during evaluation and treatment sessions. Upon completion of the pre-test, students were taught the Spanish terms and phrases during each of the two courses, throughout the semester. Post-tests were administered as part of course quizzes and tests, to document the outcome of incorporating Spanish language skills in these courses. It was hypothesized that there would be a significant difference between pre and post test scores for each course. Paired t-tests were used to test these hypotheses.
Introduction to Anatomy course. Forty-two 1st year physical therapist students participated in this study. There were 20 males and 22 females. The average age was 25.7 y/o (SD: 4.6) and there were 12 (29%) minority participants. There was a significant improvement in post-test scores (M=7.6, SD=.8), when compared to pre-test scores (M=2.9, SD=2.5) for this course (t41 = 12.6, p <.001).
Spine Anatomy course. Thirty-seven 1st year physical therapist students participated in this study. There were 14 males and 23 females. The average age was 26.4 y/o (SD: 5.2) and there were 12 (32%) minority participants. There was a significant improvement in post-test scores (M=9.5, SD=.9), when compared to pre-test scores (M=.8, SD=1.8) for this course (t36 = 29.2, p <.001).
Conclusions/Relevance to the conference theme: Shaping the Future of Physical Therapy Education
This study documented that student physical therapists can improve their Spanish language skills as part of a physical therapist curriculum. Student physical therapists on their clinical rotations in the State of Texas often treat patients who only speak Spanish. Physical therapist educational programs in regions that include large populations of patients who only speak Spanish may consider including basic Spanish language skills in their curricula to better prepare students for treating patients who only speak Spanish. Future studies are needed to investigate the effect of including Spanish language skills on student physical therapists in the clinical setting.
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