Incorporating Amputee Education in the Physical Therapy Curriculum
More than 2 million people live with limb loss in the United States and amputees are one of the under served populations in Central California. There is a need to incorporate amputee education in our PT curriculum to empower the next generation of physical therapists to work with this population. The purpose of this study is to explore the efficacy of incorporating a pro-bono amputee clinic model to enhance PT curriculum.
A pro-bono amputee clinic began in 2015 at California State University, Fresno (Fresno State) in the Gait Analysis Movement Evaluation (GAME) Lab under the supervision of core DPT faculty members with the vision of expanding the amputee curriculum. Two DPT faculty members were selected based on their clinical background and expertise in rehabilitation. The vision for expanding amputee rehabilitation in the PT curriculum had three phases of growth: 1) DPT students from all cohorts gain exposure to amputee rehabilitation and treatment methods using lab equipment 2) Incorporate amputee education across the curriculum and provide a weekend pro-bono clinic for hands-on interaction, and 3) Initiate a research track on amputee rehabilitation to support faculty and student research.
The clinic has grown from being a weekend clinic and has gained support from Amputee Coalition to being an integral part of the Central Valley Amputee Community. Numerous healthcare professionals devote their time to work with the clients and Fresno State students to support the pro-bono clinic success. Students have been welcomed by local healthcare professionals to observe daily functions in their respective practices as an additional learning opportunity based on relationships formed through the clinic. Five DPT graduate courses (PHTH 533, 534, 536, 595, 564) provide curriculum objectives regarding amputation. The pro-bono clinic has provided a collaborative network across many disciplines and amputee resources in the Central Valley. The DPT student receives opportunity to observe, assist, and apply skills with supervision for attendees. Support from local alumni, healthcare facilities, and professionals has gained additional resources to bring clinical application into the classroom experience. The research agenda has supported DPT student Doctoral Projects (n=7) and 4 internal/external grant(s) sources have been awarded since 2017 to support the research agenda. A collaborative effort evolved into promotion of a nationally recognized guest speaker for a free continuing education event and over 40 professionals, students, community members, and faculty attended. Networking for development of the clinic has strengthened opportunities to provide expertise in the classroom and outreach for participants in research projects.
Conclusions/Relevance to the conference theme:
Amputee clinic is an excellent opportunity for Fresno State students to apply their classroom experiences to the benefit of amputees and students alike, and allows students opportunities to interact with and develop professional rapport with other members of the healthcare team, as well as families and clients. The application that is gained through the various experiences that have been developed strengthens the preparedness of the entry-level graduate into the workforce. The interactions the student is exposed to provides opportunity to strengthen the "intangibles" as well: communication, patient/family rapport, contextual factors that challenge home and work environments, adaptation for community participation, professionalism, restriction on available resources, insurance limitations, and advocacy. In addition, research opportunities lead to opportunities to gain exposure to the larger professional community through presentation opportunities for the students.