Patients & Students Beyond the Campfire: Redefining Participation & Professional Roles through Pro Bono Stroke Camp Experiences


Pro Bono Stoke Camp is a novel setting to learn about individuals who have survived a stroke. The World Health International Classification of Function (ICF) Model challenges us to look holistically at patients as they reintegrate into full participation in life roles.1 John Dewey suggests that education based on actual life experience is necessary to accomplish its ends for both individual learner and society.2 We hypothesize pro bono stroke camp experiences deepen classroom learning through community engagement in actual lived experiences. We also hypothesize that the community will learn more about Physical Therapy outside of the clinic walls. The purpose of this study was to examine the lived experiences of DPT students and survivors of stroke who participated in a pro bono stroke camp. Our research questions included: What is the lived experience of DPT students and survivors of stroke who participate in pro bono stroke camp? What connections to current coursework do students who engage in pro bono stroke camp identify with as a result of these experiences? How will DPT students apply camp lessons to the future practice of physical therapy? What do campers learn from student physical therapists?


Phenomenology explored the lived experiences of DPT students who engaged in a pro-bono stroke camp. Participants were 8 DPT students from a DPT program in the United States of America and 12 campers who were survivors of stroke. Students reflected on pro bono stroke camp experiences about the lessons learned through a reflective essay. Survivors of stroke shared their experiences of camp through interviews. Reflections included three parts: 1) What: What happened at camp? 2) Now What: How did the experience relate to current coursework or life now? 3) So What: How will students and campers use the experience in their future life or practice of physical therapy? Phenomenology is qualitative in nature and examines lived experiences to derive meaning from the perspectives of participants.3-7 Students reflected on pro bono stroke camp experiences through a 3-part reflective essay: 1) What: What happened at camp? 2) Now What: How did the experience relate to current coursework? 3) So What: How will students use the experience in their future practice of physical therapy? Campers reflected on the camp experience through semi-structured interviews with prompts similar to what, now what, and so what.


Reflections were analyzed according to Dahlberg, Drew, and Nystršm and coded for themes or constituents representing each theme. Researchers independently analyzed blinded reflections regarding lessons learned for common themes emerging from the writings of the participants. Reflections were analyzed and coded for common themes by the researchers.3-7 Reflective texts were analyzed using a whole-parts-whole technique to unveil the constituents of the experience.5,6 Word Clouds were created which visually compared lessons learned by the DPT students after participating in stroke camp. Qualitative methods revealed what DPT students learned from, with, and about those who survived stroke, in the construct of community reintegration and the support group of stroke camp. Survivors learned more about physical therapy and felt empowered by the ability to share their stories. Common themes emerged from the students: 1) ItÕs all about the campers! 2) We learned more at camp than from any classroom lecture or lab! 3) We are excited about working in a neuro setting! Students reported having less fear in working with survivors of strokes and viewed working in a neuro setting as a viable career possibility. Common themes from the camp stroke survivors: 1) We are not alone. We have a community! 2) We can teach others. 3) We have much to offer the world. Survivors of stroke navigate many barriers to achieve full participation in life roles and learn to find voice for advocacy. Community-based settings deepen learning about stroke recovery and full participation in life roles. Interacting with and being taught by survivors of stroke was important in learning about new possibilities for the profession of physical therapy and survivors of stroke through advocacy. Advocacy placed a name to an issue.

Conclusions/Relevance to the conference theme:

Stroke camp helped DPT students learn about challenges faced by stroke survivors in a real-life setting. Fears about future career possibilities in a neurological setting working with people who have survived stroke were dismantled. Neurorehabilitation was seen as an exciting career option. Survivors of stroke were empowered to redefine new ways of participation in societal roles. The survivors of stroke learned more about physical therapy & power of advocacy.

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  • Control #: 26854
  • Type: Poster Presentation - Research Type
  • Event/Year: ELC2020
  • Authors: Susan Klappa
  • Keywords:

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